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Preaching Protocol in Washington

Ernestina Naadu Mills, the first lady of Ghana, was honored Sunday night at UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Esther Coopersmith’s home.

Washington D.C. — White House Chief of Protocol Capricia Marshall took time out from planning a July 4 protocol summit at the State Department to honor Ernestina Naadu Mills, the first lady of Ghana, on Sunday night at UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Esther Coopersmith’s home.

One of nine African representatives invited to the First Ladies’ Youth Infusion Summit, Mills, had no reservations about naming her favorite part of the evening. "I got to talk with ChelseaClinton’s mother-in-law," she said, sitting net to Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky just back from Atlantic City where she celebrated her 70th birthday with Chelsea, her son Mark and Bill and Hillary Clinton.

"We all walked the boardwalk together and people came up and snapped our pictures," Mezvinsky told the Ghanaian First Lady. Coopersmith’s reception also featured the Ambassadors of Nigeria and Ghana who together raised their glasses to White House Chief of Protocol Capricia Marshall.

"My wife Rose says all we do is gossip and it’s true," said Daniel Ohene Agyekum, the ambassador of Ghana. "We talk about how much Ambassador Marshall does for us." Ambassador Adebowale Ibidapo Adefuye of Nigeria rose to his feet to second his colleague’s toast. "She makes us look good. That let’s us stay longer. And that makes us better at doing our jobs," said Adefuye, adding,"People ask what is the difference between Nigeria and Ghana and I tell them, we’re like Pepsi and Coke. There is no real difference."

On Wednesday, Marshall is hosting 100 chiefs of protocol flying into Washington from around the globe for a Fourth of July protocol summit, starting with plenary session panels and discussion groups at the State Department and ending with fireworks. On Thursday, Coopersmith will welcome the group to her Kalorama home before the group divides up for private dinners hosted by Judith Barnet at the Cosmos Club, Ronald and Beth Dozoretz and former protocol chief Lloyd and Ann Hand.

"In some countries the seat of honor is to the right. In other countries, protocol dictates you seat the most important guest to your left,’’ said Marshall who also served as White House social secretary in the Clinton administration. Noting that her boss of 20 years, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has wondered if all the different rules could be codified, Marshall said, :When we all get together, everything will be on the table and open for discussion." As for the whereabouts of the peripatetic Hillary Clinton, Marshall said, "She’s on travel in Paris."