The Protocol School of Washington

Robert Hickey, "Honor & Respect"

How to Address a Director

There are two answers to this:

#1) High Directors in U.S. Government

tiveOfficials entitled to be addressed as ‘the Honorable (Full Name)’ are elected in a general election or individually appointed to office by the President (POTUS) and approved by the Senate. The ‘Director of the Office of Management and Budget’  falls into the latter category and is ‘the Honorable’.

tiveThese directors and their deputy directors are ‘the Honorable’. Other agencies which have ‘the Honorable’ directors include: Director of the National Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Office of National Drug Control Policy, and the National Counterterrorism Center. There could be others, so if you are unsure call their office and ask their staff.

tive‘Director’ is not formally used in writing as an honorific. You will hear ‘Director (Name)” often used in the media and informally around their agency. ‘Director (Name)’ works anytime there is a need to emphasize the office the person holds, and there is a concern that not everyone will know who is who?

Robert Hickey, "Honor & Respect"

—-Addressed in writing as:
—-—-The Honorable (Full Name)
—-—-(Name of Agency)

—-In an introduction, or in a program, identify after their name as:
—-—-Mr./Ms./Dr./etc. (Full Name), Director of the (Name of Agency)

—-In conversation or a salutation are addressed as:
—-—-Mr./Ms./Dr./etc. (Surname)

Former ‘directors’ are not ‘Director (Name)’. Being a director is a role one inhabits – not a rank one attains and holds.

#2) Directors of Private Institutions

—-These directors are addressed in writing as
—-—-Mr./Ms./Dr./etc. (Full Name)
—-—-(Name of Institution)

—-In an introduction, or in a program:
—-—-Mr./Ms./Dr./etc. (Full Name), Director of the (Name of Institution)

—-In conversation or a salutation:
—-—-Mr./Ms./Dr./etc. (Surname)

Sometimes when it is desirable to identify the person’s role you hear “Director (Surname) will be here in 20 minutes” or  “We should seat ‘Director (Surname) at the head table”.   But, written address as Director (Name) is not the norm.

– Robert Hickey

Robert Hickey, "Honor & Respect"

When Should You Use the Forms of Address on this Page?

You can use these forms of address for any mode of communication: addressing a letter, invitation, card or Email. (If there are differences between the official and social forms of address, I will have mentioned the different forms.)  The form noted in the salutation is the same form you say when you say their name in conversation or when you greet them.


Not Finding Your Question Answered?

—-#1)  At right on desktops, at the bottom of every page on tablets and phones, is a list of all the offices, officials & topics covered on the site.

—-#2)  After checking the list and reading the posts, 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 or so (unless I am traveling.)  Note: I don’t have mailing or Email addresses for any of the officials and I don’t keep track of offices that exist only in history books.

—-#3)  If I think your question is of interest to others, I will post the question & answer – but leave out your name and change all the specifics.

— Robert Hickey 

Robert Hickey, "Honor & Respect"

The Protocol School of Washington (PSOW) was founded in 1988 and offers open-enrollment, classroom-based programs where students learn to become a licensed Intercultural Etiquette and Protocol Trainer, or can earn a certificate in operational protocol by completing Protocol Officer Training. Private, on-site training is also available to provide tailored training solutions. In 2020, PSOW launched online, instructor-led training to meet the needs of students worldwide.

PSOW has offices in: Washington, DC; Columbia, SC; and Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The school is nationally accredited by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET) and provides international protocol, cross-cultural awareness, business etiquette, and image training preparing professionals to build lasting business relationships.


Protocol and Diplomacy International – Protocol Officers Association promotes the protocol profession and raises awareness of its central role in business and diplomacy through education and networking. PDI-POA’s mission is to share the highest level of collective expertise, training, information and advice regarding accepted rules of protocol. PDI-POA is committed to facilitating communication, understanding and cooperation among individuals, governments and cultures around the globe.