Global Dialogue | The Power of Diplomacy | Marshall | Jun 1

June 1, 2021 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
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The Tennessee World Affairs Council

in association with

Belmont University Center for International Business and the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce present

Global Dialogue

The Power of Diplomacy


Ambassador Capricia Penavic Marshall

Ambassador-in-Residence, Atlantic Council and Former Chief of Protocol of the United States at the White House and Author of “Protocol: The Power of Diplomacy”

With Host

Kelly O’Connor, CFRE

Member of the Board, Tennessee World Affairs Council

Jun 1, 2021 @ 7 pm CT

Chief of Protocol of the United States

The body of law, customs and practices governing diplomatic conduct is called protocol. It is derived from the Greek words proto (first) and collon (glued), meaning that the first page of a manuscript, often serving as a summary of a treaty or diplomatic dispatch, must be glued to the outside of the document or volume.

The State Department first appointed a full-time protocol officer in 1916 and established the Office of the Chief of Protocol on February 4, 1928. In 1946, the President commissioned the State Department’s Chief of Protocol to also carry the title “Chief of Protocol of the White House.” Since 1961, the Chief of Protocol has been commissioned an Ambassador, requiring the President’s nominee to be confirmed by the Senate.

Protocol: The Power of Diplomacy and How to Make it Work for you

President Obama’s former United States chief of protocol looks at why diplomacy and etiquette matter—from the international stage to everyday life.

History often appears to consist of big gestures and dramatic shifts. But for every peace treaty signed, someone set the stage, using hidden influence to effect the outcome. In her roles as chief of protocol for President Barack Obama and social secretary to President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton, Capricia Penavic Marshall not only bore witness to history, she facilitated it. From arranging a room to have an intended impact on the participants to knowing which cultural gestures earned trust, her behind-the scenes preparations laid the groundwork for successful diplomacy between heads of state around the world and tilted the playing field in her team’s favor.

If there’s one thing that working at the highest levels of government for over two decades has taught Marshall, it’s that there is power in detail and nuance—the micro-moves that affect the macro-shifts. When seemingly minor aspects of an engagement go missing or awry—a botched greeting or even a poorly chosen menu—it alters the emotions and tenor of an exchange, setting up obstacles rather than paving a way forward. In some cases, an oversight may put the entire endeavor in jeopardy.

Sharing unvarnished anecdotes from her time in office—harrowing near misses, exhilarating triumphs, heartwarming personal stories—Marshall  brings us a master class in soft power, unveiling the complexity of human interactions and making the case that etiquette, cultural IQ, and a flexible mind-set matter now more than ever. When the notion of basic civility seems to be endangered, Protocol reminds us how critical these principles are while providing an accessible guide for anyone who wants to be empowered by the tools of diplomacy in work and everyday life.


Ambassador Capricia Penavic Marshall

Capricia Penavic Marshall serves as Ambassador-in-Residence at the Atlantic Council  in Washington, DC. She is President of Global Engagement Strategies, which advises international public and private clients on issues relating to the nexus of business and cultural diplomacy. She travels across the country speaking to organizations and corporations about her experiences, lessons she has learned throughout her career in public service, and how best to integrate cultural diplomacy into business.

From 2009 to 2013, she was Chief of Protocol of the United States, bearing the rank of Ambassador and setting the stage for diplomacy at the highest levels. In this capacity, she worked to leverage U.S. relationships with foreign governments developing strategies to transform global engagement. Ms. Marshall oversaw six State and Official Visits, countless Working Visits, the G20, Nuclear Security, APEC, G8, NATO and Sunnylands Summits, and the protocol arrangements during travel with the President and Secretaries of State to forty-two countries. Moving beyond traditional methods of engagement, Ms. Marshall fostered international goodwill through a new division in the protocol office, Diplomatic Partnerships. With creative programming under this division she created sustained, mutually beneficial partnerships between the foreign Diplomatic Corps and business, government and community leaders across America.

From 1997 to 2001, Ms. Marshall served as Deputy Assistant to the President and White House Social Secretary. From 1993 to 1997, she was Special Assistant to the First Lady of the United States, Hillary Rodham Clinton. In addition to her Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Purdue University, Ms. Marshall holds a Juris Doctor from Case Western Reserve University School of Law, where she received the prestigious Society of Benchers award in 2012.

Ms. Marshall is a first-generation American of Croatian and Mexican descent. In 2013, she was awarded the Distinguished Service Award from the Secretary of State and the Order of the Cross of Isabel La Católica from the Ambassador of Spain. She is a member of the Council of American Ambassadors. She has been named to ELLE magazine’s annual “Washington Power List,” as one of DC’s most influential women. Ms Marshall is currently serves on the boards of the Case Western University International Advisory Board, The Strategic Planning Board, The Blair House Restoration Fund and The Council of American Ambassadors.

Host Kelly O’Connor, CFRE

With more than 20 years of nonprofit expertise, K. Kelly O’Connor has served in nearly every facet of the of the nonprofit world.  Kelly is a writer, consultant, conflict manager, and has been the Development Director of Progress, Inc., since 2013.  O’Connor has served the Nashville community in a variety of roles.  Her experience ranges from serving as the Board Chair of a multi-million-dollar charitable trust where she managed grant cycles and awarded grants, to successfully directing a nonprofit organization where she designed programs and managed special events.  She has lectured and written on philanthropy and provides consulting and training services to others in the field and is a passionate advocate for strategic philanthropy.

O’Connor currently serves on several boards including the Tennessee World Affairs Council.  She is an active member of the Rotary Club of Nashville, the Junior League of Nashville and an alumna of the Young Leaders Council.  Kelly has been appointed by Governors Haslam and Lee to serve on Tennessee State Regulatory Boards.

Kelly earned her bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences from Washington State University and is currently completing her Master’s Degree at the Institute for Conflict Management at Lipscomb University. Her area of focus is cultural conflict and cultural competency.  O’Connor is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) and a Tennessee Rule 31 certified civil mediator.  She is the author of the novel, Awaiting the Green Flash.  Kelly enjoys travelling, reading, language studies, and Argentinean rock music.


We invite businesses, organizations and individuals to sponsor this event. It is through your support that we are able to bring quality global affairs programs to the community.

For information about sponsoring other programs and series of events contact Patrick Ryan, TNWAC President @ 931-261-2353,





THE MISSION of the nonprofit, nonpartisan Tennessee World Affairs Council is to promote international awareness, understanding and connections to enhance the region’s global stature and to prepare Tennesseans to thrive in our increasingly complex and connected world.

THE VISION of  the Tennessee World Affairs Council is a well-informed community that thinks critically about the world and the impact of global events.


June 1, 2021
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm