Robert Hickey's Blog on How to Make a Perfect Introduction

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    Christian Orthodox       
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Attorney General           
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Australian Officials    
Awards, Name on an

Baron, Baroness           
British Officials,
   Royalty, Nobility     
Brother, Catholic
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Bishop, Episcopal        
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Canadian Officials    
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Chief Justice, of a State
      Supreme Court             

Chief of Police          
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Chief Operating
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    or USMC     
Commissioner, Court     
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      Yacht Club         
Congressman, U.S.               
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Consul and or
   Consul General   
Corporate Executive         
Counselor (Diplomat)      
County Officials       
    U.S. Military
    U.S. Officials
    Private Citizens    
    Same Sex

Dalai Lama          
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Doctor of
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Doctor, Optometrist   
Doctor of Osteopathy            
Doctor, Other Disciplines     
Doctorate, honorary      

Elect, Designate
Pro Tempore      
Esquire, Esq.       

First Names, Use of
   Formal / Informal     
First, Second,
   Third , etc .        
First Lady, Spouse
   of the President of
   the United States 
First Lady, Member
    of Her   
    White House Staff      
First Lady, Spouse
   of a U.S. Governor
   or Lt. Gov.    
First Lady, Spouse
   of a U.S. Mayor    

First Lady
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First Lieuten
Former Officials    

Gay Couple      


Goodwill Ambassador      
Governor General         
Governor, Lieuten
Governor, Lt., Spouse   

Governor, Tribal Council          
Governor, U.S. State       
Governor, Former    
    Spouse of     
Governor's Staff,
    Member of
Governors, Board of 

High Commissioner    
Honorable, The
Honorary Ambassador       
Honorary degrees
Honorary doctorate
Honourable, The

Indian Chief         
Inspector General    
Interim Official   
   Writing &  
    Writing &

Judge, former     
Judge of US City

     County or State     
Judge, US Federal            
Junior, Senior,
    I, II, III, etc

Justice, Associate

     Supreme Court

Justice, Associate

     Supreme Court


Late, The
   (deceased persons)
Lesbian Couple    
Lieutenant Colonel,     
   USA, USAF, USMC      
Lieutenant General,
   USA, USAF, USMC      

Lieutenant Governor    

Major General,
Man, business
Man, social
Marquess / Marchioness
Married Women       
Marshal for a
   Judicial District, U.S. 
Mayor, U.S. City   
Mayor, Canadian City    
Mayor Pro Tempore
Mayor, Vice    
   Protestant Clergy       
   Christian Orthodox     
Most Reverend, The        
Mother Superior
Mr. (Social)      
Mr. (Business)      
Mrs., Ms. (Use, Social Forms)      
Mrs. vs. Ms.     
Mr. & Mrs. / Couples   

Name Badges or Tags     
Nobility, UK/British
Nobility, Other & Former     
Nun, Catholic
Nun, Orthodox

Officer, Police     

Pastor, Christian Clergy  
   Christian Orthodox  
   Ecumenical Patriarch
   of Constantinople  
People with Two Titles      
Petty Officer
Place Cards            
Plaque, Name on a    
Police Chief
Police Officer                     
Pope, Catholic
Pope, Coptic
Postmaster General         
Presbyter, Orthodox
President, corporate
President of
    College or
President of a
President of a
    US State Assembly 
President (current)
   of the U.S.A.          
President (former)
   of the U.S.A.     
President of the
    U.S.A., spouse of  
    of the U.S.   
Priest, Catholic          
    Christian Orthodox 
Priest, Episcopal        
Prime Minister
   & Academics         
Pro Tempore,
   Elect, Designate    


Ranger, Texas        
   U.S., Federal           
   U.S., State            
Reservist, Military      
Retired Military
   1. Formula For
       How to Address     
   2. Use of Rank by
       Retired Military    

   3. Q&A on
       How to Address
       Retired Military   
Reverend, The
Right Reverend, The         

Same Sex Couple      
Salvation Army    
School Board Member
   U.S. Department,
   Member of the Cabinet
   of Defense, U.S.       
Secretary, Assistant       
Secretary General
   of the U.N.            
Senator, U.S., Federal       
Senator, U.S., State         
Senator, Canadian       
Senior, Junior,
     I, II, III, etc.         
Senior Judge 
Sergeant at Arms
Seventh Day
     Adventist Minister       
Sister, Catholic       

Solicitor General      
Speaker of the U.S.
   House of
Spouse of the
    President of the U.S.       
Spouse of the
    Vice President
    of the U.S.           
Spouse of an
    Elected Official            
State Attorney     
Surgeon General          

Texas Ranger        
Titles & Forms of
    Address, Useless?        
Tombstones, Names on
Town Justice
Town Manager       
The Honorable     
Tribal Officials     
Two Titles,
    Person With

Under Secretary       
US Attorney
US Federal Officials
US State Officials     
US Municipal Officials

Venerable, The        
Veteran (not Retired)         
Very Reverend, The         
VFW Officer/Official    
Vice Mayor       
Vice President
    of the U.S.
Spouse of the
    Vice President
of the U.S.
Vice President-elect
    of the U.S.      
Viscount and/or

Warrant Officer       
White House Staff    
Woman, business        
Woman, social        

Yacht Club Officer      


Questions & Answers, Frequently Asked Questions, and Blog

Site updated by Robert Hickey on 23 March 2020

How to Introduce Myself as a Officer?
      I'm currently a Second Lieutenant in the USMC. I work at a desk and constantly am talking to new people on the phone. I have developed the habit of referring to myself as "Lieutenant Felton" in conversation over the phone, and in the signature block of informal emails (i.e.- "Lt Felton"). I have been mistaken as a 1stLt before. Since there is a actual naval rank of Lieutenant, is it proper or customary for me to simply call myself Lieutenant, or should I quit the habit and always refer to myself as Second Lieutenant?
       -- Tony Felton

Dear 2ndLt Felton,
    In a casual conversation it's O.K. to identify yourself as Lieutenant but in writing and anytime you want to be specific about your rank use Second Lieutenant.
    In all of the services (except enlisted Marines*) basic ranks are used in conversation, and full graded ranks are used in writing.
        A Major General is addressed orally as General (Name).
            He is addressed on an envelope as Major General (Name).
        A Petty Officer Third Class is addressed orally as Petty Officer (Name).
            He is addressed on an envelope as Petty Officer Third Class (Name).
    Both a First and Second Lieutenant are addressed orally or in a salutation as Lieutenant (Name).
    Introduce yourself with your full rank for clarity. But it's O.K. to say your name is Lieutenant (name) when giving someone info they need to address you in conversation.
        -- Robert Hickey

* I say except for enlisted Marines, because orally a USMC Gunnery Sergeant is not addressed with the basic rank -- "Sergeant (Name)" -- and is always "Gunnery Sergeant (Name)"  -- whereas an USA Staff Sergeant is orally addressed as with just the basic rank -- "Sergeant (Name)."

Introductions of Kings, Queens, and Presidents?
How are diplomatic introductions made between visiting presidents/kings/queens/ (basically, with equal ranking from respective countries)?  Who is introduced to whom? Is it based on the terra firma on which they stand?
          -- JFF

Dear JFF,
         The short answer is: Say the name of the visitor first, name of the host second. With people, a guest is granted precedence over the host. 
With flags, the host country's flag is always first: then the guest flags are in alphabetical order by common name in local language.
         But the longer answer is: in diplomatic circles, introductions are ceremonial, and in ceremonies (e.g., during a state visit, or during an ambassador's presentation of credentials to a Minister of Foreign Affairs / Secretary of State) the situation is different. Often the guest is announced (or presented) as he or she enters the room, and he or she already knows who he or she is meeting –– so a typical introduction never takes place.
         During a reception for a visit of that stature, there really wouldn't be a situation where there would be presidents, kings, and queens milling around in a cocktail reception waiting to be introduced to one another.
         If a visiting chief-of-state or head-of-government were attending a reception or dinner, they'd be a guest of honor and be in the receiving line with the host
chief-of-state or head-of-government. At a reception or dinner, no one would ask a chief-of-state or head-of-government to go through a reception line to meet the hosts. 
         I once spoke to Alice Hecht, then Chief of Protocol at the United Nations, and I asked her "how do you make the introductions at a U.N. summit when you have a room full of presidents and prime ministers?" She said they already recognize one another, and a standard by-the-book formal introductions just isn't necessary. Sometimes she would bring one president across the room to meet another, and she would say the name of the one she was escorting first, then the one who she was seeking out second. She added, then she just would get out of their way as they began talking.
         -- Robert Hickey

How to Introduce Four People at a Time?
       Our private school has applied for a grant and have invited four individuals from a foundation to visit the school.  The individuals include: the President, the Assistant Pres., and 2 other members.  They will be touring our school and will be introduced to key school persons along the way.  What I want to know is how these individuals should be introduced especially since there are four of them.

            -- Lynn M.

Dear Lynn M.:
      They should be introduced with the highest person's name said first if you want to actually use names. With four it would be ....
      (President of Foundation), (Assistant Pres. #2), (Foundation Person #3), (Foundation Person #4), may I present (School Person), chairman of the department of XXXX.
      (Directed to the School Person)  .... Our guests are from the XXX Foundation.

      Which would sound like: Mr. Smith, Ms. James, Mr. Wilson, Ms. Thomas, may I present Dr. Anderson, chairman of the Department of History.
       (To Dr. Anderson), Our guests are from the Evergreen Foundation. Mr. Smith is the President of the Foundation and is interested in seeing our facilities.
      This provides an opportunity for Dr. Anderson to speak with Mr. Smith and the delegation.
      With large groups some times names are left out if there are too many OR if you don't think there will actually be any conversation. Such as:
      (To the delegation from the Foundation):  This is our football team coached by Tim Clark
(To the football team and Tim Clark): Our guests are from the Evergreen Foundation.
       You allow for a general acknowledgment from both sides to the other ... and then you move on.

             -- Robert Hickey

How to Introduce Yourself If You Have a Title?
One day, I'll inherit one of my families Baronies (British). For discussion's sake, let's say I'll be Lord Windsor. I was wondering in regards to self-introduction. I'm well-versed in how to introduce other peers, but I've heard several variations when those other peers introduce themselves. Sometimes it's the full formal Lord X or Duke of Z, etc.  How should I introduce myself?
        -- Josh Hillyer

Dear J.H.
There is not single rule how anyone introduces oneself: It always depends on where you are and to whom who are you are introducing yourself.
        An introduction establishes the context for the subsequent conversation.
        1) Are you among equals?  And all you need to provide is a "call-by name"?
        2) Are you in a hierarchical situation?  Is it courteous to let others know you have a personal rank?  How much detail do they need?
        3) Or are you among family?  Did they change your diapers?
        When one has a personal rank and among peers one does not use it.
                E.g., when a physician is among close friends and family he would introduce himself by saying hello I am Josh Hillyer
        That follows the "rule" that one does not give oneself an honorific or rank.
        BUT where there is a hierarchy in the room, or it is pertinent that he's an MD … he could say hello my name is Dr.
Josh Hillyer.  When he walks into an exam room and you are in a backless paper gown he would say hello I am Dr. Hillyer.
        You will be making the same judgement calls.
        Sometimes you may well be telling others the full formal form.
        Other times you will give just the short form.
        There will probably still be other times you will still be using simply Joe.
        You will always be deciding what are my goals for this conversation based on who we are and where we are.
        -- Robert Hickey

How to Introduce Your Father, The Duke?
Presumably, a Duke's title is not usually (or ever) the family surname.  For the sake of illustration, let's say there is a British Duke of Highhampton, with the first name of Peter and family surname Cameron.  His third son, who works as a minor government official in the Bahamas, introduces him to an American friend who also lives in the Bahamas (and who does not know the family's history) at a casual lunch.  In an effort not to drop a conversational bombshell (as has happened with past introductions to Americans), the son does not say "This is my father, the Duke of Highhampton."  What would he say instead?  Would a member of the British aristocracy ever simply say "This is my father, Peter Cameron"?  (If so, presumably the friend would call the father "Mr. Cameron" during the subsequent conversation, intending to show generational respect.  However, would a duke find this an offensive come-down from his real title?)  Or would it be most plausible that the son would at least say, "This is my father, Peter Cameron, Duke of Highhampton," even when the introduction is in a relaxed setting?
     -- Florence Brook

Dear Ms. Brook:
     I love this question because it superficially about addressing nobility, but it really about making introductions. For formal situations the forms of address are fixed by protocol. Casual situations may call for casual forms of address ... which are the realm of etiquette. Etiquette allows for the individual to interpret what he or she believes is right for the situation.
    Here's what I think:
    1) The job of the introducer is to provide the names for the people being introduced to use when each responds to the introduction.  The son will be in the best position to know what his father will like to be called by his son's friends and what his friends will like to be called by his father. It is the son's function as the introducer is to establish the right common ground.
    2) Acknowledging the other person's status ... whether a student, military officer, your supervisor, or both father and the holder of a noble title .... is a essential to establishing good communication.
    Perhaps the best plan is for the son to brief everyone in advance of what he will do and what he thinks each should call the other, so everyone can enjoy the start of a new friendship.  Protocol officers typically brief their bosses on what the "call by" names are for people they are about to meet. It's really easy ... and makes things go smoothly.
     RE: In an effort not to drop a conversational bombshell (as has happened with past introductions to Americans), the son does not say "This is my father, the Duke of Highhampton." 
Secrets that explode during the event are really planning problems! The purpose of protocol is to establish a stress-free environment so the planned work of the event or meeting can be accomplished.
                 -- Robert Hickey

Dear Mr. Hickey,
      Thank you for your insight.  It's very kind of you to respond, and charming to me for different reasons, not the least of which is the comment about a secret that explodes.  I was once the inadvertent subject at such a moment, and embarrassed a speaker in front of a big roomful of his peers and bosses due to the klutzy job he did introducing me (no loss of face for me, a whole lot of loss of face for him).  I don't believe any of his staff ever had the slightest inkling that they should have been abashed for not briefing him properly.  They all just stood around and tsk-tsked him for his faux pas. 
       I once met an earl at a friend's house in Oregon. We were hanging around on a summer day in shorts and were introduced by first name only (i.e., not a protocol-officer moment).  My friend is rabidly egalitarian, yet even she was quite ready to whisper in my ear that he was an earl.  I therefore guess it is unrealistic to think a member of the British aristocracy would ever fail to mention that fact, either prior to an introduction or during, no matter how casual the setting.  (A contessa I know is always introduced by only her first and last name, but she points out that her title doesn't mean anything, since Italy is a republic.  And though she feels this way, I knew by the end of our first meeting that she is a contessa.  The secret just doesn't keep.) 
      The only part of what you said that I wonder about is the assertion that once everyone's status is on the table, they can go forth and enjoy the start of a new friendship.  Perhaps, if the room is full of other people of similar stature (wealth, fame, achievement or position). But if the room contains only one duke and some guys, it seems that the title must inevitably impede genuineness.
      Anyway, many thanks again. I ordered your book last night and am looking forward to learning all the things I did wrong when working at the Senator's office back in the day. 
     -- Florence Brook

How to Acknowledge Officials in the Audience
When Giving a Speech? Generally or Individually?

Robert, how would you address a group of senators, governors, police officers, etc.?  Would it be generally like the plural of "sir" and "ma'am" -- "ladies and gentlemen," or "assembled guests" for instance? Or do I mention just the top ones?

-- Jim Sternberg

Dear Jim:
    If you have a wide variety of officials the challenge is to figure out a natural place to stop mentioning them by name so you don't spend your time picking out certain people in the audience ... and end up overlooking others.
    Here is the standard approach: The speaker will specifically acknowledge those on the podium then go on to acknowledge everyone else in a generally way.  
    E.g., The President at the State of the Union Message is on the podium with just the Speaker of the House of Representatives and The Vice President ... so he begins his speech with those officials in precedence order:
        Madame Speaker, Mr. Vice President, distinguished guests, and the American people .... etc.
    If no one is on the podium with you ... thank just the person who introduced you ... so if Thomas Smith is the master of ceremonies ...
        Mr. Smith, distinguished visitors, and ladies and gentlemen ...
    And when ending your speech, I got some excellent advice from Linda Reed, a PSOW Graduate in Eugene, Oregon.  Linda achieved her Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) from Toastmasters International a few years ago. She suggests "To end a speech the speaker would make their final point which could be a summarization of their strongest points or a call to action. Then the speaker can turn and extend a hand to shake hands with the person who will resume the control of the lectern or simply step back from the lectern, but not leave the lectern until the next speaker is there."

   -- Robert Hickey

How to Introduce State and City Officials and In What Order?
     I am involved in fund raising for a non-profit charity which operates a homeless men's overnight shelter.  We have a fund raiser on Saturday, November 7th.  I expect several Washington State Representatives, The mayor of our city, and several city council members to attend.  I need help on the order of introduction as well as the titles to use for each category.  All are elected to office but I don't want to repeat The Honorable over and over.
    Please suggest order and best title to use.

           -- Charles Kolkaski, In the State of Washington

Dear Mr. Kolakaski:
The order in which they are introduced is determined by precedence
    1) Rank your list by their office --- high to low.
    2) When there is more than one official of the same "rank" -- order them within their category.  For elected officials ranking is by length of service in that office. These politicians WILL know their relative ranking (and it's important to them) just like when you go into a market and take a number: You know who was there when you walked in the door, and you know who came after you. You can find the date they took office in their biographies on the state and city websites. 
    3) Officials in their jurisdiction have higher precedence that those out of their jurisdiction: e.g., the mayor of a city has the highest precedence in his or her town. A state representative in his or her jurisdiction is higher than other representatives out of their jurisdictions .... etc.
Making the introductions
    Even if you get tired of saying "The Honorable" over and over your elected guests will not!  Introduce each correctly ... everyone is entitled to their rank and name. So those entitled to "The Honorable" should get it. Doing so makes you knowledgeable and your organization look good. Best of all for a non-profit organization -- saying their names and titles correctly is absolutely free. The formula is:

   1) (The Honorable) + (full name)
        The Honorable Charles Kolakaski
   2) Then the position they hold
        Member of the Washington State House or Representatives for the 20th Legislative District
or House Member for the 20th District
or Member for the 20th District to the Washington State House of Representatives
            -- you get the idea.
        Mayor of (city)
        Council member, (city)

             -- Robert Hickey

Can I Introduce Myself as Mrs. (Last Name)?
Dear Mr. Hickey:
I think there is a rule that one never gives oneself an honorific? So by that rule I would never introduce myself as
Mrs. James Barkley or Mrs. Karen Barkley or Mrs. Barkley.  But recently Carol, the daughter of a friend, addressed me as Karen, and I didn't like it. If I can't say "I am Mrs. Barkley" how can I control what others call me?
    --- Karen Barkley, Fort Wayne, Indiana

Dear Mrs. Barkley:
    Yes ... most formally you wouldn't give yourself an honorific. So don't put Mrs. in front of your name on stationery.
    But there are circumstances where you will want to determine what another person calls you ... and it's absolutely O.K. to simply say "Carol, I'd prefer you call me Mrs. Barkley."
    Sometimes we don't like to have to defend our turf, but you are exercising same option if someone calls you
Mrs. Barkley and you say "Please call me Karen."
    My name is Robert, and I always introduce myself as
Robert, but every once in a while some one will say "it's nice to meet you Bob" ... and just say "I prefer Robert" .. and it's done. It's my name and I am entitled to determine what I am called.
    I can think of other times when It's O.K. to introduce identify yourself with an honorific. Doctors do in their office, at the hospital, and on their answering machine to clarify who they are to patients. Or perhaps in your home to a contractor or service provider and you want to maintain formality ... and distance ... in the situation. In each case you aren't so much giving yourself an honorific as you are giving them your correct name for the situation or relationship. 

                         -- Robert Hickey

January 6, 2009
Dear Sir:
     How would one introduce a President-Elect to the Current Speaker of the House of Representatives?  In making an introduction, I think it would be appropriate to say the Speaker’s name first since his current position takes precedence.  Would you agree?
             --- KB on Capitol Hill

Dear KB:
      Yes, the Speaker has higher precedence in the introduction. Yes you would say the name of the Speaker first.
      Precedence is based on the office, not the soon-to-be office The Speaker is a VIP Code 2, #4 (which is very high) and President-elect is not on the list.
     Or you could say "Mr./Madam Speaker may I present the President-elect" or
"Mr. Madam Speaker may I present the President-elect of the United States" Since you address her by her office, maybe it's a elegant to identify him by his new office?
     Certainly the Speaker knows who the President-Elect is  ... the introduction it to create the moment of ceremony.

           -- Robert Hickey

Do I Introduce a Doctor as Dr. (Name) at a Party?    
   At an event where everyone is on a first name basis, does one introduce a doctor with the honorific “Dr.”?  Or should I introduce his just with his first name ... no "Dr."
        -- Amy K. in Montreal

Dear Amy K.:
n a truly social introduction don't introduce a doctor as Dr. (Name).
    RE: First name basis. Normally only children are introduced with first-names-only.  For adults give first and last names in an introduction -- so both parties get complete information -- then let them switch to first-name-only.
    So saying something like one of the following in a social situation seems good to me ...
       1.   Michael Updike I would like to introduce Kevin Cox.  Michael is a radiologist here in Montreal. Kevin is my neighbor and teaches Canadian history at McGill.
    This gets them started using first names. 
    Or consider this option:
       2.   Michael Updike I would like to introduce to you Kevin Cox.  Dr. Updike is a radiologist here in Montreal. Dr. Cox is my neighbor and teaches Canadian history at McGill.
    This gives them a cue that you are not expecting them to be on a first name basis and gets them started with the more formal terms.

         -- Robert Hickey

Not Finding Your Question Answered?
(1) At left is a list offices/officials covered and (2) below are other topics covered in my blog. Between the two I probably have what you are looking for.
     But after checking both lists if you don't see your question answered send me an e-mail. I am pretty fast at sending a reply: usually the next day (unless I am traveling.)
      If I think your question is of interest to others, I will post the question & answer – but I always change the names and specifics.
      -- Robert Hickey

Mr., Miss, Jr., III, & Names        
Married Women       
Deceased Persons         
People with Two Titles
Post-Nominal Abbreviations and Initials         
Sequence Post-Nominal Abbreviations: Sr., Jr., etc.    
Couples: Private Citizens / Joint Forms of Address 
Couples: U.S. Military / Joint Forms of Address     
Couples: U.S. Officials / Joint Forms of Address      

Former Officials            
Professionals and Academics        

United States Federal Officials, Currently In Office             
United States State Officials, Currently In Office              
United States Municipal Officials, Currently In Office             
       All About The Honorable with U.S. Officials         
       Former United States Officials of all types             
United States Armed Services
       Addressing Active Duty Personnel              
       Addressing Retired Personnel      
       Use of Rank by Retired Personnel      
       Use of Rank by Veterans      

Tribal Officials 
Clergy and Religious Officials           
Canadian Officials         
Australian Officials          
British Officials, Royalty, and Nobility        
Diplomats and International Representatives
Foreign National Officials and Nobility        

Author's Name on His/Her Book       
Business Cards, Names on
Introductions, Names in
Invitations: Names on
Invitations: Names of Armed Service Personnel on        
Name Badges & Tags            
Names on Programs, Signs, & Lists            
Naming a Building or Road            
Place Cards            

Plaques, Awards, Diplomas, Certificates, Names on    
Precedence: Ordering Officials 
Tombstones, Names on      

Site updated by Robert Hickey on 23 March 2020


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Robert Hickey is the author of Honor & Respect:
The Official Guide to Names, Titles, and Forms of Address
Published by The Protocol School of Washington®
Foreword by Pamela Eyring

Available in   Hardcover   /  Kindle   /  Apple Book

Copyright © 2020 Robert Hickey.     All Rights Reserved.
Book Photo: Marc Goodman.