Affinity Groups

The Public Diplomacy Council of America brings together members who share an interest in specific issues surrounding public diplomacy.  We’re open to new topics that may attract sufficient interest.

Whole of Government Strategic Communication
This is a group of Public Diplomacy Council of America members who advocate better coordination among those entities of the United States Government that communicate with the public in other nations.  Too often, agencies and offices duplicate or even contradict their messaging and work at cross purposes.  The group aims to:

  • Create resources and readings about whole-of-government approaches, emphasizing the characteristics of successful efforts.
  • Develop potential models for whole-of-government strategic communications structures
  • Advocate the establishment of such a structure that could transcend any particular administration.

The group sponsors discussions about the United States and other national models.  Some of these discussions will center around a panel of experts; others are confined to members of the affinity group.  Key readings and other unclassified public documents are available below on this page.

Want to join?
PDCA members can join by contacting Peter Kovach and Helle Dale, the group coordinators. 

Peter Kovach, a retired Senior Foreign Service PD officer, three times led whole of government strategic communications efforts to coordinate and deconflict USG and partner communication efforts.

Kovach entered the Foreign Service in 1980 after completing a MALD (ABD) at the Fletcher School with thesis work on the Palestinian citizens of Israel, an MA in Asian Studies at UC Berkeley largely continuing his undergraduate interests in phenomenology and anthropology of religion at Wesleyan University with a formative year at Banaras Hindu University in India. He has taught graduate courses in public diplomacy at UCLA and George Mason University and undergraduate courses in study of religion and Asian religions at UMass Boston, Goddard College and Wesleyan. 

Helle C. Dale is the Heritage Foundation’s Senior Fellow in Public Diplomacy studies. Her current work focuses on the U.S. government’s institutions and programs for strategic outreach to the public of foreign countries, as well as more traditional diplomacy, critical elements in American global leadership and in the war of ideas against violent extremism. She joined The Heritage Foundation in 2002 as Deputy Director of Heritage’s Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies. After 2005, she also was Director of Heritage’s Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies.

Dale’s career started in journalism, where she worked for both domestic and foreign publications as well as print and electronic media. In 1991, she was hired by The Washington Times as Deputy Editorial Page Editor. In this position, she was responsible for the newspaper’s editorial positions in foreign affairs and national security policy. Since 1995, she has written a widely-read weekly foreign affairs column that appears on the op-ed page of The Washington Times as well as in newspapers throughout the United States. In 1997, she was named the newspaper’s Editorial Page Editor, where she oversaw the paper’s policy on presidential, congressional and local politics as well as foreign affairs. She has traveled widely in Central and Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, the Middle East and Asia.

Presidential Decision Directive/NSC-68.  In 1999, this Clinton Administration directive summoned U.S. Government agencies to improve its use of public information to foreign audiences.  The Co-chair of this affinity group, Peter Kovach, co-drafted this model for a whole of government strategic communications body with Dr. Jamie Metzl.  President Clinton signed it into existence on April 30, 1999.  Kovach and William Parker, a Senior Foreign Service colleague, ran successive iterations of this IPI (International Public Information) body from 1999 to approximately 2006.

Nontraditional Public Diplomacy in the Iraq-Afghan Wars Or The Ups and Downs of Strategic Communicators, pp. 171-190, co-chair Helle Dale’s Chapter 8 in ‘Nontraditional Public Diplomacy, published by the Public Diplomacy Council in 2016.  The chapter reviews strategic communications in the post 9/11 Iraq and Afghan conflicts.  To access this book electronically, go to and look for the download button.

Strategic Perspectives 11, Institute for National Strategic Studies. A thorough National Defense University study of the Active Measures group in the 1980’s. [Peter Kovach: Recommend the ‘introduction’, Text 8 on workings of interagency groups and the conclusion in particular. Well worth the time to selectively peruse.]

DIME Not DiME; Time to Align the Instruments of U.S. Informational Power.  By Donald Bishop, the chief panelist for the July 10 mid-month off-the-record session on whole of government strategic communications, co-sponsored with the University of Southern California.

Episode 28 of the podcast Eagles, Globes, and Anchors, from Marine Corps University, featuring Dr. Rebecca Johnson, Vice President for Academic Affairs. Dr. Johnson’s guest is Mr. Donald Bishop, the Bren Chair in Strategic Communications at Marine Corps University, a position funded by the Marine Corps University Foundation. Dr. Johnson’s guest discusses strategic communication and the significance of informational power.

Citizen Diplomacy Research Group

The Citizen Diplomacy Research Group (CDRG) brings together students, scholars, citizens, and professionals worldwide who are studying and/or practicing citizen diplomacy, communicating, and collaborating across borders for political, economic, religious, cultural, educational, and other public purposes.  The CDRG aims to help spread, better understand, and foster collaboration in the citizen diplomacy movement, in the context of public diplomacy.

The Group meets every two months online via Zoom to present and discuss research on, and practice of citizen diplomacy worldwide, and to allow international participants to share relevant events, publications, and news.  

With every meeting, the Group issues a new electronic edition of its CD Bulletin that delivers citizen diplomacy-related news, publications and resources.  The Group also maintains a growing bibliography of citizen diplomacy-related articles, books, reports, videos and podcasts, as well as a list of scholars and organizations across the globe that study or practice citizen diplomacy.  

For any questions, or to receive email notice of CDRG meetings, please contact the Chair, Paul Lachelier, at with your name, title, organization, and email address.  

CDRG Chair, Paul Lachelier, is a civic entrepreneur, sociologist, and founder and director of Learning Life, a Washington, DC-based nonprofit lab devoted to innovating education, democracy and diplomacy by spreading learning in everyday life beyond school walls.  Through Learning Life, Paul leads two programs – the Family Diplomacy Initiative and the DMV Democracy Learning Community.  Before founding Learning Life in 2012, Paul taught at Stetson, Harvard, Tufts and the University of Wisconsin.  He holds a B.A. in sociology from Georgetown University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  His writing, research and programmatic work focus on democracy, citizen diplomacy, and education.  His writings have appeared in academic journals as well as popular media including the Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, Orlando Sentinel, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Albuquerque Journal, and More at Paul’s Linkedin page ( and his website (