August 30, 2018

Frederick County Public Schools to Appoint First Ombuds

The Board of Education for the public school system in Maryland has approved funding for an Ombuds position, starting in 2019. According to a local new report, the FCPS Ombuds "will be a neutral and impartial party working to address the concerns of students, families, parents, employees and county residents," but will not participate in formal investigations. The board approved an annual budget of $115,000, which will cover start up costs (about $3,000), salary, and fringe benefits.

August 29, 2018

U.S. Student Loan Ombuds Quits in Disgust

This week, Seth Frotman, the Student Loan Ombudsman for the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau resigned his post. In a letter copied to two cabinet members and several members of Congress, Frotman scorched the Acting Director, Mick Mulvaney, saying that “the Bureau has abandoned the very consumers it is tasked by Congress with protecting” and instead now serve the wishes of powerful financial companies. 

Wesley Smith: Former Ombuds at University of Pennsylvania

Wesley D. Smith, emeritus classical studies professor at Penn, died in June at the age of 88. He joined the faculty in 1961 and retired in 1996. In 1986, he was appointed University Ombudsman in 1986. (UPenn Almanac.)

August 28, 2018

Job Posting: Colorado State University

The public land-grant university in Ft. Collins is hiring an Assistant Director of Conflict Resolution. The position has many Ombuds functions and seems to replace the Ombuds program that had headed by Lanai Greenhalgh earlier this year. Job duties include: conflict management for student issues (40% time); facilitation and education for all campus stakeholders (20%); restorative justice for student issues (20%); collaboration with other campus entities (10%); and administrative functions (10%).

August 27, 2018

Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District Names First Ombuds

The public school system in North Carolina has appointed Earnest Winston as its first Ombudsman. The move comes after the local teachers' union demanded an Ombuds as an option for teachers feeling bullied at work. Winston will serve parents, community members and employees with concerns coming out of 159 schools.

IOA Issues RFP for Public Relations Services

The International Ombudsman Association is soliciting bids from PR consultants to develop communications strategy. The move comes in the wake of the unexpected loss of IOA's management company, which has provided PR services as part of its overall agreement. According to the RFP, IOA seeks to have the new PR plan in place by the end of the year. 

August 24, 2018

IOA Seeks Bids for Intermediate-Level Course on Communication Skills

The Professional Development Committee of the International Ombudsman Association is currently seeking an individual(s) to develop a replicable core course for Ombuds professionals. The selected course will then be presented as part of the pre-conference training in March 2019.

Make Plans for the First Ombuds Day

The American Bar Association Dispute Resolution Section Ombuds Committee has designated the second Thursday of October as Ombuds Day to coincide with Conflict Resolution Month and Mediation Week.

August 21, 2018

Cal Caucus Announces Agenda, Opens Registration for 45th Meeting

The California Caucus of College and University Ombuds has posted the lineup for its the 45th annual gathering, which has the theme: "Honoring Our Past to Engage with Our Future." The event will be held at the Asilomar Conference Center in Pacific Grove, California, November 4-7, 2018. The caucus attracts Ombuds from beyond California and the higher education sector with its inclusive, casual, and intimate tradition. 

August 20, 2018

International Ombudsman Association Seeks Presenters for 2019 Conference in New Orleans

IOA Conference Committee presentation proposals, speaker, and topic suggestions for its 14th annual conference on the theme of “Ombuds: Providing Calm in a Conflicted World.” The conference is set for April 1-3, 2019 at the Sheraton Hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana. 

Job Posting: Safer Care Victoria

The Department of Health and Human Services agency that oversees and supports health services is hiring an Independent Facilitator -- its first Organizational Ombuds. Based in Melbourne, the position is an "independent, neutral and confidential resource for employees of designated Victorian health services, providing informal assistance and support to employees regarding workplace issues, concerns or complaints." The job practices to IOA standards. 

New Ombuds Blogger: Chris LaHatte

Earlier this year, Chris LaHatte launched a blog to offer his insights on alternative dispute resolution. LaHatte is currently the ICANN Ombudsman and lives in New Zealand. His latest post delves into the #metoo movement. He observes that the current discussion lacks consideration of: 1. an independent resource for complainants; and 2. restorative justice as an important remedy. He asserts that Organizational Ombuds programs would fill these needs.

August 17, 2018

Job Posting: Kaiser Permanente San Francisco

KP Northern California is hiring a full-time Health Care Ombuds/Mediator for its medical facilities in San Francisco.  The Kaiser HCOM, "functions as a trained alternative dispute professional offering patients, family members, staff & providers a conflict management program to resolve patient/provider healthcare disputes early thereby improving patient safety & reducing the costs of health care dispute resolution."

Internship: United Nations, New York

The Office of the UN Ombudsman and Mediation Services is accepting applications for an unpaid internship in its New York headquarters. The temporary position is full-time and will last six months. Duties will depend on the intern's experience and needs of the program, but may include: outreach and advocacy; support preparing data and reports; and conducting research.

August 16, 2018

American Lawyer Magazine: Law Firms Need Ombuds for Sexual Harassment Problem

The monthly law magazine published a commentary by Gwen Mellor, "Law Firms Need Informal Reporting Programs to Quash Sexual Harassment." The piece outlines steps firm leaders can take to improve reporting and resolving misconduct. Mellor urged firms to create an Ombuds that complies with IOA standards.

Stockton University Opens Ombuds Office

The public university near Atlantic City, New Jersey has named Rahmaan Simpkins as its first Ombuds Officer. He practices to IOA standards and serves faculty, staff, and 9,000 students. He was appointed Interim Assistant Vice President for Organizational Effectiveness & Ombuds Officer in February 2018. 

August 15, 2018

Job Posting: World Health Organization

The UN agency that focuses on international public health is hiring a Regional Ombudsman for the Pan American Health Organization. The 80% time position will be based in Washington, DC, for a two-year, renewable contract. Dolores Gómez-Morán has held the post for the past four years.

Job Posting: Transportation Security Administration

The TSA's Ombudsman Division (part of the Civil Liberties, Ombudsman and Traveler Engagement Office) is hiring an Ombudsman Specialist. The position serves internal and external stakeholders and about 25% travel is required. The position is open to current and former permanent Federal employees and veterans.

August 14, 2018

Meharry Medical College Taps Chaplain to Serve as First Ombuds

The Methodist-affiliated, medical school in Nashville has named Robin Kimbrough its first Ombudsman. She will practice to IOA standards The full-time position will work with Meharry's 700 students, plus staff, faculty, and administrators. She has served as the Chaplain and Special Assistant to the President for United Methodist Affairs since at least 2012.

August 13, 2018

Job Posting: Federal Emergency Management Agency

FEMA's Alternative Dispute Resolution Division is re-posting its third Ombuds position because "the previously selected applicant accepted another position." The position provides professional conflict prevention and resolution services to FEMA employees during disaster operations. The job is not yet posted online. Here is the announcement from the Deputy Director for ADR:

August 09, 2018

Job Posting: International Committee of the Red Cross

The ICRC is hiring a Regional Ombuds for the Middle East and North Africa Region.  The full-time, three-year position requires significant travel and reports to the ICRC Ombuds, John W. Zinsser, in Geneva. 

Job Posting: Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts

The federal court system has responded quickly to a directive by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts' to address sexual harassment. The newly-created position of Judicial Integrity Officer is very much like an Ombuds. (The Senate Judiciary Committee did hear testimony promoting an Ombuds for this role.) According to the job description, the JIO will oversee the national Office of Judicial Integrity:

Article in New Mexico Lawyer Outlines Ombuds Field

The current issue of the New Mexico Lawyer focuses on ADR. The lead article, "Classical, Advocate, and Organizational: An Overview of Ombuds from Scandinavian Origins to the Governments, Corporations, and Universities of America," is by Jon Lee, CO-OP, the Ombuds Facilitator at the University of New Mexico. The succinct article provides a balanced review of the history and current state of the Ombuds field. The magazine is provided to all 7,400 members of the New Mexico State Bar.  (NM Lawyer.)

August 07, 2018

Job Posting: University for Peace

The United Nations affiliated university in Costa Rica is hiring its first Ombudsperson for a one-year contract. The position reports to the Office of the Rector and provides a range of services to students and staff, including: Receiving and acting on complaints; Facilitating or mediating; Seting up panels for investigating complaints; Providing legal and procedural guidance to panels and disputants; Providing recommendations to the Rector; Conducting trainings; Supporting development of an online training module; and Providing an annual report. Clearly, some responsibilities are not in sync with typical practices of university Ombuds or the UN Ombuds program.

British MPs Say Aid Organizations Need Ombuds to Respond to Sexual Misconduct Issues

The British House of Commons International Development Committee says that international aid agencies have utterly failed to respond to sex offenses by charity workers and peacekeepers. In a report published July 31, the select committee called on aid agencies to appoint independent Ombudsmen, “to provide an avenue through which victims and survivors can appeal for justice and recompense, if they are unable to find this through the established channels.” 

August 06, 2018

State Bar of Texas Unveils Ombuds Program

The administrative agency of the Texas Supreme Court has appointed Stephanie A. Lowe as its first Ombudsman for Attorney Discipline. Lowe serves as: 1. A source of information for the public; and 2. A monitor of the attorney discipline system. Her role is characterized by neutrality, independence, and confidentiality. 

August 03, 2018

Job Posting: Kentucky State University

The public university in Frankfort is hiring a Student Ombudsman. This will be the second person in the role; Danon Holmes established the office in 2015. The position reports to the university president and serves a student population of about 2,200. In addition to typical Ombuds duties, the job also coordinates all daily campus visits and special visit days. 

August 02, 2018

Botany 2018 Featured an Ombuds for Attendees

The annual, international meeting of botanists, held this year June 24-28 in Fort Worth, Texas, offered an Ombudsman for the first time. Sherry Marts served as the Ombuds and was available as an independent and confidential resource for any attendee with concerns about violations of the Botany Conference Code of Conduct. The newly adopted conduct code prohibits a range of unacceptable behavior including offensive speech and unwanted attention.

August 01, 2018

The Scripps Research Institute Creates Ombuds Program

The bio-medical research facility based in San Diego, California has named L. Reuben Mitchell as its first Ombuds. A website for the TSRI Ombuds Office went up this week, but Mitchell's LinkedIn profile indicates that he's held the position since October 2017. As Ombuds, Mitchell works with 2,400 scientists, technicians, graduate students, administrators, and other staff, at 250 labs. He practices to typical Organizational Ombuds standards and reports to the EVP for Research and Academic Affairs. 

Job Posting: Amherst College

The private, liberal arts college in Massachusetts is hiring an Ombudsperson. The part-time (12 hours/week) position reports to the President and works with faculty and staff.  Applicants must have a Bachelor's degree and prior experience, preferably in academia. No salary or deadline indicated.  (Indeed.)