December 23, 2015

National Institutes of Health Ombuds to Retire; Interim Successor Named

Howard Gadlin, one of the preeminent Organizational Ombuds, will retire next week.  An announcement from NIH’s principal deputy director made official what has been known to insiders for several months.  The email from Larry Tabak does a good job summarizing Gadlin's significant legacy:

Howard W. Gadlin, Ph.D., who has led the Office of the Ombudsman, Center for Cooperative Resolution at NIH, since it began permanent operations in December 1998, announced that he will retire as Ombudsman and Director, effective December 31, 2015.

During his tenure, Dr. Gadlin developed the Office of the Ombudsman as an independent, confidential, and trusted resource for scientists, managers, and all employees at NIH. Among his accomplishments are his work in Team Science, establishing a peer resolution grievance process that will be available throughout NIH in 2016, increasing customized training offerings and group endeavors among scientific and administrative leadership teams, and acting as the catalyst for the development of the CIVIL workplace violence program. Under Howard’s leadership, the Office of the Ombudsman has had an impact on and is consulted by NIH leadership. Howard is recognized for assembling and mentoring an experienced and accomplished team of ombudsmen, some of whom now lead ombuds programs for the Inter-American Development Bank, the American Red Cross, and the Asian Development Bank. His leadership has established the Office as an essential asset for ombudsmen here and abroad who are interested in learning from the NIH ombuds model.
Within the NIH scientific and administrative communities, Howard built the ombuds function into an invaluable enterprise, deftly weaving elements of inclusion, openness, and transparency with the core concepts of conflict resolution. His contributions to the research literature are widely known and cited throughout the entire Conflict Resolution community by both practitioners and scholars, and are particularly treasured here at the NIH. He has made the Office of the Ombudsman into an indispensable keystone that helps individuals constructively disagree, and that provides systemic feedback about areas of organizational concern.

After serving as a tenured faculty member in Psychology at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, MA, Howard became the Ombudsman at UMass, and later, the Ombudsman at the University of California, Los Angeles, Director of the UCLA Conflict Mediation Program, and Co-Director of the UCLA Center for the Study and Resolution of Interethnic/Interracial Conflict. Dr. Gadlin also served in leadership positions as past President of the University and College Ombuds Association and of The Ombudsman Association, and as Chair of the Coalition of Federal Ombudsmen. In addition, he chaired the Ethics Committee of the Society of Professionals in Dispute Resolution.

We certainly will miss Howard’s collegiality, creativity and candor on campus, but we know his contributions to the ombuds field and to NIH will continue to have great impact.

J. Kathleen Moore, Ph.D., currently Senior Associate Ombudsman, will become the Acting Director of the Office of the Ombudsman beginning January 1, 2016, while a national search is conducted. Dr. Moore earned a Ph.D. in Human and Organizational Psychology, and has been an ombudsman at NIH for fifteen years. Her earlier clinical experience includes serving as an EAP provider at NIH, outpatient therapist at Western State Hospital in Roanoke, VA, a Student counselor at the University of Virginia Counseling Center, and as a family therapist at the Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, Army Medical Hospital.
It is truly hard to overestimate the impact that Gadlin has had on the profession.

Related posts: Howard Gadlin.


  1. Howard Gadlin is a FORCE. His intellect and contributions to the Ombuds Association is an Oscar, a Heisman Trophy, a Tony Award, a Nobel Prize. He will continue to set the standard for excellence that we all hope to achieve for ourselves.

    Larry Cohen

    1. I could not have said it better! Howard has raised the Ombuds bar in a manner that few have been able to. My hope is, though retired, he will continue to share his incredible wealth of knowledge and wisdom through presentations and publications.