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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. Now, in the midst of a global pandemic, successful diplomacy is more critical than ever. In times of crisis, what is the importance of soft power and nuance in international cooperation? How does protocol impact the ability for decision-makers to move into consensus?

Join us for a live discussion with Capricia Marshall, Ambassador-in-Residence at the Atlantic Council and Senior Advisor to the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center Advisory Council, for a conversation on her new book, Protocol: The Power of Diplomacy and How to Make it Work for You.  We will be joined by former National Security Advisor Susan Rice, one of the many leading figures appearing in Protocol, who will contextualize the importance of this book amid today’s challenges.


Welcoming remarks

Adrienne Arsht
Executive Vice Chair
Atlantic Council

Keynote remarks

Susan Rice
Former U.S. National Security Advisor; Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations


Fred Kempe
President and CEO
Atlantic Council

Capricia Marshall
Ambassador-in-Residence; Senior Advisor
Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center Advisory Council

Event Summary

On July 1, 2020, the Atlantic Council along with its Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center and  Adrienne Arsht – Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center hosted a virtual  discussion “Protocol and Diplomacy: A master class on soft power with Capricia Marshall, former Chief of Protocol of the United States”.  The event featured H.E. Ambassador Capricia Marshall, former Chief of Protocol of the United States and Ambassador-in-Residence at the Atlantic Council; H.E. Susan Rice, former US National Security Advisor and US Ambassador to the United Nations; Adrienne Arsht, Executive Vice Chair of the Atlantic Council; and Fred Kempe, CEO and President of the Atlantic Council. The conversation focused on Ambassador Marshall’s two decades in the White House, where she served on the front lines of diplomatic engagement,  and on her new book Protocol: The Power of Diplomacy and How to Make It Work for You.

Kempe kicked-off the conversation by welcoming Ambassador Marshall and congratulating her for the launch of Protocol, a collection of funny and inspiring anecdotes from her time as Chief of Protocol for President Barack Obama and Social Secretary to President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton. Referring to Ambassador Marshall’s experience, Kempe mentioned that “working at the highest level of government for over two decades has taught Capricia that there is power in detail, nuance, and etiquette”.

President Barack Obama stands with Capricia Marshall, Chief of Protocol for the United States, on the South Lawn of the White House on Sept. 1, 2010.Charles Dharapak / AP file

Kempe introduced Ms. Arsht, who brought Ambassador Marshall to the Atlantic Council when she founded the Latin America Center in 2013.  In addition to her prolific diplomatic career, Ms. Arsht referred to the important role Ambassador Marshall plays within the Latin America Center “being such a pivotal force in carrying out the work of the center”. Ms. Arsht believes that by reading Protocol, people will be able to improve relationships and communicate better in every aspect of their lives.Ms. Arsht concluded her remarks by adding that Protocol is full of lessons on diplomacy, empathy, humility, and preparation.

After her warm remarks, Ms. Arsht introduced keynote speaker, H.E. Ambassador Susan Rice, who congratulated Ambassador Marshall for navigating a book launch amid a pandemic.  Ambassador Rice reflected on the importance of protocol and respect, as “wearing a mask in public is the most basic and obvious example of why etiquette is important today, of how small individual actions can have a huge impact on society”. Ambassador Rice, who worked with Ambassador Marshall during the Obama administration, recounted some their experiences traveling the world together and encouraged the audience to buy the book, which combines formal lessons on diplomacy and protocol with personable anecdotes at the highest level of global politics.

Finally, Kempe moderated a conversation with Ambassador Marshall, which began on a question about her immigrant origins as a child to a Mexican mother and Croatian father. Ambassador Marshall remembers her home as a “mini United Nations” where many languages were spoken, several nationalities coexisted, and cultural differences were always welcome and celebrated. According to Marshall, protocol plays an important role in embracing differences; it is the mechanism in which we can show respect for one´s counterpart, bridging gaps and fostering trust and communication among diversity.

 All copies of Protocol: The Power of Diplomacy and How to Make It Work for You purchased on Politics and Prose will be signed by Ambassador Marshall.