PDI-POA Board, September 2023 - August 2024

Meet the Board


More Information About the Board

Catherine M. Wilson

catherine m. Wilson


Catherine M. Wilson has expertise in managing international visitor protocol, facilitating benefactor and donor stewardship, and executing event and protocol management for distinguished visitors and delegations. She worked as the Director of Protocol, Stewardship, and Partnerships for Notre Dame International at the University of Notre Dame. Previously, she was director of special projects and media relations for the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney for the 60th Judicial Circuit of Indiana. She earned both her bachelor’s degree in philosophy and her master’s in nonprofit administration magna cum laude from the University of Notre Dame, as well as a certificate in hospitality and tourism management from Florida Atlantic University and a Sustainable Events Professional Certificate from Events Industry Council. She is a graduate of The Protocol School of Washington®’s protocol officer training, and is licensed through PSOW as an intercultural protocol and etiquette trainer. She is also certified in GlobeSmart Profile and Inclusive Behaviors Inventory through Aperian Global.
Catherine became a member of PDI-POA in 2016 and has served as a Forum volunteer, Member Buddy, Communications Committee Co-Chair, and Co-Chair of the 2022 International Protocol Education Forum in San Antonio, as well as a member of the Events Committee and the Select Committee on Professional Behaviors, Ethics, and Responsibilities. Catherine joined the board in 2020, serving as Vice President for Communications 2020-2022, and assuming the role of President in September 2022.

Darin f. Pfeifer, ed.d.

Vice President, Continuing Education and Professional Development
Darin Pfeifer is the Assistant Vice President for Administration and Protocol at Drexel University and serves as University Secretary. Located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, Drexel is a comprehensive global research university and is one of America’s 15 largest private universities. Darin has a background in hospitality, constituent engagement, and higher education administration. He is a graduate of The University of South Dakota, Bay Path University, and The Protocol School of Washington. He has worked in the event and protocol industry for over 15 years.

Katelyn Wilcox Surmann

katelyn wilcox surmann

Vice President, Events

Katelyn Wilcox Surmann assumed the role of Assistant Chief of Protocol for the State of Michigan in 2016 and currently serves as the Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) Board Liaison for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. In this position, Katelyn handles of a variety of protocol and international business issues for the State of Michigan. The Protocol office is the primary point of contact with the diplomatic community both in Michigan and worldwide and is responsible for addressing the needs and concerns, diplomatic of otherwise, of this group. Katelyn’s responsibilities entail planning foreign trips for  the Governor and other state officials and assisting with arrangements for visits by heads of state and other dignitaries when state government is involved. Katelyn serves as a resource for protocol, international and cultural issues and interacts with legislators, department directors, top corporate and industry executives, U.S. and foreign leaders as well as university and local government officials on a regular basis.  

Katelyn has over fourteen years of legislative experience, specializing in international affairs since 2014. She holds a B.A. in French and a B.A. in Finance with a Specialization in International Business from Michigan State University. She was elected to the PDI-POA Board of Directors in 2022.

Bryn MacPherson

Bryn MacPherson

Vice President, Membership
Bryn MacPherson’s career has been focused in the higher education and government sectors as Chief of Staff to three Presidents at the University of Toronto (U of T) and three Lieutenant Governors of the Province of Ontario, i.e., representatives of Canada’s Sovereign and Head of State in the Province of Ontario. Currently, she is a member of the President's Leadership Team at U of T. She provides oversight and leadership of the President’s Office and its team in all functional areas, including issues and crisis management; stakeholder relations; strategic communications; institutional events and VIP protocol programming; speechwriting and research; and executive support. She was appointed the University’s first Chief of Protocol in 2014 – the first at a Canadian university.  Bryn has been the recipient of several awards, including the U of T Chancellor’s Influential Leader Award (2020); The U of T Excellence Through Innovation Award (twice: 2016, 2011; The Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012); The Queen Elizabeth Golden Jubilee Medal (2002); and the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada Medal (1992). A graduate of McGill University, she is the proud mother of three adult children, a committed volunteer in the area of mental health and child welfare, and a mentor to younger professionals. 

Eric Dicken



Eric L. Dicken serves as the Director, Chief of Staff Office at Cleveland Clinic. Prior to joining Cleveland Clinic in January 2022, Eric orchestrated hundreds of ceremonies and events for universities, nonprofits, and cultural arts organizations including Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland International Film Festival, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Cleveland Play House, and Cleveland Arts Prize, among others. 

Eric's career spans more than 25 years, and he has forged a reputation as a trusted advisor and an accomplished leader delivering memorable experiences, selecting meaningful gifts, and fostering new connections among partners. 

Eric earned a BA in English and Theatre Arts from Hiram College, a Master of Education in higher education administration from Kent State University, and Master of Nonprofit Organizations from Case Western Reserve University. Additionally, Eric completed Protocol Officer Training at the Protocol School of Washington.

Since joining PDI-POA in 2012, he has been active as a member buddy, Forum volunteer, and manager for the Protocol Prose Book Club.

Maria-Stella Gatzoulis

maria-stella gatzoulis

Maria-Stella Gatzoulis is in charge of Special Events and International Protocol at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. She has over 20 years of event planning and international protocol experience for a major foreign policy research institute. On a typical day, she interacts with and facilitates events for Heads of State, Members of Congress, and other high level VIPs.  She also coordinates logistical and event support for over 1,200 meetings a year related to International Affairs.

She completed her undergraduate studies in Switzerland in International Political Studies, followed by a Masters’ Degree in International Affairs from The American University in Washington, D.C. She also holds a Graduate Certificate in Event Management from George Washington University. She is fluent in Greek, French and Spanish. She was elected to the PDI-POA Board of Directors in 2020, and in 2022 she was the Co-Chair of the International Protocol Education Forum in San Antonio.




Maureen retired from the U.S. Air Force in 2003 after a rewarding and well-traveled career during which she served as a human resources and protocol officer spending the majority of her career holding key positions as a squadron commander, protocol officer and director of staff.  She has resided in and traveled throughout the United Kingdom and the Azores, and also traveled and/or worked in Argentina, Barbados, Croatia, Dominica, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Russia and Uruguay.  Throughout her career Maureen volunteered in many of the local communities she lived in to include coaching gymnastics for Special Olympics.

Since returning to Maine, Maureen has been an active member of and volunteer with Protocol & Diplomacy International/Protocol Officers Association joining in 2013 and serving on its Continuing Education and Professional Development Committee.  For 16 years, she also led the U.S. State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program for the World Affairs Council of Maine.  At the 2016 Global Ties U.S. National Meeting, she received the Excellence in Programming Award "for valuable contributions to the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program, citizen diplomacy, and the field of international exchange; and for consistently exhibiting the creativity, commitment, diligence, flexibility, and professionalism that makes international exchange a key tool in building a more peaceful, prosperous world."  Maureen also led planning committees for two statewide summits on citizen diplomacy held in 2011 and 2014.  She received her B.A. from Hillsdale College and M.Ed. from Vanderbilt University. Maureen is also a 2012 graduate of the Institute for Civic Leadership and 2019 graduate of Leadership Maine.

saeed al-salkhadi

member of the board

Saeed Al-Salkhadi is the Vice President at the Protocol School of Washington. He joined the school in 2011 as the Managing Director of the Middle East & North Africa Region and established their first international office outside the United States in Dubai, UAE. In 2022, he was promoted to be the first school’s Vice President. He provides leadership to position the school at the forefront of the industry and establish strategic partnerships with federal & local government offices as well as leading private sector corporations. 

Saeed conducts trainings, seminars, and coaching sessions on matters of protocol, etiquette and cross-cultural diplomacy. He has trained several governmental, educational and private organizations in the US and the MENA region. His areas of specialty include: Protocol History and Foundations, Titles and Forms of Address, Cross-Cultural Awareness, Business Etiquette and Diplomacy, and Executive Presence.

Prior to joining PSOW, Saeed was the Director of Business Development at Delos Living, an American Group specialized in Wellness Real Estate, at their Regional Office in Dubai, UAE. In 2006, He was among the first ten staff to join the mega-project “Jebel Ali Airport City” in 2006 known today as “Dubai South”, where he specialized in commercial partnerships in Real Estate & Free Zone business development. In 2003, he started his professional career with a
private group in Abu Dhabi, UAE, specializing in life support services for armed forces in the Gulf.

Saeed received his MBA from the American University in Dubai, his M.Sc. in Engineering Systems Management from the American University of Sharjah, and his B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Sharjah in 2003. He was elected to the PDI-POA Board of Directors in 2022.

David Attree

David Attree

Member of the Board
David is currently self employed as a lecturer and presenter. He previously served for 27 years as the Protocol Officer for the Office of International Relations and Protocol, Government of Ontario, Canada. For many years he was the Hospitality Coordinator and Coordinator for Incoming Business and Government Delegations to Ontario for the Office of International Relations and Protocol, Government of Ontario. David was the site coordinator and Protocol Officer for worldwide royal visits to Ontario, and Protocol Officer and administrator for the Consular Corps to Ontario and for the Diplomatic Corps to Canada on visits to Ontario. He has worked as a lecturer and presenter to VIP Security Forces, Provincial and Federal Government program areas including the Diplomatic Corps of Canada. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Toronto. He is also a graduate of The International Butler’s Academy, The Netherlands.

David joined PDI-POA in 2010 and subsequently chaired the International Education Forum in Toronto in 2011. He has enjoyed being a member buddy to new PDI-POA members for many years. David was elected to the Board in 2018.


Mauri Earl

Mauri Earl

Member of the Board

Currently the Director of International Affairs for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Mauri Earl joined the Washington, D.C. Office of Public and International Affairs in May 1999. Previously, she served as International Affairs Representative and Staff Assistant to the Director.

Originally from Reno, Nevada, Mauri graduated from Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo, Utah.  During college, Mauri studied at BYU’s Center for Near Eastern Studies based in Jerusalem, Israel. She also served a mission for the Church in England and Wales.

Mauri is an avid calligrapher and is associated with the International Association of Master Penmen, Engrossers, and Teachers of Handwriting (IAMPETH) and the Washington Calligraphers Guild. She is a member of the Cultural Arts Committee at the Washington D.C. Temple Visitors’ Center located in Kensington, Maryland and is a member of Protocol Diplomacy International – Protocol Officers Association.

LaDonna Myers

LaDonna Myers

Member of the Board
 LaDonna L. Myers is founder of Myers & Associates, LLC., a consulting group designed to business engagement strategies to private, public, and non-profit organizations seeking to expand their international acumen and portfolio. Equipped with more than two decades of experience in Strategic Communications, International Protocol, and Business Operations Management, LaDonna’s consult has been sought by senior-military leaders, Fortune 500 executives, universities, and other entrepreneurs, on what she terms as the “Art & Science” of relationship building and soft-power application. She is the co-organizer of the successful 2022 and 2023 World Protocol Matters Online Conference that garnered a global audience, attracting participants and renowned speakers from more than 40 countries. Passionate about the hidden power of protocol, LaDonna first joined PDI-POA in 2012 and is an alumnus of the Protocol School of Washington (PSOW), International School of Protocol and Diplomacy (ISPD), and United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) Protocol Course. A native of Detroit, Michigan and proud U.S. Air Force veteran, she holds a graduate degree in Public Administration, Troy University, and bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Public Relations, Madonna University, Livonia, Michigan.

Ann Beard

Ann Beard

Founder / Director Emerita
Ann presently owns and operates an international business consulting firm, Diplomacy and International Protocol. For many years, she served as the Chief of Protocol for the city of San Diego, California.  She also chaired the Mayor’s International Affairs Board and acted as the City’s principal liaison to the San Diego Consular Corps and San Diego Sister Cities International Board of Directors. Ann’s long career included organizing significant parts of a G-7 Economic Summit, two Kyoto Peace Prize Awards, two America’s Cup races, a national political convention, and even equestrian events for the Los Angeles Olympic Games in 1984. She is an instructor on international business protocol and diplomacy at San Diego State University. Ann received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Communication Arts from Willamette University and completed post-graduate studies at University of California San Diego Extension in Business Administration.

In 2002, Ann led a group of global protocol professionals to create this Association, an organization to elevate our work, enhance our ongoing education and training, and enlarge our network.  Ann served as PDI-POA’s inaugural president and later as the chair of the Committee on Governance.  Currently she holds the title of Director Emerita and continues to share her wisdom and experience with the Board and all members.

Melissa Werner

melissa k. goitia werner

Immediate Past President 

Melissa is Executive Director of the Office of University Events and Protocol and the Office of University Ceremonies Arizona State University (ASU). She is the co-founder of the North American Association of Commencement Officers (NAACO). Melissa has been producing University Ceremonies since 1999. She previously worked as Development Officer and Program Coordinator with Barrett, The Honors College at ASU. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism/Mass Communication, with a minor in Marketing from Arizona State University and a Masters of Education in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University.

Melissa joined PDI-POA in 2012 and has been a board member since 2016. She chaired the 2018 International Education Forum held in Boston, Massachusetts, and served as Vice President of Events 2016-2020 and President 2020-2022.

Chris Young

Chris Young

Chair, Governance and Ethics
After a long, successful career in government, protocol, politics, and business, Chris is presently on a path toward ministerial ordination and full-time pastoral work. His prior experience includes services as a managing director in Accenture's state and local government strategy and consulting practice; Deputy Chief of Staff, U.S. Department of Agriculture; Executive Director of a United Nations training arm for local governments in the developing world; Executive Director of The Protocol School of Washington; and Chief of Protocol and Director of International Affairs for the State of Georgia. He earned his bachelor's degree from Georgia Tech and his law degree from the University of Georgia. He is set to finish his Masters in Ministry at Richmont and thereafter begin a D.Min. program.

Chris has been a member of PDI-POA since 2005.  He was a voting Director from 2007 to 2014. He became PDI-POA’s youngest President in 2008 and continued that service through 2014, ushering in an era of unprecedented growth. In 2014, the Association honored him with the Ann Beard Board of Directors Award.  In addition to his present duties, he has also served the Association as First Vice President and Chair of the 2016 Atlanta Forum.




Sarah serves as the executive director for PDI-POA and account executive for the association management company since 2022. From 2012 – 2021, she led the alumnae team for a national women’s association headquarters, focusing on member engagement through a practical vision aligning with the organization’s strategic plan. Previous roles include director of a regional youth services organization serving 3 counties in the state of Indiana; event manager for the IU Natatorium, IUPUI and served as the lead for a national swimming competition, Olympic trials, regional and local competitions, and oversaw a 10-week camp program. Sarah is a graduate of Ball State University.