May 29, 2020

Save the Date for Ombuds Day 2020

The third annual Ombuds Day will be October 8, 2020. The event seeks improve public awareness of Ombuds, connect Ombuds in their respective communities, and celebrate their important professional work. The theme is once again, "Ombuds: Unusual Name, Important Service." Updates are available from the ABA Ombuds Committee. (LinkedIn; Twitter; Facebook.) 

American Philosophical Association Names Ombuds for 2020-2023

The professional organization for philosophers in the U.S. has appointed Adam Omar Hosein as its next Ombudsperson. He takes over from Laurie Shrage, who just completed a three-year term (and who also established the position in 2008). The APA Ombudsperson serves as a resource for discrimination complaints from the association's 9,500 members. 

May 28, 2020

Pandemic Slows Hiring of First Ombuds at Northwestern University

Coalition NU, an ad hoc group of "underrepresented and underserved graduate students demanding justice," reports that the private university has paused its search for an Ombuds. The report is based on statements made by the interim Provost at a town hall meeting earlier today. 

IOA Past-President and Halliburton Ombuds Moves On

Anamaris Cousins-Price, who served as the President of the IOA Board of Directors in 2014-15, has announced that she is stepping down from her position as Corporate Ombudsman for Halliburton. Cousins-Price had been the Latin American Regional Ombudsman for the oil industry multinational for over 16 years. In addition, she had been a prominent speaker and advocate for the Organizational Ombuds profession. 

May 22, 2020

Job Posting: UN Funds and Programmes, Thailand

The United Nations' global development network has opened a search for an Ombudsman Specialist based in Bangkok. The position reports to the Office of the Ombudsman for UN Funds and Programmes and provides conflict managment services to staff members and non-staff personnel of the UN Funds and Programmes (including UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNOPS and UN Women). Frequenttravel to field offices in Asia is required. The appointment is for one year and may be extended.

University of Texas Austin Opens Internal Search for Next Faculty Ombuds

UT Austin is seeking applications and nominations for its next University Faculty Ombudsperson. The search will fill a position held by Mary Steinhardt, since 2008. As the Faculty Ombuds, she operated independently from the Student Ombuds office. p;In October 2018, Steinhard, a Professor of Kinesiology and Health Education, received a $3.3 million NIH grant to continue her research on diabetes.

JIOA: Book Review of Virtue at Work

The latest article in the Journal of the International Ombudsman Association is a review of book relevant to Ombuds practice, Virtue at Work: Ethics for Individuals, Managers, and Organizations, by Geoff Moore. The reviewer, Elizabet Wendt, is a graduate of the University of Washington and currently works on issues of charter school compliance at Oakland Unified School District (which has a Classical Ombuds Office).

May 21, 2020

Title IX Director to Serve as First Ombuds for West Contra Costa Unified School District

The school district based in Richmond, California has designated Rhonda Haney as its first Ombudsperson. In this new role, she will serve as "an independent and confidential resource, assisting parents and community members in addressing complaints, conflicts, and other school-related issues." On the other hand, the Ombuds Office also "is responsible for the intake and monitoring of all formal District complaints." In addition to the Ombuds role, Haney serves as WCCUSD's Director of the Office of Educational Equity and Title IX. (WCCUSD Ombuds.)

IOA Opens Access to Blog

Since 2006, the International Ombudsman Association has produced a newsletter for its members: The Independent Voice. Initially a quarterly physical newsletter, it became a blog in 2007. This week, IOA has moved it from the members-only area of the website and made it public. "The Independent Voice" is currently edited by Jennifer S. Schneider, Student Ombuds at the University of South Florida, and Bryan J. Hanson, Ombudsperson for the Graduate School at Virginia Tech.

May 19, 2020

Job Posting: Department of the Interior

The Department of the Interior's Office of Collaborative Action and Dispute Resolution (CADR) is hiring a full-time Conflict Management Specialist based in Arlington, Virginia. The position will promote and provide expert assistance and support for all DOI bureaus and offices to increase and improve the use of collaborative decision-making and ADR processes (work that includes Ombuds services). Some travel is required (1-5 nights per month) and the position is also eligible for telework.

May 18, 2020

Job Posting: California Lutheran University

Cal Lutheran, a private liberal arts university in Thousand Oaks, California, has issued a request for proposals for Organizational Ombuds services. The university established an Ombuds program early last year with the appointment of Helena Goto and Alice Sarfati as Ombuds for its 445 staff members. The RFP indicates that the Ombuds program will now expand to 450 faculty and 4,300 students. 

West Texas A&M Names New Ombuds

Gary L. Byrd has been appointed the next Faculty Ombuds for the public university in Canyon, Texas. He succeeds Harry R. Hueston, who established the position in 2013. Byrd is a Professor of Psychology and has been a WTAMU faculty since 1975.

May 15, 2020

New Labor Agreement Will Create Staff Ombuds Positions at Leading Dutch Universities

The week, the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (Vereniging van Universiteiten which was originally called Vereniging van Samenwerkende Nederlandse Universiteiten "VSNU") reached an agreement with four employee organizations. A significant concession was the appointment of Ombuds for Staff at all member institutions starting July 2021. Currently, Just half of  VSNU members have Ombuds for Staff. 

Study Finds Ombuds are 'What Works' for Diversity and Inclusion

A new study published by the Center for Employment Equity at the University of Massachusetts Amherst aims to answer the question: What steps to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion are actually working. Sociologists David Pedulla (Stanford) and Devah Pager (Harvard) convened leading experts on bias, technology, discrimination, and organizational design. From this research, they found five key insights that can serve as tools for making their workplaces more diverse and thriving: 

May 12, 2020

Connecticut College Hires Dedicated Ombuds for Staff

Amy Sereday has been selected as the first Staff Ombudsperson for the private liberal arts college in New London. Sereday joins David Dorfman, Professor of Dance, and Christine Chung, Associate Professor of Computer Science, who serve as part-time Faculty Ombudspersons for three-year appointments. Sereday will available year-round for all employees, faculty and staff.

Podcast Features Contract Ombuds

Last week, Jennifer Crittenden interviewed a contract Ombuds for her podcast, Dear Discrete Guide. Her guest, Selina Shultz, owns a consulting practice, the Conflict Lab, that provides a range of dispute resolution and organizational services. The podcast is available free from Podomatic.


May 11, 2020

University of Utah Health Sciences Appoints Next Two Ombuds

The academic health care system based in Salt Lake City has named Casi A. Morales and Joan Sheetz as its next Ombudsmen. Together, they serve more than 14,000 faculty and staff, and take on Ombuds duties part-time. They succeed Jim Ruble and Michael Cohen, who established the program five years ago. (University of Utah Health Ombuds.)

Webinar to Introduce New Ombuds for Federal Contractors

On May 20, 2020, JD Supra (a publisher of legal content) will host an online meet and greet with the new Ombudsman for the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, Marcus Stergio. The event is free and takes place at 2:00 pm Eastern. 

Comics Studies Society Names First Ombuds

Andrew Kunka has been appointed the first Ombudsperson for CSS, the professional association for the critical study of comics. Duties for the position have not been made public, but the Society is following the recent trend by appointing an Ombuds to help address historic gender bias. As the Ombuds, Kunka is a member of the CSS executive board; he also is a member of the Code of Conduct Committee. Kunka is a Professor of English at the University of South Carolina Sumter. (CSS Board; USC Bio.)

May 08, 2020

Job Posting: University of North Carolina

UNC Chapel Hill has opened a search for an Associate Ombuds. The position is part of an office that provides Ombuds services to more than 40,000 students, staff, faculty, and administrators. The position reports to the University Ombuds, Dawn Osborne-Adams.

Winthrop University Appoints First Ombuds

Earlier this year, Jackie Concodora was selected as the first Ombudsperson for the public liberal arts university in Rock Hill, South Carolina. In the new part-time position, Concodora will serve 850 faculty and staff, practicing to IOA standards for an initial three-year term. She takes on the Ombuds role and continues as Winthrop's Director of Health and Counseling Services.

May 07, 2020

Work of American University Ombuds Largely Intact After Title IX Rule Changes

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Education issued long-awaited changes to its Title IX rules, which will give new of protections to people accused of sexual assault on college campuses. The Departments new rules, which go into effect on August 14, were laid out in a 2,000 page memo. The rules explicitly address the role of Ombuds in higher education, prompted in part by public comments from the International Ombudsman Association and others in the Ombuds field. (Title IX only applies to schools that receive federal funds, so the new rules have no impact on Ombuds working in other sectors or jursidictions.) 

McGill University Selects Next Ombuds

Last week, Patricia Faison Hewlin began a five-year mandate as the Ombudsperson for Students. In the half-time appointment, she will head a office that serves over 40,000 students and handles about 200 cases a year. She succeeds Dimitrios Berk and joins Carmela Parzanese, the Assistant to the Ombudsperson. 

May 05, 2020

ENOHE Publishes Proceedings of 2019 Conference in Spain

In June 2019, the European Network of Ombuds in Higher Education and the University of León, Spain, held a joint conference.  The proceedings from the event, "Defending and Protecting Rights within Higher Education: Stocktaking, Looking Ahead“ are now available online.

May 04, 2020

Dutch Association of Higher Education Ombudsmen Creates Website

The Association of Higher Education Ombudsmen (Vereniging Ombudsmannen in het Hoger Onderwijs, "VOHO") comprises two dozen Ombuds at colleges and universities across the Netherlands. The association was formed officially in 2019, but originated in 2001 as the National Consultation Ombudsmen in Higher Education (Landelijk Overleg Ombudsmannen in het Hoger Onderwijs). The new website provides a history, news items, articles, and other information. Previously, VOHO's web page had been hosted by the European Network of Ombuds in Higher Education.

May 01, 2020

MacEwan University Suddenly Closes Ombuds Office

According to multiple Twitter accounts, the public undergraduate university in Edmonton, Alberta, shuttered its Ombuds office on April 30. Cathryn Heslep served as the Student Ombudsperson, serving a population of about 20,000, since establishing the role in May 2016. She had worked at the school in a variety of positions for over three decades. MacEwan has not yet made an official announcement, but has been eliminating positions due to a budget crisis that predated the pandemic. (Twitter @MinnieSherret95, @almcm_; Edmonton Journal.)

IOA Online Community Forums Launch Next Week

The International Ombudsman Association Board of Directors will begin offering a series of online "Community Connections" next week. These will be similar to sector forums that are part of the IOA annual conference, which was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Community Connections will continue through the summer. 

Haverford College Ombuds Works to Improve Name Recognition

Steve Watter, who became the first Ombuds for the private liberal arts college in Pennsylvania last year, was profiled in a recent article for the campus newspaper. He admits that, despite a successful first year, the office continues to struggle with name recognition. “Has it caught on to the extent that I had hoped? I guess the answer is not quite,” said Watter. But, he added, “I think we’re getting there.” His efforts are complicated now as he is now working remotely. (Haverford Clerk.)

April 29, 2020

Greater Chicago Midwest HERC Webinar: Diversity and the Ombuds

Tomorrow, April 30, 2020, the Greater Chicago Midwest Higher Education Recruitment Consortium will present a webinar on, "Diversity and Inclusion, Retention and the Role of the Ombudsperson." The webinar is free and runs from 9:30-11:00 am CDT. The panelists are: Celina Flowers, the Assistant Provost for Faculty at Northwestern University; Craig Mousin, the University Ombudsperson at DePaul; Michelé E. Smith Associate Provost for Curriculum at Harper College; and Claudia Mercado, the Interim Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Harper College. 

April 28, 2020

International Ombudsman Institute Defers Annual Conference to 2021

IOI, the global organization of nearly 200 independent Ombudsman institutions, will postpone its 12th annual conference for one year due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Originally set for May 17-22, 2020, the 12th General Assembly and World Conference will now take place from May 23-28, 2021 at the original conference venue in Dublin, Ireland. (IOI News.)

April 27, 2020

IOA Board Chair Offers Encouragement During Pandemic

Melanie Jagneaux, who became the President of the International Ombudsman Association Board of Directors earlier this month, posted a video on Friday night to her personal YouTube account. The short video recapped the effects of the cornonavirus on the Ombuds profession and IOA. She said that IOA leaders are creating new resources and methods to support the association's members.

ABA Section of Dispute Resolution Moves 2020 Spring Conference Online

The American Bar Association Section on Dispute Resolution has rescheduled its 22nd Annual Spring Conference which had been calendared for last week (April 22-25, 2020). The event will now be held online on May 18-22. Organizers have trimmed the number of presentations and costs. It is not clear yet whether any sessions will involve Ombuds.

April 24, 2020

Job Posting: U.S. Department of Agriculture

The USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is hiring an Program Specialist Ombudsman based in Maryland. The position works with employees with issues are related to Plant Protection and Quarantine personnel policies significance and practices to IOA standards. APHIS is an emergency response agency and occasional travel may be required.

April 23, 2020

Carleton University Selects Next Ombuds

Melanie Chapman has been named as the new Ombudsperson for the large public university in Ottawa, Ontario. She comes to the position after 14 years in the Office of the Ombudsman for the Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces. Previously, she had worked in conflict resolution at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. She starts on May 19, 2020 and succeeds Jim Kennelly, who retired earlier this year after over four decades in the position.

FCO/Osgoode Ombuds Certificate Program Returns in Fall 2020

The certificate program, "Essentials for Ombuds," by the Forum of Canadian Ombudsman and Osgoode Professional Development continues for its eighth year. Taught by distinguished Ombuds, lawyers, and academics from across Canada, the training is offered twice a year in Toronto. This fall, the in-person course is planned for September 28 through October 2, 2020.

April 22, 2020

Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs Publishes Ombuds Service Protocols

This week the OFCCP published protocols that formalize and clarify the role of the agency's new Ombudsman, Marcus Stergio, who was appointed in August 2019. The protocols make it clear that the Ombuds office will practice to IOA standards, and not become another OFCCP enforcement mechanism. (The office ensures that Federal contractors comply with the nondiscrimination laws and regulations has requiring nondiscrimination.)

Catalyst Webinar to Focus on Ombuds as Supportive Resource for Women

On May 7, 2020, Catalyst will offer a one-hour webinar on "How Ombuds Programs Empower Women and Support Inclusion in the Workforce." Speakers will include: Lee Jourdan, Chief Diversity Officer, Chevron; Sana Manjeshwar, Global Ombuds Manager, Chevron; Sue Diviney, Global Ombuds Manager, Pfizer; and Charles Howard, Executive Director, International Ombudsman Association. Catalyst is a nonprofit organization that involves CEO's and leading companies to improve workplaces for women.

April 21, 2020

Job Re-Posting: University of California San Francisco

Despite the recent announcement of a hiring freeze, UC San Francisco is continuing the search for its next Ombuds Office Director.  The decision to extend the application deadline recognizes the essential services provided by the Ombuds program to the academic medical center. The position (55218BR) is posted at jobs.ucsf.edu. See more at the original job posting. (BrassRing.)

Urban Institute White Paper Endorses Ombuds to Address STEM Harassment

A new report by the Urban Institute recommends Ombuds programs as an effective resource: "Promising Practices for Addressing Harassment in the STEM Workplace." The white paper comes out of a conference organized by the American Geophysical Union, in partnership with the Urban Institute and the National Women’s Law Center, that featured a range of organizational experts including IOA Board Director Jessica Kuchta-Miller (Ombuds at Washington University in St. Louis) and Executive Director Chuck Howard

April 20, 2020

Train at Home with IOA Webinars

The International Ombudsman Association will host five online training sessions between May and November 2020. IOA webinars offer the latest information on a range of topics relevant to Ombuds without the need to travel. The hour and a half webinars provide CO-OP credit and are free for IOA members (just $195 for non-members). 

Here are the details.

April 17, 2020

Job Posting: National Institutes of Health

The NIH is seeking applications for its next Director of the Center for Cooperative Resolution/Office of the Ombudsman. The position leads an office that serves the world’s largest biomedical research funding organization, comprising 27 institutes and centers, with about 18,000 employees. Julie Muroff has been serving as the Acting NIH Ombudsman and Director of CCR since the retirement of J. Kathleen Moore last fall.

Job Posting: WSIB Fair Practices Commission, Ontario

The Fair Practices Commission of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board in Ontario, Canada is hiring its next Commissioner. The position will head an office that serves as the Organizational Ombudsman injured workers, employers and service providers with complaints the WSIB. Anna Martins has served as the Commissioner since 2016. The position is based in Toronto and reports to the Board of Directors through the Chair of the WSIB.

April 16, 2020

Westminster College Appoints First Ombuds

L. Reuben Mitchell has been named the first Campus Ombuds for the private liberal arts college in Salt Lake City, Utah. He serves about 500 faculty and staff, and provides the service remotely. Mitchell also currently serves as the Ombuds at Scripps Research Institute outside San Diego, California.

April 15, 2020

Harvard Business Review Issue on Sexual Harassment Spotlights Ombuds Programs

The latest issue of HBR focuses on efforts by organizations to combat sexual harassment. Organizational Ombuds are mentioned in two articles: "Why Sexual Harassment Programs Backfire," which recommends Ombuds are the first of several alternate complaint systems for organizations; and "What Happens When an Employee Calls the Ombudsman?" by Charles Howard.

USOA Cancels Annual Conference Set for September 2020

The United States Ombudsman Association has decided to cancel its 41st Annual Conference set for September 16-18, 202- in Helena, Montana. Kristie Hirschman, USOA's Director of Conferences and Training said that the association is looking at some virtual alternatives and offered words of encouragement for Ombuds.

Here is the full announcement posted to the USOA website earlier this week:

April 14, 2020

Camosun College Students Approve Fee Referendum for Ombuds

Students at the community college in Greater Victoria, BC have approved a referendum raising a fee levy by $1 a month for the Ombudsperson position. Rob Thompson was appointed to the full-time Ombuds position earlier this spring. The Ombuds is funded jointly by the Camosun College Student Society and the college. (Camosun Nexus.)

April 13, 2020

University of Alabama at Birmingham Names First Full-Time University Ombuds

Today, Alicia Booker became the first full-time University Ombudsperson for UAB faculty and staff, mentored graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows. For the past two years, she has been the Associate Ombuds at the University of Cincinnati. She joins J. Michael Wyss, UAB's part-time Faculty Ombuds.

April 10, 2020

Salmon River Central School District Selects Next Ombuds

Breanne Herne has been named the Ombudsman for the school district in northern New York State. She succeeds Kim Russell, who retired in December after a decade in the position. Herne grew up on the Akwesasne  Reservation and graduated from the Salmon River schools. For the past eight years she has worked for the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, in the Division of Social Services, Preventive Foster Care Caseworker and then in Child Protective Services. She earned her Bachelors and Masters degree at SUNY Potsdam. (Salmon River News.)

Seattle Unveils Ombuds Program for City Employees

The City of Seattle has officially opened its new ;Office of the Employee Ombud. The confidential, informal and independent resource serves all current city employees (but not former employees, job applicants, retirees, or the general public) following IOA standards. Amarah Y. Khan is the Director and Emma Phan is the Assistant Ombud.