Don’t let the Orwellian-sounding job title chief of protocol fool you. The dynamic position is the de facto cultural ambassador of San Francisco, a role responsible for showcasing the best of San Francisco to visiting luminaries from around the world.
Mayor London Breed announced Wednesday that Maryam Muduroglu will serve as the new chief of protocol, to succeed the storied Charlotte Maillard Shultz, who held the role for over half a century before her death in 2021.
According to Meron Foster, who has served in the role in an interim capacity, Shultz was not the city’s first chief of protocol, but she was the longest serving and the most successful.
“I’m very honored and excited to be appointed to this position,” Muduroglu told The Standard, “and to continue the legacy left by Charlotte, her impactful work and her passion.”
Muduroglu has big shoes to fill, coming after renowned socialite and philanthropist Shultz, who served under a total of 10 mayors. Shultz died of cancer last November and was honored with a memorial service at Grace Cathedral. Married three times, Shultz’s last husband was the former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz.
“To be intimidated would be the right feeling, given all she has accomplished in the city,” Muduroglu said of her predecessor. “It makes me even more grateful to showcase our magical city to the international world.”
A native San Franciscan, Muduroglu worked in health-care information technology for a decade before serving on boards for various organizations such as the Center for Youth Wellness, the San Francisco Opera, Children of Shelters and the Bay School of San Francisco.
Muduroglu believes this work as well as her diplomatic background—her mother served as part of the consular corps of the Iranian Embassy—prepared her well for this position.
The job duties for chief of protocol include welcoming visiting leaders, artists, business delegations and scholars from around the world to San Francisco. Muduroglu will also advance the foreign policy goals of San Francisco in her position, engaging in diplomacy to promote the city.
When asked about the potential challenges of serving as a diplomatic liaison for a frequently criticized city, Muduroglu acknowledged that “perception is a concern—and it’s very important for me to change.”
Muduroglu is proficient in four languages—English, French, Spanish and Farsi—and her multicultural background is an advantage for this role, according to Tom Horn, president of the War Memorial and honorary consul of Monaco.
The chief of protocol is an unpaid, appointed position that can change at the discretion of the mayor.
“I’m grateful for the mayor’s trust,” Muduroglu said, “and I’m honored to represent our city.”
Julie Zigoris can be reached at [email protected]