For more than two decades, Mark Verheul’s career has been focused on protocol, diplomacy, event management, and strategic networking on local, national and international levels and has brought him to six continents.
In different occupational capacities he has been involved in coordinating state visits, global conferences, one-on-one high-level meetings, national commemorations and celebrations, receptions, dinners, concerts and sports events, as well as numerous business forums and university visits. Mark’s expertise is combining vision and policy with performance and hospitality. In April 2016, Amsterdam University Press published the book An Experts’ Guide to International Protocol, which Mark wrote with Gilbert Monod de Froideville. In the same year, Mark founded his training and consultancy firm International Protocol & Strategic Networking and became master trainer for Protocol International.
Since then, he delivered many different kinds of programmes to governments, international organisations, educational institutes and corporations in a.o. New York, Chicago, San Diego, Moscow, Kathmandu, Thimphu, Doha, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Lagos, Geneva, Madrid, Brussels and Amsterdam. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic he also performed interim assignments as chief of protocol and strategic adviser on external relations to several government entities and from June 2021 onwards as protocol lead for the Invictus Games The Hague in 2022.
Mark is also active as strategic adviser stakeholdermanagement at the National Committee for 4 and 5 May in Amsterdam. The National Committee helps determine how meaning is given to commemorating and celebrating and to how the memory of the Second World War is kept alive. It organises the national observance of Remembrance Day on 4 May and the Liberation Day activities on 5 May. The Netherlands marked 75 years of freedom with a multitude of additional live, virtual and hybrid events, attended by international dignitaries such as the King and Queen of Belgium, the Prince of Wales, the Governor General of Canada, the President of Poland, the Federal Chancellor of Germany and the Secretary General of NATO.
In his previous position as Head of Protocol of the City of The Hague (January 2010 - May 2018), Mark was responsible for the external relations of the city executive with a wide variety of stakeholders in the governmental, diplomatic, social, corporate and academic world. He also represented the mayor on many diplomatic occasions in order to strengthen the image of The Hague as international city of peace and justice. He was responsible for organising a multitude of major events, a.o. related to the centennial congress of the Association of Dutch Municipalities, the Royal Inauguration, Nuclear Security Summit, Global Conference on Cyber Space, Global Parliament of Mayors, working visit of Indian Prime Minister Modi, Aspen Ministers Forum led by former Secretary Albright, The Trilateral Commission, Volvo Ocean Race, World Cup Hockey, World Expo in Milan, One Young World Summits in Ottawa and Bogotá, as well as city diplomacy visits to New York, London, Prague and Brussels.
Mark has worked for the protocol departments of The Royal Hashemite Court in Jordan (2008-2009), The Royal Household of the Netherlands (2005-2007) and for the Protocolbureau in The Hague (1999-2003). In Jordan, Mark composed standard operating procedures related to the execution of Royal events and international visits and organised a wide range of public appearances of King Abdullah II, such as during the pilgrimage of Pope Benedict XVI to the Holy Land, the World Economic Forum on the Middle East at the Dead Sea, the Petra Conference of Nobel Laureates, a business forum in São Paulo, as well as a political speech at Princeton University and meetings with President Bush at the White House and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the UN Headquarters. At the Dutch Royal Household, Mark was involved in the coordination of a.o. state and official visits from Russia, Jordan, Luxembourg, Ukraine and Germany, official visits to Australia and New Zealand, two Royal weddings and two Royal christenings. At the Protocolbureau he served as senior usher during a.o. the UN Climate Change Conference 2000, the wedding of the Prince of Orange to Ms Máxima Zorreguieta, the state funeral of the Dutch Prince Consort, world horticultural expo Floriade 2002, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Award ceremony for Nelson Mandela, as well as numerous fashion shows and the ABN AMRO Tennis Tournament.
Mark studied at the Hotelschool The Hague (1999-2003), obtained his Masters’ degrees in International Relations & International Communication at Macquarie University in Sydney (2004-2005), completed the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School in Boston in 2018 and followed the college series in Public Affairs & Stakeholder Management at Nyenrode Business University near Amsterdam in 2018 as well.
Additionally, Mark was member of the advisory board of the Institute of Strategic Relationship Management in The Hague (2012-2017) and is member of the supervisory board of Holland Dance Festival (since September 2017). Mark has a strong interest in experiencing cultures, nature, modern dance, culinary discoveries, classical concerts, contemporary art, visiting family and friends, and travelling (he has visited some 75 countries).
Ambassador Csilla Würtz is a top senior executive with almost 30 years of international experience in multilateral and external relations, including with the defence sector, holistic multi-stakeholder management at leadership level, strategic planning and high-profile event organization. She has a strong experience in steering the planning and implementation of annual programmes cycles, at international level.
Ambassador Würtz was NATO’s 9th and first female Secretary of the North Atlantic Council from 2013-2018 leading a complex tri-partite portfolio, also as Director of the NATO Summit and Ministerial Task Forces, and Chief of Protocol. She conceptualized, developed and translated strategic vision into highly successful events such as the 2014 Wales Summit, the 2016 Warsaw Summit and the 2017 May 25 High-level Meeting of Heads of State and Government which is also known as Handover Summit of the New NATO Headquarters.
NATO Summits may be attended by more than 50 countries at the level of Heads of State and Government, the same number of Foreign and Defence Ministers and their delegations, well over a thousand media representatives, some 400 NGO-event participants. She led entire process lifecycles: she decided on division of labour with Host Nations integrated comprehensive NATO Summit frameworks, led the negotiations of MOUs on summit requirements and procedures for each event identifying key milestones, logistics and costs. She also headed the negotiations with Host Nations on venue production, construction, infrastructure development and build-up, security requirements, types of passes, registrations, transport, including Main Group travel, protocol, catering, conference management and equipment, as well as media build-up, media and public diplomacy requirements and media operations, facilities and procedures for some 200 bilateral meetings at summits, just to mention a few key elements of a NATO summit organization. She chaired all Summit Task Force meetings including with Host Nations.
In her capacity as Chief of Protocol, she augmented protocol service as vital support to the Secretary General, Deputy Secretary General and the Alliance as a whole, reorganized the Council Secretariat and event management at NATO HQ. She instilled confidence and credibility and oversaw the organization of several hundred official visits abroad as well as incoming guests, including Heads of State and Government, Ministers and other dignitaries.
She collaborated extensively with foreign protocol teams, including the US Presidential Teams, accompanied the King of the Belgians, the King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the King of the Netherlands and the Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, managed more than a thousand Heads of State and Government level incoming visits. She planned, coordinated and managed complex itineraries for 32 NATO Council visits across the globe e.g. Qatar, Jordan, Kuwait, Turkey, Italy, US, Ukraine and Georgia, as well as organised 25 NATO Ministerial sessions.
She was invited as Podium Speaker by the UAE MFA to present at the Third Global Chiefs of Protocol Conference in Abu Dhabi, on ‘Dealing with Crisis Situations and Crisis Moments: Lessons from Psychology, Behavioural Insights and Practitioners.’
Ambassador Würtz was the Chief of Protocol of Hungary and Director-General of the Protocol Department, including State Protocol and Diplomatic Protocol in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 2011-2012. She was a career diplomat who also served as Vice-Chairperson of the United Nations Second Committee for the Sustainable Development and Climate Change cluster during the 65th session of UNGA. She headed the organizing team for Hungarian dignitaries for 5 UN General Debates every September from 2006-2010. As a career diplomat, she held various positions from Counter-terrorism to Sanctions Coordinator, Cultural Project Manager to arms control and disarmament expert.
In 2019, she also worked as Director of Diplomatic and Business Relations and Deputy Commissioner General for Hungary’s participation at the Dubai Expo 2020. At the National Talent Center of Hungary, first as Executive Director, then as Special Representative for International Partnerships for Talent, Ambassador Würtz guided efforts in 2020-2021 to strengthen the National Talent Center's position internationally with special attention to support disadvantaged groups.
Currently she serves as Chief of Protocol, VIP Services and Special Events of the Fédération Internationale de Teqball (FITEQ). Established in March 2017, FITEQ is the governing body presiding over teqball and para teqball. With its offices based in Lausanne and Budapest, the sport has enjoyed rapid growth over the last few years as a result of increasing athlete participation, a growing fanbase and the development of strategic partnerships. FITEQ strives to achieve recognition by the global sporting community and to ultimately have teqball officially recognised as an Olympic sport.
Ambassador Würtz studied at the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna, Austria and holds an M.A. in History, English Literature and Linguistics from Szeged University. In 2018, she received the high state distinction of Grand Officer of the Order of Leopold II by His Majesty King Philippe of the Belgians for strengthening the national profile of Belgium.
Maryse Larché Mele is a protocol and inclusive leadership professional with excellent soft skills and more than 30 years of experience in the international political military arena. Adept in the fine art and science of facilitating events for people of different cultures to find common purpose, engage strategic and sensitive issues, and set parameters to make audiences feel comfortable and ensure respect.
She started her career as Executive Assistant at the Belgian Consulate in New York, where she promoted Belgian Products in the United States. She joined NATO in Naples, Italy on 1 May 1990. As deputy Chief of Protocol, at AIRSOUTH, Naples, Italy, VIP visits, ceremonies, and conferences were coordinated and conducted under her supervision. In June 2004 Maryse effectively stood up the Protocol Branch in a newly established Command Structure in Norfolk, VA and grew the manning from 4 to 11. Maryse led the Protocol Section at Supreme Allied Commander (SACT) until August 2013. During her tenure at NATO, she focused on education and training, established standard operating protocol guidelines NATO wide, highlighted cultural awareness and inclusive leadership while strengthening relationships and spearheading projects focused on outreach.
At AIRSOUTH Command she managed Distinguished Visitors Events, which included an audience with Pope John Paul for the Commander of Joint Air Forces, Balkan War, and the co-ordination of the Air Chief’s participation in the anniversary of D-Day in Normandy, France, attended by Heads of State including President George W. Bush, and numerous Southern Region Air Commanders Conferences.
As Chief of Protocol for SACT, she managed Distinguished Visitors Events, which included HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, numerous Ministers of Defense, NATO Secretary Generals, and was responsible for conferences and ceremonies. The first “Strategic Commanders Guide to NATO Protocol” was her initiative and developed under her direction with collaboration of NATO Chiefs of Protocol throughout the Alliance. Focused on education, she developed the first NATO Protocol Course instructed at the NATO School in Oberammergau, Germany.
Later on, as Executive Officer, Protocol she managed the visit of King Harald V of Norway, developed a "Cultural Awareness" programme implemented in the "newcomers" brief as staff from 26 nations rotated in and out of NATO’s international Headquarters in Norfolk, VA, USA. She partnered with the Gender Advisor to raise awareness on how to create synergy in a diverse organization while highlighting Inclusive Leadership. She hosted high-level conferences acting as moderator to guest speakers like, Dr Christine Darden from the book, “Hidden Figures”, the Dean of ODU’s Engineering school, Dr Stephanie Adams, the Director of NATO Defence College in Rome, VADM Christine Whitecross, and ACT’s Chief of Staff, VADM Paul Bennett. She also arranged a Command Symposium and Workshop featuring the 23rd Secretary of the US Air Force, Debbie Lee James. Her work in this arena resulted in the development of a diversity and inclusion cell within the HQ and highlighted the command’s establishment of a mentorship programme. She also partnered with the Virginia arts festival to highlight women in military operations as a theme for the Norfolk NATO Festival in April 2018.
As the liaison between the command and the city of Norfolk, Maryse spearheaded projects that strengthened the relationship with the city. She was recognized among “Women who stand out in business” in the Hampton Roads Business Journal in December 2018. In 2021 she was the honoured recipient of a Medal of Friendship from the Virginia Arts Festival and the City of Norfolk. Maryse received Commendations from Chief of Staff in 2021, and from Supreme Allied Commander Transformation in 2018, NATO Medals for operations in Yugoslavia from 1992-1996 and for operations in Kosovo from Nov 98-Jan 99. She speaks, English, French, Italian and Afrikaans.
For over 50 years I have been studying the field of protocol, both in the governmental and private sectors. Protocol International arose from this study and aims to serve as a cornerstone, to educate and inspire generations to come with professional protocol and etiquette. Although the roots of protocol are traditional, it is an evolving practice and we strive to adapt and grow with the clients we serve. I am convinced that anyone seeking professional advice or training in protocol can find their solutions within our services and publications.