December 30, 2021

2021 Year in Review: Responding to Challenges

In 2021, a persistent pandemic and urgent social issues exerted significant pressures on Ombuds individually, on the organizations where they worked, their professional associations. On a personal level, there were undoubtable many small acts of courage that went largely unnoticed. There were, however, several notable and more public responses to these challenges that reflect positively on the Ombuds field.

December 28, 2021

2021 Year in Review: Transitions

This annual summary of the most important stories about Organizational Ombuds news comes in three parts. It starts with a review of people who retired and passed away, and a recap of new and closed programs. Two more posts will follow before the end of the year.

Job Posting: United Nations, Thailand

The United Nations Ombudsman and Mediation Services ("UNOMS") is hiring a Regional Ombudsman for its office in Bangkok. Susan John has held the position for nearly two decades. The position will provide informal conflict resolution services to UN regional staff and report to the UN Ombudsman Shireen L. Dodson through the UNOMS Chief of Staff. Travel is required.

Former University of Arizona Ombuds Lands at FEMA

Caitlan Hendrickson, who served as Director of the UA Office of the Ombuds from 2015 to March 2021, has joined the Federal Emergency Management Agency as a full-time Ombuds. The University of Arizona closed its Ombuds office earlier this year along with several other diversity-related programs in the wake of Covid-budget problems. She also served as the first Conference Ombuds for the American Literary Translators Association this past fall. At FEMA, Hendrickson will "serve as Ombuds for all FEMA Stafford Act employees in all ... U.S. states and territories." (LinkedIn.)

December 27, 2021

Job Posting: Scotiabank

The Canadian multinational banking and financial services company is hiring a Manager for its Staff Ombuds Office. Based in Toronto, the position "provides an independent, confidential, impartial, off-the-record resource for Scotiabank employees and retirees globally who are experiencing workplace issues or concerns." Maria Clara Jimenez has held the position since 2010.

Gretchen Rubin Interviews Ombuds Author

Earlier this year, Vikram Kapoor published his (first) book, First Serve Yourself: How Young Leaders Around The World Are Winning On Their Own Terms, which draws extensively on his experience as an Ombuds. Last week, Kapoor was interviewed by Gretchen Rubin, author of the best-selling, The Happiness Project. Kapoor talked about about happiness, habits, and coaching.

Northeastern Illinois University Ombuds Returns to NIH

Tyler Smith, who has been the NEIU University Ombuds since 2019 is returning to the National Institutes of Health, Center for Cooperative Resolution/Office of the Ombudsman. In addition to his work at NEIU, Smith also served as the Ombuds for the Midwest Political Science Association in 2021. His return to the NIH office is separate from the pending search for a Scientific Dispute Specialist.

December 23, 2021

Radboud University Appoints First Ombuds

Radboud Universiteit, the public research university in Nijmegen, Netherlands has selected Nancy Viellevoye as its first Ombudsperson. The new role was initiated by an agreement between the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (Vereniging van Universiteiten) and four employee organizations in May 2020. Accordingly, Viellevoye will serve over 3,000 university employees. 

December 21, 2021

Second Book by Chuck Howard Explores the 'Hows and Whys' of Ombuds Work

The American Bar Association has announced the publication of A Practical Guide to Organizational Ombuds: How They Help People and Organizations by Charles Howard. In 2010, Howard wrote the first comprehensive legal guide about Organizational Ombuds. That book, The Organizational Ombudsman: Origins, Roles and Operations-A Legal Guide, immediately became a critical resource for practitioners and those who interact with them, especially in-house counsel and other attorneys. At the time, Howard was an attorney with long list of Ombuds clients. Since then, he transitioned from law practice to become the International Ombudsman Association's first Executive Director, where he continued his advocacy for the profession. News of the publication comes just before Howard will retire from his position with IOA.

Job Posting: Louisiana State University

The public university in Baton Rouge will expand its Ombuds Office with the hiring of its first Associate Ombudsperson. The position will report to the LSU Ombudsperson, Retha Niedecken, CO-OP, and provide services to faculty, staff, students, and other members of the campus community following IOA standards.

December 20, 2021

Leading Ombuds to Head New Program at Pinterest

Donna Douglass Williams, CO-OP, has been selected as the Head of Ombuds for Pinterest. She brings over two decade of Ombuds experience to the international social media company, most recently as the Ombudsperson for the University of Connecticut health system. As the Pinterest Ombuds, Douglass Williams will be an integral part of a plan to reform the company's workplace culture. She will would serve over 2,500 employees who work in offices around the world. Although details are still pending, it is expected that the Pinterest Ombuds program will follow IOA standards.

December 17, 2021

Job Posting: National Institutes of Health

The NIH Center for Cooperative Resolution/Office of the Ombudsman is hiring a Scientific Dispute Specialist. The full-time position "provides highly confidential, impartial, independent and informal resource to help all individuals working at NIH - including scientists, management, executives, and research fellows, trainees, and trades professionals - to prevent, address and resolve work and science-related conflict." The position is based in Montgomery County, Maryland and is eligible for telework. Some travel may be required.

Job Posting/Internship: Federal Deposit Insurance Corp

The FDIC Office of the Internal Ombudsman is seeking one or more Student Trainees. Based in Washington, DC, the position requires at least 24 hours per week during the academic year and full time during summer/holiday breaks. (The FDIC also has a separate external Ombuds program.) Some travel is required and telework may be allowed.

December 15, 2021

Job Posting: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

The large public school system in North Carolina is hiring its next Ombudsman Office Director. The search will fill a full-time, year-round position recently vacated by Jerri Haigler after two years in the position. The CMS Ombuds serves families, staff members, students, and community members, following IOA standards. CMS enrolls 147,000 students and is the 18th largest school system in the country.

Hood College Names Next Ombuds

Lisa Littlefield has been appointed the Ombudsperson for the private liberal arts college in Frederick, Maryland. She takes on the new duties and continues as Hood's Dean of Career Development and Experiential Education. The website for the office also has been updated to indicate compliance with IOA standards (although Title IX are not confidential).

McMaster University Selects Assistant Ombuds

Abigail Candelora is the new Assistant Ombuds for McMaster in Hamilton, Ontario. She joins University Ombuds Carolyn Brendon and will work with 43,000 students, faculty, and staff members. Candelora recently graduated from Concordia University. (LinkedIn.)

December 14, 2021

Job Posting: United Nations, New York

The Office of the United Nations Ombudsman and Mediation Services is seeking a Conflict Resolution Officer for its New York headquarters. The position will report directly to the Senior Conflict Resolution Officer, Lara Khalife Dagher, under the general supervision of the Chief of Office.

Sherbrooke University Welcomes New Ombuds

Université de Sherbrooke in Quebec has hired Marie-Claude Laquerre as its next Student Ombudsman. She will follow Soucila Badaroudine, who retired after serving in the role for 15 years. Laquerre will serve a student population of about 40,000 and report to the Secretary General for Administration under the authority of the University's board of directors. She is assisted by the Deputy Ombudsman, Caroline Audette.

December 13, 2021

George Mason University Hires an Experienced Ombuds to Reopen Office

GMU has selected Kimberly Davidson as its next University Ombudsperson. She will restart an Ombuds program that has been dormant since 2017 and which will serve faculty and staff at the public university in Virginia. Fortunately, Davidson bring significant experience in higher education and as a conflict management expert. For the past four and a half years, Davidson has been the Ombuds for Oberlin College.

University of Iceland Appoints First Ombuds

Iceland's largest and oldest university, Háskóli Íslands, has named Sveinn Guðmundsson as its first Umboðsmaður doktorsnema. In this role, he will serve as a confident, impartial, and independent counsel for about 650 PhD students. A website for the new office explains, "The Ombudsman informs PhD students of their rights and duties, facilitates their communication with supervisors and doctoral committees, and helps them navigate the rules and procedures of PhD studies."

La Salle University Signals Plan for Ombuds Office

The private university in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania says that it is in the process of creating an Ombudsperson process. The announcement came as part of a sweeping plan to "weave equity, diversity, and inclusion—through a justice lens—into the fabric of [the] campus environment." 

December 10, 2021

Job Posting: Islamic Development Bank

The multilateral development bank based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia has renewed a search for its first Ombuds. In December 2020, IsDB had sought a "Manager Ombudsman" with duties that included some formal powers that were inconsistent with the Organizational Ombuds model employed by virtually all other international development banks. The current search envisions an Ombuds that is confidential, objective, impartial, independent, and informal.

Job Posting: Roanoke College

The private liberal arts college in Salem, Virginia is hiring its first Campus Ombuds. The new full-time position, will serve faculty, staff, and students following IOA standards. "Beyond the fulfilling duties of helping campus constituents, the position will also develop programs and strategies to educate, address, and reduce all forms of discrimination, bias, sexual violence and harassment at Roanoke College."

Prince William County Public Schools Hires Seasoned Ombuds

Monique Bookstein has been selected as the next Ombudsman for the public school system in the Virginia suburb of Washington, DC. She comes to the role after 12 years as the Chief Ombuds for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and succeeds Sarah Miller Espinosa. Bookstein will report to the PWCS board and serve the parents of 90,000 students, community members, and 11,000 employees.

December 09, 2021

Job Posting: UC Irvine

The Orange County campus of the University of California has opened a search for an Ombuds. The opening follows the promotion of Jennifer Moumneh from Senior Associate Ombuds to Director of the office. The full-time position provides Ombuds services to all campus stakeholders including members of the UCI medical center in Orange.

Ombuds Caseload Trended Down in 2020-21 at University of Iowa

The Iowa Office of the Ombudsperson reported the number of visitors declined 13% to 646 in the 2020-21 academic year. Associate Ombuds, Jennifer Lynch told the faculty senate that “s
everal factors contributed including faculty, staff, and students interacting less due to remote teaching, learning, and work, and fewer opportunities to publicize the work of our office.” Faculty cases continued to increase, however, and now represent 28% of all matters brought to the Ombuds.

Two Ombuds Serve Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University

According to a new webpage for the OIST Ombuds Office, Jeff Wickens is the Ombuds and Evan Economo is the Assistant Ombudsperson. Since 2019, they have served as a resource for all employees and students of the highly-ranked research institute (Okinawa Kagaku Gijutsu Daigakuin Daigaku).

December 08, 2021

Job Posting: Dartmouth College

The private Ivy League college in New Hampshire has opened a search for a full-time Ombudsperson. The position will serve the graduate students, postdocs, faculty and staff, but not undergrads, despite advocacy efforts by students. The Ombuds will practice to IOA standards. The search will return an Ombuds program after a hiatus of four years.

December 07, 2021

Job Posting: Indigenous Services Canada

One of Canada's two departments with responsibility for policies relating to Indigenous peoples (the other being the Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada) is hiring an Ombuds based in Gatineau, Québec. The position will report to the Deputy Minister of Indigenous Services Canada and "facilitate the resolution of work-related issues and concerns by providing all employees with a confidential, impartial and informal resource in an independent manner."

Job Posting: Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

Canada's department for northern lands and territories (one of two departments with responsibility for policies relating to Indigenous peoples, the other being the Department of Indigenous Services) is hiring an Ombuds based in Gatineau, Québec. The position will report to the Deputy Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada and serve as a "confidential, neutral and informal resource to facilitate the resolution of work-related concerns" for employees. 

December 06, 2021

Sharon Bailey: Ombuds for the Denver Public Schools

Sharon R. Bailey, the first Ombudsperson for the large public school system in Colorado, passed away Friday night at her home. She recently completed the IOA Foundations training and established the DPS Ombuds office this past summer. Bailey was remembered for her wide reach as a leader in education making a deep impact across communities in Colorado. Her last role as the Ombuds capped a long career in education and municipal government, including seven years on the Denver Public Schools Board of Education.

December 03, 2021

Forum of Canadian Ombudsman Marks Two Decades of Growth and Service

Yesterday, FCO celebrated its 20th anniversary with a virtual event. The Forum was formed in 2000 with a goal of serving the diversity of Ombuds practice in Canada. FCO currently boasts more than 450 members from across the country working in the private and corporate sector, government, and colleges and universities. FCO embraces the benefits that come from the similarities and differences between Classical and Organizational types of Ombuds.

University of Oregon Adds an Ombuds

Sara Ash has been hired by the Ombuds Program at U of O as a full-time Associate Ombudsperson. She works with University Ombudsperson Brett Harris and joins an office that serves about 30,000 faculty, staff, and students. Ash brings 16 years of higher education experience, most recently as Director of Student Success at Front Range Community College.

December 02, 2021

Central Michigan University Names Next Ombuds

CMU has selected Deborah Dodge as its University Ombudsperson. Previously, Erica Lynn Peters has been the only Ombuds for campus and served students; Dodge will serve all stakeholders following IOA standards. Introducing herself at a student government meeting earlier this week, Dodge said, “I truly care deeply about individual experiences within their organizations.”

Khazar University Introduces New Ombuds

In March of this year, Aytaj Ibrahimli was selected as the Ombudsman for Xəzər Universiteti, the private university in Baku, Azerbaijan. Along with a new website, she has initiated a number of steps to build awareness among the 2,000 students on campus. Ibrahimli has been meeting with each of the university's colleges and is conducting an anonymous survey to gauge students' concerns. The goal of her office is "to provide a confidential space for students to express their problems, find solutions and solve problems ... in a confidential, informal and impartial manner to ensure accountability and fair treatment." [Google translation.] (Khazar University Ombuds; News.)

Lynda Dunham-Wilke: Former Ombuds at University of Victoria

Lynda Ann Dunham-Wilke passed away on November 26, 2021 after a brief illness. Born and raised in Victoria, she graduated from the University of Victoria. Later, she went back to school to study law, graduating and being called to the Bar in 1987. After graduation, Dunham-Wilke served as the Ombudsperson for the UVic Students Society in 1988 and 1989. (Obituary; UVic Ombuds Special Anniversary Report, 2008.)

December 01, 2021

Pfizer Ombuds Office Marks 10-Year Anniversary

The Office of the Ombuds at Pfizer is celebrating ten years of service to the American multinational pharmaceutical and biotechnology corporation. The office has posted a celebratory video that includes thanks and encouragement from five of Pfizer's Executive Leadership Team members including the CEO, General Counsel, and Chief Compliance Officer. Sue Diviney is the Office of the Ombuds Lead and her team includes: Lourdes Delgado-Cheers, Global Ombuds; Tara Hunter, Specialist; Adam Learman, Global Ombuds; Elizabeth Lopez, Ombuds; and Sophia Qiao, Ombuds APAC. (Pfizer Video.)

November 30, 2021

Job Posting: African Union Commission

The administrative branch of the AU is hiring its first Ombudsman and Mediation Division Head. Based at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the position manages a department that provides a range of conflict management and employee relations functions. Duties include providing "services that are impartial, objective, neutral, independent, and fully confidential." The appointment is contracted for three years, including an initial one year period. 

November 29, 2021

Job Posting: Development Bank of Latin America

CAF, Corporacion Andina de Fomento – Banco de Desarrollo de América Latina, is hiring its first Ombudsperson. CAF is one of the main sources of multilateral financing for the region and has offices in13 cities. The position will provide Ombuds services to CAF personnel from the bank's office in Panama and report to the Executive President and Board of Directors. The position is described as "autonomous in a structural, operational and performance sense," and strictly confidential. 

WADA Reforms to Include First-Ever Ombuds

After two-days of meetings last week, the World Anti-Doping Agency’s Executive Committee and Foundation Board agreed to a range of governance reforms including the appointment of the organization's first Ombuds program. WADA President Witold Bańka promised that an Athletes’ Anti-Doping Ombuds Program will be piloted next year. Although WADA did not specify any standards for the new Ombuds program, in October WADA's Athlete Committee recommended "a neutral or impartial dispute resolution practice whose major function will be to provide confidential and informal assistance to athletes bound by anti-doping rules under the World Anti-Doping Code." (WADA News: 8 Oct 2021; 25 Nov 2021.)

IOA Offers 10 Scholarships for 2022 Virtual Conference

The International Ombuds Association is offering a total of ten scholarships for its virtual conference, "Belonging Together: Reimagined," on April 4-6, 2022. Five scholarships will be available for Ombuds from outside the U.S. and five will be available for new and aspiring Ombuds. (Last year, IOA also offered scholarships for its virtual Foundations training, but that course has been oversold for months.) The deadline to apply for either scholarship is December 31, 2021.

November 23, 2021

Brandeis University Names Associate Ombuds

Esther Lin has been selected as an Associate Ombuds Officer at Brandeis, joining Don Greenstein and Mike Rozinsky. She comes to the position after working as a mediator and organizational consultant for The Mediation Group (where she completed a year-long fellowship and continues as a panelist) and MWI in Massachusetts.

Texas A&M School of Engineering Names Next Staff Ombuds

Todd Cottrell has been named the Staff Ombudsperson for the College of Engineering at Texas A&M University. In this role, he "serves as a neutral, independent and confidential resource" for staff. He supplements the work of Anastasia Muliana, who is serving a two-year term the College's Faculty Ombudsperson. 

Ombuds at University of Massachusetts Amherst Posts 2021 Annual Report

Martha Patrick, CO-OP, the University Ombudsperson at UMass Amherst, reports that her office provided services to 430 visitors during the 2020-21 fiscal year. The office serves the entire campus and students comprised more than half of the visitors. As a share of visitors, staff declined significantly, which Patrick attributed to remote work and staff reductions.

November 22, 2021

IOA Seeks Nominations for Two Board Cohorts

The International Ombuds Association is asking for nominations for its Board of Directors. The election process is restarting after a delay to update the election process and other provisions of the bylaws. Now, there will be 15 IOA Director positions, with one seat reserved for an international member and a maximum limit of two seats available to candidates who are not currently practicing Ombuds.

Job Posting: University of Northern Colorado

The public university in Greeley has opened a search for its first University Ombudsperson. The full-time position will report to UNC's President and serve only faculty and staff. (The university's division of student affairs is considering a separate Ombuds for the 12,000 students.) The University Ombuds is expected to practice to IOA standards. 

MIT Digitizes Mary Rowe's Papers

An initiative at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has preserved the work of Mary Rowe, one of the early leaders of the Organizational Ombuds profession. Rowe, who served as MIT's first Ombuds, donated her professional papers to the institute's library as part of initiative to archive the contributions of women. “We’re thrilled to be able to make this collection available,” says Alex McGee, project archivist for Distinctive Collections at MIT Libraries.

November 18, 2021

Job Posting: Jeffco Public Schools

The public school system for Jefferson County, Colorado is hiring a District Equity Ombudsperson. This new position will serve primarily the 14,000 employees of the state's second largest school district, which is headquartered near Golden. The full-time Ombuds will, "Serve the District as an independent, confidential and neutral intermediary support role; navigating informal complaint resolution and the formal existing complaint procedures/processes, as appropriate, to encourage a positive culture and climate in Jeffco Public Schools."

Growing Caseload Highlights 2021 Report by Ombuds for Canada's Auditor General

Janet Campbell, the first Ombuds for the Office of the Auditor General of Canada, reports that she handled 94 cases September 2020 to August 2021. This was a increase of 47% from the prior year and also reflected an increased rate of use by the departments' 760 employees. Concerns about wellness comprised nearly half the cases, including mental health concerns, work-related stress, burnout, stress related to COVID-19, and return to work. (OAG Ombuds 2021 Report.)

November 17, 2021

Job Posting: Transportation Security Administration

The TSA's Ombudsman Division is hiring two full-time Ombudsman Specialists in Springfield, Virginia. The jobs are within the Civil Liberties, Ombudsman and Traveler Engagement Office. Travel is not required and telework may be available.