How to Address U.S. State Officials



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HONOR & RESPECT

Abbess,
    Christian Orthodox       
Abbot,
    Christian Orthodox        
Accountant        
Acting Official       
Adjutant General     
Admiral
        

Admiral, Texas Navy   
Adventist Minister       
Alderman
        

Archbishop, Catholic        
Archbishop,
   Christian Orthodox        
Archdeacon, Episcopal        
Archimandrite        
Architect
Archpriest        
Ambassador, Goodwill
Ambassador to your country
   from a foreign country      
Ambassador of the U.S.
   by a U.S. Citizen       
American Indian Chief        
Assemblyman
   U.S., State / or           

   Assemblywoman            
Associate Justice,
   U.S. Supreme Court          
Associate Justice of a
   State Supreme Court
Astronaut      
Attorney
         
Attorney General           
Attorney General,
       Assistant   
Attorney, U.S.         
Australian Officials    

Baron, Baroness           
British Officials,
   Royalty, Nobility     
Brother, Catholic
         
Brother,
   Christian Orthodox          
Bishop, Catholic            
Bishop,
   Christian Orthodox         
Bishop, Episcopal        
Board Member     
Boy        
Brigadier General       
Business Cards      

Canadian Officials    
Candidate    
Captain,
   USA, USAF, USMC     
Cardinal
             
Chairman
    Federal Reserve      
Chairwoman      
Chancellor      
Chaplain in the
    Armed Services        
Chaplain of Congress          

Chargé d’Affaires         
Chief Executive Officer 
Chief Judge          
Chief Justice,
      U.S. Supreme Court 
Chief Justice, of a State
      Supreme Court             

Chief of Police          
Chief of Staff     

Chief Operating
   Officer          
Child
           
Chiropractor     
City Manager
   
Clergy & Religious
    Officials     
Club Official          
Colonel, Kentucky      
Colonel, USA, USAF,
    or USMC     
Commandant       
Commissioner, Court     
Commissioner
         
Commodore of a         
      Yacht Club         
Congressman, U.S.               
Congresswoman, U.S.   
Consul and or
   Consul General   
 
Consultant      
Corporate Executive         
Councilman
    Councilwoman      
Counselor (Diplomat)      
Countess     
County Officials       
Couples     
    U.S. Military
    U.S. Officials
    Private Citizens  
Curator        

Dalai Lama          
Deacon         
Dean, academic            
Dean, clergy            
Deceased Persons        
Degree, honorary      
Delegate, U.S., State
            

Dentist             
Deputy Chief of Mission      
Deputy Marshal          
Designate,
Elect,
    Pro Tempore      
Diplomats      

District Attorney           
Doctor, Chiropractor     
Doctor of Dentistry
          
Doctor of Medicine              
Doctor, Military           
Doctor of
   Veterinary Medicine          
Doctor, Optometrist   
Doctor of Osteopathy            
Doctor, Other Disciplines     
Doctorate        
Doctorate, honorary      

Earl            
Elect, Designate
  
Pro Tempore      
Emeritus/emerita
     
Eminence     
Emperor    
Engineer    
Esquire, Esq.       
Etiquette    
Excellency           

Family     
Fiancee      
Firefighter    
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 Governor
   or Lt. Gov.    
First Lieutenant
   
Flag Protocol     
Former Officials    
Freeholder       

Gay Couple      
Geshe

General
    USA, USAF, USMC
Girl       

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

Governor, Tribal Council          
Governor, U.S. State       
Governor, Former    
Governor
    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   
Introductions       
Invitations
  
   Writing &  
   Addressing  
Invitations
   
Military:
    Writing &
    Addressing

Judge, former     
Judge of US City or

        US Count     
Judge, US Federal            
Junior, Senior,
    I, II, III, etc.       

Justice, Associate

     Federal
     Supreme Court

Justice, Associate

     State
     Supreme Court

King     
Knight      

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

Lieutenant Governor    
     

Major
   USA, USAF, USMC  
Major General,
   USA, USAF, USMC   
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    
Medic      
Minister,
   Protestant Clergy       
Miss      
Monk,
   Christian Orthodox     
Monsignor       
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, British
       
Nobility, Other     
Nun, Catholic
  
Nun, Orthodox
Nurse           

Officer, Police     
Optometrist     

Pastor, Christian Clergy  
Patriarch,
   Christian Orthodox  
Patriarch,
   Ecumenical Patriarch
   of Constantinople  
People with Two Titles      
Permanent
     Representative        
Petty Officer
      
Pharmacist     
Physician
        
PhD     
Place Cards            
Police Chief
Police Officer                     
Pope, Catholic
  
Pope, Coptic
      
Postmaster General         
Post-Nominal
    Abbreviations    
Presbyter, Orthodox
   
President, corporate
President of
    College or
    University   
President of a
    Secondary
    School      
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  
President-elect
    of the U.S.   
Priest, Catholic          
Priest,
    Christian Orthodox 
Priest, Episcopal        
Prime Minister
       
Principal      
Professionals
   & Academics         
Professor
     
Pro Tempore,
   Elect, Designate    
Psychologist      

Queen

Rabbi               
Ranger, Texas        
Representative,
   U.S., Federal           
Representative,
   U.S., State            
Reservist, Military      
Resident
    Commissioner 
Retired Military
   1. Formula For
       How to Address     
   2. Q&A / Blog On
       Use of Rank by
       Retired Military    
 

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

Same Sex Couple      
Salvation Army    
School Board Member
     
Second
Lieutenant        
Secretary,
   U.S. Department,
   Member of the Cabinet
Secretary
   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       
Sergeant at Arms
          
Seventh Day
     Adventist Minister       
Sheriff       
Sister, Catholic       
Solicitor General      
Speaker of the U.S.
   House of
   Representatives.           
Specialist       
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        
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)         
Veterinarian
           
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
   Viscountess        

Warrant Officer       
Widow
     
White House Staff    
Woman, business        
Woman, social        

Yacht Club Officer      


 

How to Address / Forms of Address
U.S. State Officials

Questions & Answers, Frequently Asked Questions, and Blog


Site updated by Robert Hickey on October 31, 2014

How Do I Address an Acting Governor?          
How Do I Address an former state official?          

How Do I Address a Lieutenant Governor ?      
How Do I Address a State Cabinet Secretary?                     
How Do I Address a State Attorney General?                     
Do I Address an Attorney General as "General"?                     
How Do I Address a State Treasurer?        
How Do I Address a State Legislator?                     

How Do I Address the Wife of a Governor?     
How Do I Address the Wife of a Governor Who Uses      
     A Different Last Name Than Her Husband ?      

How Do I Address the Girlfriend of a Governor?     
How Do I Address the Wife of a Lieutenant Governor?      

How Do I Address a Kentucky Colonel?          

How Do I Address a State Judge?        
How Do I Address a Magistrate?         
How to Address a Clerk of a Circuit Court?         
How to Address a Friend of the Court?     
 

Looking for Joint Forms of Address? (Two Names in the Address)
Link to Q&A just on Joint Forms of Address

How Do I Address a Former Official?
Link to Q&A /Blog just on Former Officials  (not Military)

All about The Honorable
Link to Q&A just on officials in the U.S. addressed as The Honorable

How to Address a former State Official? 
 
       How is a former state senator addressed in Pennsylvania?
 
       -- Kevin Lambert

Dear Mr. Lambert:

       A three-part answer.
       1) All states are the same.
       2) Former state senators may continue to be socially addressed as Senator (Name) at their preference.
       This follows the rule that if you held an office which had a special honorific that many office holders held at the same time (there were many senators when he was a senator) you may continue to be socially addressed in the style of the office, after leaving office. Other offices following this rule include: ambassador, justice, judge, general and all the military ranks.
       3) But to address him/her as Senator (Name) as an office holder of a subsequent position/job/office would be improper ... because it might seem he or she still held some status of their former office ... that his or her actions are in some way supported by the state government.
       For example, a former senator would not be addressed as
Senator (Name) if he was a practicing attorney-at-law .... or if he or she was a candidate for mayor of the city. 
       The fact that he or she was a state senator would be include in a bio, but he or she would be officially addressed as
Mr./Ms. (Name).
       -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a Kentucky Colonel #1?
     Greetings! I just wish to find out if the following is true:
     "In the Commonwealth of Kentucky, commissioned Kentucky Colonels are considered members of the Governor's Staff and his honorary aides-de-camp, and as such are entitled to the style of 'Honorable' as indicated on their commission certificates. The commission and letters patent granted by the Governor and Secretary of State bestowing the title of Kentucky Colonel refers to the honoree as 'Honorable First Name Last Name'."
     I was commissioned by the former Gov. Paul E. Patton in 2003, but it appears that no one knows if it is okay to use the "honorable" title. It would be great if you could clear some clouds for us and I'll submit the finding to the board of our order. Thanks.
           -- Not Colonel Sanders

Hi NCS:
 
  There are always local rules to which a community abides. As one explores adjacent realms, the protocol rules are those on which the all the adjacent communities mutually agree.
      Like a Texas Admiral, or a Nebraska Admiral, a Kentucky Colonel is an honorary rank used at events sponsored by an organization.  In this case the 'organization' is the Commonwealth of Kentucky -- but it is not a rank used as a basis of precedence outside the organization's realm. The borders of the realm my be metaphorical, but they do not include United States Army, Navy, Air Force or Marine Corps events or the Pentagon, for example.

    If a Kentucky governor declares you to be a Kentucky Colonel you are entitled to be addressed as Honorable (First Name) (Last Name) anywhere the rank is pertinent. Definitely that would be at the Kentucky Derby!
   
For
Kentucky colonels, it is Honorable rather than The Honorable. I don't know why, but the certificates naming one to be a Kentucky Colonel are made out as simply Honorable (Full Name).

    Outside Kentucky (this is the exploring adjacent realms part), The Honorable is universally used to officially address those who are elected to public office, or who are appointed go their office by The President of the United States and approved by the U.S. Senate.
     So an elected mayor of any city in Kentucky would be officially addressed as
The Honorable  inside and outside of Kentucky.  But as a Kentucky Colonel you are not going to be officially addressed as Honorable (Full Name) outside of Kentucky ... say ... in Ohio or Tennessee.

    You write the appointment was to be a member of the Governor's Staff and his honorary aides-de-camp  by a former governor. So what happen when he is out of office?
     The rule is if it's not a one-at-a-time position, you can keep on using the title ... so the form of address would continue for the rest of your life.  

    Many organizations have honorary positions ... many universities give out honorary degrees -- which also fall into the category of personal honors and distinctions.  An honorary doctorate is sort of a doctorate .... but it is not exactly the same thing when you are applying to join a university faculty.
    At The Protocol School of Washington we always laugh that there is no "protocol police" to make sure you are correctly addressed. I predict that those who share your interest in your office, and understand the honor it represents, will honor you and address you as
Honorable (Full Name).
            -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a State Treasurer?
 
       Our office is currently debating the use of “Honorable”. We all agree that Treasurers elected directly by the people receive the title honorable and are entitled to it even after leaving office. What we are not clear about is whether or not those state treasurers (or similar fiscal officers) either appointed by the governor (some requiring Senate confirmation, some not) or elected by their state legislators can use the title. Can you please help us?
        -- J. L. @ National State Treasurers Association

Dear JL:

        Your question addresses an interesting issue: the application of the generally accepted rules are relatively easy to apply in Washington, but as practiced at state and municipal levels, the forms become less clear.
      
At a federal level, some the highest appointed officials are "The Honorable": Appointed by the President / approved by the Senate.  And at a state level, it is my observation that states DO address their cabinet level officials as "The Honorable."
       With the variety of paths to office you mention, elected, appointed & confirmed, and simply appointed ... and that the precedence/stature of a particular office varies from state to state ....
you will need to contact the individual treasurers to find out what is their state's tradition.
        -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a Clerk of a Circuit Court?
    How does one address the Clerk of a Circuit Court (an elected position)?

               -- Wanda

Dear Wanda:
    If the clerk was elected to office then he or she is The Honorable. Address the letter:
         The Honorable (full name)
             Clerk of the Circuit Court
                 (Name of Court, e.g., 22nd Judicial Circuit of (State))
                      (Address)

   Open the letter with the salutation:
         Dear Mr./Ms. (Surname):
                           -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a General Magistrate?
    Our court reporting department names the presiding judge on transcript title pages as “Honorable John Q. Smith.”  We also prepare transcripts for hearings that were presided over by a general magistrate.  Would you suggest the use of the word “honorable” in those instances?

                -- Carol Stanley

Dear Ms. Stanley:
    Magistrates in every jurisdiction I know of are "The Honorable."  They are judges of Magistrate Courts.
    A general magistrate is an attorney appointed by a judge to take testimony and recommend actions ... and is not a judge. "The Honorable" is used by those elected, those appointed to their positions by The President of the United States ... and by Judges however they become judges. I am unfamiliar with "general magistrates" ... I suggest you ask the "general magistrate" whether or not he or she is an "Honorable"  He or she will know.
    NOTE .... more correct than Honorable John Q. Smith ... would be ... The Honorable John Q. Smith.

               -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a State Secretary of a Department?
      I am addressing an invitation to Ben Brancel, the Secretary of the Wisconsin State Dept. of Agriculture, trade and Consumer Protection. If we were inviting Tom Vilsack, Secretary of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, I would address the letter Dear Hon. Vilsack. But I am uncertain how to address a state-level official such as Mr. Brancel? Thank you,
           -- Pat Duryea
              Manager, Communications and Membership
              TBA Export Council.

Dear Pat Duryea:
      Actually, Dear Hon. Vilsack is not correct.
      "Hon." is not as an honorific like "Mr." "Dr." "Senator" "Commissioner" or "General"
      "The Honorable" is a courtesy title, an it always precedes a full name.
      In conversation or in a salutation you change over to what ever honorific they are entitled to ....  "Governor"  "Ambassador"  "Senator"  "Judge"  etc.
      A Secretary of a US Department, member of The President of the United States' cabinet, is addressed on the outside envelope as:
  
             The Honorable Tom Volsack
               (Complete Address)
      I would use "Tom" rather than "Thomas" since that's what his office uses on his website / so it must be his preference.
      In the salutation the traditional, most formal form would be
               Dear Mr. Secretary:
      Or also traditional, but slightly less formal is:
               Dear Secretary Volsack:
      State secretaries follow the same pattern:
               The Honorable Ben Brancel
               (Complete Address)
      And in the salutation use:
               Dear Secretary Brancel:
      When I was researching my book I polled a number of state secretaries ... and they unanimously preferred "Secretary (Surname)" rather than "Mr./Madame Secretary".  One state secretary expressed it this way: there is only one US Secretary of our discipline in the Cabinet in Washington ... but there are 50 of us at the state level ... so the singular title makes less sense.
 
         -- Robert Hickey

How to Write a Name Badge for a State Cabinet Secretary?
    Can you please straighten my thinking out about name badges regarding state cabinet members for the governor?
    Would it be: Ms. Susan Simmons, Secretary of Commerce
     Or: Secretary Susan Simmons, Secretary of Commerce
    Your book mentions that name badges should follow rules of place cards and place cards should state a name as in a conversation...
    One would address Sec. Simmons as such ... not Ms. Simmons... correct?  But it doesn't look right...I am confused.  My event is this week ... yikes.

                -- Jeane DeGrothy

Dear Ms. DeGrothy:
    Name badges usually do tell the other person what the person wearing the name badge should be called ... but in this case I think you want to also identify the dignitary so everyone knows the position this person holds.
    As a State Cabinet member, Susan Simmons is (see page 169-170 of my book) addressed as Madame Secretary most formally in conversation and less formally as Secretary Simmons.
    Ms. Susan Simmons is never correct for a Cabinet member.
    So the option I'd like best on the name badge would be:

The Honorable
Susan Simmons
Secretary of Commerce

    That appears on page 170, 6th line down. That's form is "correct" ... and it provides enough information for someone to figure out her name and her position.
               -- Robert Hickey

Is a State Attorney General "the Honorable"?    
   I am writing a letter to the State Attorney General. I noticed on your website that you address the US Attorney General as the Honorable. Do you do the same for the State Attorney General?
        -- Vincent Hall

Dear Mr. Hall:   
   Yes ... High officials appointed by governors of the US states are also addressed as "the Honorable."
         -- Robert Hickey

Is An Attorney General Addressed as "General"?    
   I am told that we should address our state attorney general as "General".  However, I think the derivation of the term "attorney general" is that this office is the attorney for the general populace/constituency rather than an attorney for a specific group or person, and that the rank of the office is not a "general" in the military sense.
        -- GB in Salt Lake

Dear GB in SL:
    Addressing an attorney general as "General (Name)" is wacky.
         Mister/Madam Attorney General .... yes
         Mr./Ms. (surname) ....
yes
    You might hear an attorney general referred to as Attorney General (Name) in the media, or perhaps in a situation where those present might not that they were in the presence of the Attorney general, but that's a phrase to identify him or her, not a direct form of address.

         -- Robert Hickey

How Do I Address an Acting Governor?
    
How do you introduce an Acting Governor?
    Is an Acting Governor only the Acting Governor when the elected Governor is out of state? Or is he or she introduced as an Acting Governor all the time?
      -- FG

 
Hi FG:
    When formally introducing an acting governor say: May I present the Honorable (full name), Acting Governor of (Name of State).
    An acting governor is not formally addressed as Governor (name)
or as Acting Governor (name). The rule is "address by rank, identify by office" -- so orally address an acting governor with the honorific to which her or she is entitled based on the office he or she actually holds.
    While he or she is not directly addressed in conversation as Acting Governor (name) one might refer to him or her as that in the third person, such as: ...the Acting Governor (name) will be arriving in 20 minutes.
                        -- Robert Hickey

How Do I Address a Judge?
Dear Mr. Hickey:
I have been asked to write a letter to a judge. Having been out of school a while, my skill is very rusty. Specifically, I need to know the salutation, how to address him in the body of the letter, and an appropriate closing with respect to his status.
    --- Roger Faust

Dear Mr. Faust:
    Address the envelope to the Judge as The Honorable (Full name).
    In the letter's address block use The Honorable (Full name).
    The salutation is Dear Judge (Surname):
    An appropriate closing would be Sincerely,
          -- Robert Hickey

How to Do You Address a Friend of the Court?
    How do you address the Friend of the Court?
                  -- Tom

Dear Tom:
    A Friend of the Court is a role, not an official office like an elected or appointed judge, sheriff, or member of a city council  ... all of which get special forms of address.
    Address using the formula for a private citizen: (Appropriate honorific) + (Their name) and simply then identify by (office) when identification is appropriate.
   
Friend of the Court wouldn't be used before the name as an honorific.
    For example:
        In conversation: Mr./Mrs./Ms./Dr./Pastor/etc. (name)
        In an introduction: Judge Wilson, may I present Mr./Ms./Dr./Pastor/etc. (name), who is a Friend of the Court ...

             -- Robert Hickey

How to Address State Legislators?
    Are state senators and state congressmen addressed as "the Honorable"?
  
      -- PJ in Lincoln Nebraska

Dear PJ:
     Yes ... anyone elected to a state legislature is addressed as The Honorable (full name).

                    -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a Lieutenant Governor?
Lieutenant Governor? Lieutenant? Governor?
 
   It has been said the Lieutenant Governor of a US state should be addressed as Governor just as a Lt. Colonel is addressed as Colonel.  People want to address the Lt. Gov. with the whole title of "Lieutenant Governor", however, that is very cumbersome.  Or should the person address simply be, "Mr. Jones"?
        -- Wondering

Dear Wondering:
    Addressing a lieutenant governor as Governor (name) is really going to displease the Governor of your state. There is only one Governor. 
     Actually, lieutenant governors don't have a special honorific for their office. Simply address him or her as Mr./Ms./etc. (name) ... and identify as the Lieutenant Governor of (state) as necessary.
    You might hear the Lieutenant Governor referred to as  "Lieutenant Governor Herbert" or "Lieutenant Governor Bell" in the media, but these are phrases used to identify these officials in a news story, not a direct forms of address.

         -- Robert Hickey

How to Address the Wife of a Governor?    
   I am writing a letter to the wife of the governor of my state.  Do I address her in the salutation as Dear Mrs. Jindal: or is there another title I should use?  I am inviting her to an event at my school, and I want to make sure I use the correct language in the letter.  Thanks for your help.
     -- Sarah Elizer, Parkview Baptist School, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Dear Ms. Elizer,
    Yes ... she is addressed in a salutation most correctly as Dear Mrs. Jindal:  
    Look at the form I give for the First Lady of the United States ... you can modify it.
    Use neither Mrs. (Her First Name)(Surname) nor Mrs. (Husband's Full Name) ... Simply
Mrs. Jindal is the traditional form.
              Mrs. (Surname)
             (Governor's Mansion)
             (City, State, ZIP)

    When she visits your school have everyone address her orally as
Mrs. Jindal.
    Then, when you introduce her the assembled students say ....
        May I present Supriya Jindel, wife of the Governor of the State of Louisiana.

    You can ask if she likes to called the "First Lady of Louisiana" ... if she does (some spouses of governors like to be identified as the First Lady of [state]) ... then you could say ...
        May I present Supriya Jindel, First Lady of the State of Louisiana.

    Reason for using "State of Louisiana"?
    Using the official name of a state (or country) is more formal than saying just "Louisiana."  It is the official name of the state.

         -- Robert Hickey

How Do I Address the Wife of a Governor Who Uses A Different Last Name than her Husband?
Thanks for your informative web site, which I visited via Google. I couldn't find an answer to my question" -- that of how to address a letter to Maria Shriver. I am not sure what the protocol is for a governor's wife, and, in this case, a governor's wife who, I believe, uses her maiden name. I'm stuck!
?
    --- G. Persis


Dear Ms. Persis:
    Maria Shriver presents herself as Maria Shriver: she established herself professionally with that name prior to marriage, and has not chosen as First Lady to be Mrs. Arnold Schwarzenegger. So normally I would address a letter to her as:
   
    Ms. Maria Shriver
 
            State Capitol Building
           
   
Sacramento, CA 95814
    However, the state website (http://www.firstlady.ca.gov/contact/ ) says letters should be addressed to:
   
    First Lady Maria Shriver
       
    State Capitol Building
           
   
Sacramento, CA 95814
     The site is using First Lady as an honorific like Mayor, Bishop, Captain or Dr.   "First Lady" isn't typically or traditionally an honorific for the wives of elected officials. Recent First Ladies in Washington have requested to be introduced as First Lady Laura Bush or First Lady Hilary Clinton ... but these are forms for an introduction .... not as a written form of direct address.
     But back to California .... in spite of the fact that
First Lady Maria Shriver is unusual, you should address your letter to First Lady Maria Shriver as the website suggests, because it's courteous to follow the preference of the individual.
    Write the salutation: Dear Ms. Shriver.
    And close with: Sincerely,.
                          -- Robert Hickey

Is the Wife of a Lieutenant Governor a "Second Lady"?
      Is there an official guideline in print somewhere that states we are to address the wife of a Lt. Governor as second lady.  I have not found anything that refers to this or gives that title to a LT. Governor’s spouse.  Any information would be greatly appreciated.

        -- Diane

Dear Diane:
     I see the spouses of many officials informally described as a First Lady to define who they are.  But it's not a form of address. The wife of a lieutenant governor is most formally Mrs. (Surname), wife of the Lieutenant Governor of (Name of State). There is no title.
    The only spouses of government officials I know of having official special forms of address are (1) the spouse of the Queen's representative to a Commonwealth realm ... addressed as His/Her Excellency Mrs. (Husband's full name) in writing and in
Your Excellency conversation ... and (2) the spouse of the Queen's representative to a province ... addressed as His/Her Honor (full name) in writing and in Your Honor conversation.
    On the website of the "First Lady of California" ... Maria Shriver is referred to her as First Lady Maria Shriver ... but that's not a form of address .... it's descriptive of who she is.  If you actually meet her ... call her Ms. Shriver (since she's stated she prefers Shriver than to being addressed as Mrs. Schwarzenegger.)
    Even "First Lady of the United States" is not an office. When the wife of The President attends events as The President's representative she is granted his precedence, but she has no official precedence.
    I've seen "First Lady" used as an honorific at some African-American churches where they address the spouse of their pastor First Lady (Surname). But using "First Lady" as an honorific is not the tradition at the White House or with other political spouses. Michelle Obama is correctly addressed as Mrs. Obama.

 
                    -- Robert Hickey

Is a Girlfriend Addressed as "First Lady"?
      I have a question about the title of the Governor of New York's girlfriend. She is Sandra Lee from the food network. What would her title be as his girlfriend? Would she be addressed as the First Lady if they aren't married?  Hope you can help. If she isn't called First Lady, how would she be addressed? Thanks so very much.

        -- PR in Florida

Dear PR,
       Spouses, partners, girlfriends (cousins, children, and nieghbors, etc.) of officials do not receive any forms of address based on their spouse's/ partner's/ boyfriend's office. Spouses typically DO get preferential seating as a courtesy to the official ... e.g., when they are with the official -or- the preferential seat the official would get when they are representing the official.
       Interestingly the First Lady of the United States is not even on The White House's Precedence List ... she has no official standing herself: She is not an official since, she was not elected.
       And while the wife of a President is described as The First Lady ... there is no official form of address. She is addressed as "Mrs. Obama." Yes, you hear newscasters saying "First Lady Michele Obama" ... but that's not a form of address ... its' a newscaster using a shorthand to refer to her in the third person. So Sandra Lee will remain Ms. Sandra Lee.
       If you were to address a social envelope to them, here's how it should look:
              The Honorable Andrew Cuomo
                     and Ms. Sandra Lee

        -- Robert Hickey


Not Finding Your Question Answered?
Below are other topics covered in my blog and at right is a list of officials, Between the two I probably have what you are looking for.
     After hunting around a bit, 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 – with your name and any personal specifics changed.
      -- Robert Hickey

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

USE OF SPECIFIC OFFICIAL TITLES        
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, Active Duty             
       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        

SPECIFIC SITUATIONS
Business Cards       
Couples        
Etiquette
            
Flags and Anthem Protocol             
Introductions
            
Invitations: Writing & Addressing
        
Invitations: Just Armed Service Personnel        
Name Badges & Tags            
Names on Programs, Signs, & Lists            
Naming a Building or Road            
Place Cards            

Plaques, Awards, Diplomas, Certificates    
Precedence: Ordering Officials 
         
Thank You Notes             


Site updated by Robert Hickey on October 31, 2014


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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

Copyright © 2013 Robert Hickey.     All Rights Reserved.
Book Photo: Marc Goodman.





All information on www.formsofaddress.info is copyright © 2013 by Robert Hickey.
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