ARLINGTON, Va. — From the proper etiquette of entering a room at an important ceremony, to facilitating international communication and cooperation with top foreign dignitaries and senior officers, a protocol officer’s job is complex and important. Do the right thing, and the event goes smoothly. Get it wrong, and the impact could be widespread.
Enter Joe Tello, from the Office of Naval Research (ONR), who was recently named Protocol Officer of the Year for 2017.
Tello was announced as the top in the field — among the best protocol officers from around the world — at the 16th Annual International Protocol Education Forum, held in Dublin, Ireland, last month.
The award is made by the Protocol & Diplomacy International - Protocol Officers Association.
“Receiving this prestigious award on behalf of the United States, the Department of Defense, the Department of the Navy and the Office of Naval Research, is such a great honor,” said Tello, ONR’s chief protocol officer. “I am proud to represent all the protocol officers around the world for what we do to make our organizations and our principals look good in the eyes of the world.”
Tello has been ONR’s protocol officer for 10 years — serving three chiefs of naval research during that time — and is involved in a never-ending series of events that need an eagle eye and command-wide event coordination — including symposia, galas, embassy events and special-purpose engagements, like military promotions, awards and retirement ceremonies.
Protocol officers like Tello have to ensure the big picture of an event is covered. This includes considerations like who needs to be invited, a crucial task, and making sure the venue is properly set up, flags are in the right order and name tents are in place.
“Paying attention to every little detail in the room is important — it’s the details that make your official engagement a success or a disaster,” said Tello.
But the protocol officer also plays a major role when it comes to ONR’s involvement at international events.
“ONR deals with a lot of science and technology foreign dignitaries, whether here at headquarters or in their respective country,” said Tello. “My job is to ensure that our leaders are advised in the proper protocol and etiquette of the different countries to ensure a smooth event and to keep anyone from making any cultural mistakes.”
And these international events are the reason Capt. John Gearhart, ONR assistant chief of naval research, submitted Tello for the award.
“ONR is extremely proud that one of our own received such a tremendous recognition,” said Gearhart. “Joe’s expertise has been instrumental in facilitating communication, particularly with our international partners, furthering our science and technology mission abroad.”
The award comes with a certificate of the 2017 Protocol Officer of the Year, a one-year membership to the Protocol & Diplomacy International - Protocol Officers Association and a Tiffany & Co. Silver Pen — which Tello will undoubtedly be using on a daily basis.
Sierra Jones is a contractor for ONR Corporate Strategic Communications.
About the Office of Naval Research
The Department of the Navy’s Office of Naval Research provides the science and technology necessary to maintain the Navy and Marine Corps’ technological advantage. Through its affiliates, ONR is a leader in science and technology with engagement in 50 states, 55 countries, 634 institutions of higher learning and nonprofit institutions, and more than 960 industry partners. ONR, through its commands, including headquarters, ONR Global and the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., employs more than 3,800 people, comprising uniformed, civilian and contract personnel.