April 28, 2023

Job Posting: Grand Rapids Public Schools

The public school system in Western Michigan is hiring its first Ombudsperson. Reporting to the superintendent, the GRPS Ombuds will serve district employees, 14,500 students, and community members following IOA standards. 

Job Posting: National Reconnaissance Office

The U.S. Department of Defense agency and one of the "big five" U.S. intelligence agencies is hiring an Ombuds. The NRO Office of the Ombuds reports to the Office of the Director and serves as all NRO personnel. Applications collected in this search may also be used for current and future NRO Ombuds positions. The job is based in Chantilly, VA, and some travel is required.

Call for Presenters: Cal Caucus 2023

The California Caucus of College and University Ombuds is seeking speaker proposals for its annual in-person meeting. The unique and intimate caucus is set for November 5-9, 2023, at the rustic and historic Asilomar Conference Grounds. This year's theme is "Diving Deep: 50 Years of Ombuds Exploration." The window for proposals, which has been open for several weeks, has been extended to May 8, 2022.

April 27, 2023

New Guide Offers Tools for Managing Conflict in Higher Ed

A new publication from the Constructive Dialogue Institute and the Aspen Institute's Citizenship and American Identity Program attempts to address the societal division and social conflict that being felt acutely on college campuses. The authors of "Transforming Conflict on College Campuses" identify six factors that contribute to conflict and provide guiding principles and strategies for more effective conflict management. 

April 26, 2023

Job Posting: City of Atlanta

The City of Atlanta is hiring a full-time Ombudsman Specialist/Neighborhoods Relationship Manager. The position reports to Jodi Merriday, the City's new Ombudsman of Neighborhoods and provides Ombuds services to residents following IOA standards. Merriday was appointed by Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens in February as part of a team to address persistent equity gaps in the city. Merriday established the Office of the Ombudsman for the Atlanta Public Schools in 2014 and served in the role for two years. 

April 24, 2023

Researchers Seek Ombuds for IOA Book Chapter on Effectiveness

Two federal Ombuds, Bina Patel and Deanna Yuille Banford, seek participants for a project that explores Ombuds effectiveness at both the individual and programmatic level. Their research will be incorporated into a chapter for the International Ombuds Association’s first book, The Organizational Ombuds: Foundations, Fundamentals & Its Future.

April 21, 2023

Job Posting: Eindhoven University of Technology / Utrecht University

Two Dutch universities have opened a search for a shared Student Ombuds. Technische Universiteit Eindhoven (TU/e) and Universiteit Utrecht (UU) each have existing Ombuds for employees. Under joint agreement, TU/e and UU will share the cost of hiring a part-time Student Ombuds, a first for either university. The Ombuds will serve 12,000 students at TU/e and over 30,000 at UU. The 0.3 FTW position will last an initial term of three years. It is unclear how much of the work will be provided remotely and the campuses are nearly 100 km apart. 

Job Posting (Internal): University of Tennessee

The Office of Ombuds Services at UT Knoxville is hiring a Graduate Research Assistant. The position will work with Campus Ombudsperson, Lisa Yamagata-Lynch, and Associate Ombudsperson, Brooke Wichmann, and supports educational programing and outreach initiatives. The half-time position will start in July 2023 and last 12 months. 

Podcast: How an Ombuds Left the Practice of Law

Sarah Cottrell, a consultant who helps lawyers leave the practice of law, interviewed Dina Lynch Eisenberg for her latest podcast. "As a former lawyer, [Eisenberg] understands the struggles of that profession and has found a way to utilize her skills to build a business. The conversation covers the different paths she took after leaving the law. Plus, she dives into exactly what she does for work now as an organizational ombuds. It’s a great conversation for any former lawyers considering HR roles and anyone looking to learn more about what’s out there." (FormerLawyer.com.) 

April 20, 2023

Georgetown University Student Ombuds Shares First Annual Report

Georgetown's Student Ombuds, Daniela Brancaforte, has published a report summarizing the work of her office from its start-up in April 2021 through the next full academic year ending in June 2022. During this period, Brancaforte worked with 278 visitors, including nine mediations. In addition, she reached out to faculty and staff for case assistance a total of 109 times.

Mary Childers: Founding Ombuds at Dartmouth College

Mary Childers, who served as the Ombuds at the private Ivy League college in New Hampshire, passed away this week. Childers was the first in her family to attend college and started at the age of 16. A multi-talented academic, Mary held teaching and administrative positions at the University of Maine-Orono, Vanderbilt, Dartmouth, Oberlin, Cincinnati, Villanova, Brown, and Brandeis. At Dartmouth, her administrative positions included serving as Director of the Women’s Resource Center, Director of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, and Special Assistant to the President. She became the first Ombuds in 2007 and served until her retirement in 2014. (Legacy.com Obituary.)

Student Affairs Podcast Features Four Ombuds

Four higher education Ombuds were interviewed this week for Student Affairs NOW, a podcast for student affairs professionals. Host Heather Shea spoke with Jessica Kuchta-Miller (University Ombuds at Duke University); Shannon Lynn Burton (University Ombudsperson at Michigan State University and Co-Ombuds for the American Education Research Association); Amanda Dean (Ombuds for Faculty and Staff office at Austin Community College); and Julie Boncompain (Protector of Rights/Ombudsperson at Polytechnique Montréal & Mila – Quebec Institute of Artificial Intelligence). They talked about their Ombuds work and how they found their way to the profession.

April 19, 2023

Colorado School of Mines Opens Internal Search for First Ombuds

The public research university in Golden is looking internally for its first Faculty Ombuds. The position will establish an IOA-complaint program and serve an initial three-year term. The Faculty Ombuds will serve the university's 680 faculty members and report directly to the President of Mines. Compensation will include a stipend of $5,000 and a one-course teaching release. (Colorado School of Mines Posting.)

Call for Presenters: USOA 2023 Conference

The United States Ombudsman Association is seeking speakers for its 42nd annual conference set for September 13-15, 2023, at the Westin in Atlanta, Georgia. This year’s theme is "Ombudsman: A Stone of Hope." Speakers should be interested in sharing their knowledge and experience relevant to the Public Sector Ombudsman profession.

Ventura County Behavioral Health Advances Ombuds Proposal

The public agency that provides mental health and substance use treatment services for Ventura County, California, is recommending the adoption of an Ombuds. At a general meeting of the VCBH Advisory Board this week, an ad hoc working group laid out the differences between an Organizational Ombuds and an Advocate Ombudsman (which is far more common in mental health agencies).

April 17, 2023

Job Posting: North Carolina State University

The public research university in Raleigh, NC, is seeking its next Faculty and Staff Ombuds. The search will fill a position vacated by the retirement of Roy Baroff, CO-OP, who established the position in 2015. The full-time position serves as a resource for about 8,000 employees at NC State and reports to the Office of the Chancellor. 

West Virginia University Appoints First Grad Student Ombuds

Associate Professor of Management, Kayla Fulmer, has been named WVU's first Graduate Student Ombudsperson.  She will serve an initial one-year term starting in the fall term. In this new part-time role, Fulmer will report to the Provost and provide assistance to nearly 6,000 graduate student. She will supplement the work of the Faculty Ombuds Christine Schimmel and practice to IOA standards.

April 14, 2023

Job Posting: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

The federal agency responsible for consumer protection in the financial sector is hiring an Associate Ombudsman. While CFPB acts as a Classical Ombudsman service, the position has duties of an Organizational Ombuds, offering informal conflict resolution services while practicing independence, impartiality, and confidentiality. The full-time position is either remote or based in Washington, DC. Travel is not required. 

Alicia Shepard: Former NPR Ombudsman

Alicia "Lisa" Shepard
, who served as the Ombudsman for National Public Radio in 2007-2011, has passed away at the age of 69. While Shepard was NPR's Ombuds, she became a focus of controversy when she defended the network's description of interrogation techniques used by the George W. Bush administration during the Iraq war. She later described her role as the "loneliest job in the newsroom." In 2011, she was the keynote speaker for the IOA conference. The balance of Shepard's career was as a journalist. (NYTimes.)

Save the Date for COFO's 2023 Conference

The Coalition of Federal Ombudsman will hold its 2023 Annual Conference on Friday, October 13, 2023 at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The full-day event will continue to be free and open to attend for anyone with an interest in Ombuds practice, especially Ombuds working in the federal space. Organizers are excited to return to holding the conference in person at the same venue where they gathered for many years pre-pandemic. Some portion of the event will be offered virtually, but the better experience will be for those who attend in person. Further details will be posted here when available.

April 13, 2023

IOA Board Selects 2023 Officers

The Board of Directors for the International Ombuds Association has announced the election of its officers for the 2023 term. All are long-time volunteers and professional Ombuds. The IOA Board meets at least monthly, with more meetings for the executive leadership. 

Job Posting: Armed Forces Retirement Home

The federally-run veterans retirement facility in Washington, DC, is seeking an Ombudsman. There is some ambiguity within the posting. The top-line description for the position is for a Classical, Long-Term Care Ombudsman: "The Ombudsman is a senior advocate for unresolved resident issues." The more detailed list of duties is consistent with an Organizational Ombuds: "Provide residents with confidential, informal and impartial assistance and serves as an advocate for fairness for residents seeking answers to unresolved questions, providing a mechanism for problem resolution after considering all sides of an issue in an informed and unbiased fashion."

April 12, 2023

ABA's 2023 Dispute Resolution Section Spring Conference Includes Two Ombuds Sessions

Registration is now open f0r the American Bar Association's Dispute Resolution Section Spring Conference. The in-person event is the world's largest ADR conference and will take place at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, May 10-13, 2023. The theme of this year’s conference is “Leading Change Through ADR: Strategies for Navigating Our World Today.” Liz Hill, Ombuds at the University of Colorado Boulder, is the Planning Committee Co-Chair.

April 11, 2023

Job Posting: Kaiser Permanente, Northern California

KP is hiring a full-time HealthCare Ombuds/Mediator for its medical facilities in San Rafael, California. 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." Local travel is required.

Union Contract Negotiators at Oregon Health & Science University Consider Role of Ombuds

Last week, members of the OHSU and Graduate Researchers United bargaining teams met in their sixth collective bargaining session. Among other things, the union proposed to include reference to the University Ombuds. This would be uncommon, but not unprecedented.

Here's a summary from OHSU:

Ombuds to Address Labor and Employment Relations Association

On April 13, 2023, LERA will offer a webinar featuring two Ombuds. Geetha Ravindra, CO-OP, and Julie Weber, CO-OP, will explain "Who Ombuds Are, What Ombuds Do, and How Ombuds Benefit the Workplace." Ravindra is currently in private practice and previously served as Ombuds for the International Monetary Fund and the Center for Global Development. Weber is currently the Ombuds for Brown University and also held the position at Montgomery College. The LERA webinar is free for non-members. (VA LERA.)

April 10, 2023

Job Posting: Think Systems, Inc.

The Maryland-based management consulting firm is hiring an Ombudsman. It is not clear whether the full-time position will serve Think employees or one of the firm's many mid-size company or state or federal public entity clients. The Ombuds will practice to IOA standards. 

April 07, 2023

Internship: Texas Department of Motor Vehicles

The Texas DMV is seeking a Summer Intern Specialist—Ombudsman. The full-time, paid position reports to the TxDMV Employee Ombudsman, Leah Leone. The intern "will be responsible for performing professional and administrative functions supporting various functions as a direct report ... under close supervision with limited latitude for the use of initiative and independent judgement." The internship is based in Austin and begins as early as May 15 and ends by August 31, 2023. The office of the Employee Ombudsman was created in FY2020 and serves as an Organizational Ombuds for department employees.

April 05, 2023

IOA Announces 2023 Conference Scholarship Winners

The International Ombuds Association is wrapping up its annual conference in Seattle today. Among the480 attendees were scholarship winners: Ombuds practicing outside the U.S. and new/aspiring Ombuds who do not have sufficient organizational support.

Here is a list of the scholarship recipients:

Marshall University Names Next Faculty Ombuds

Robin Riner has been selected the next Faculty Ombudsperson for the public university in Huntington, West Virginia. In the part-time position, Riner will serve as a resource for Marshall's faculty and staff, practicing to IOA standards. Riner joins La'Kesha Taylor, who has been the University Ombuds since 2019. Riner is a Professor of Anthropology. (WAM Newsletter.)

April 04, 2023

Job Posting: Smith College

The private women's liberal arts college in Northampton, Massachusetts has opened a search for its next Ombudsperson. The part-time position (two days a week) will work with faculty and staff. The search will fill a position vacated by Michael Stephens, who served in the position for five years and recently moved to MWI as a contract Ombuds.

American Educational Research Association Continues its Conference Ombuds Program

The professional association for academic researchers announced that Shannon Lynn Burton and Carol Mershon will return as Ombuds for its 2023 annual meeting. AERA’s Ombuds are available to all attendees, staff, exhibitors, vendors, and any others at the conference, which will take place in in Chicago, April 13–16, 2023, and virtually May 4–5. Burton is the University Ombudsperson at Michigan State University and Mershon has been the Ombuds for the American Political Science Association. Together, the co-founded the program for AERA in 2019. (AERA News.)

April 03, 2023

Job Posting: Montgomery College

The public community college in Rockville, Maryland has opened a search for its next College Ombuds. The full-time position serves 3,000 administrators, faculty, and staff and practices to IOA standards. The search will fill a position vacated by Allison Monyei Whaley, CO-OP, who moved to a Federal Ombuds last spring.

SOS Children's Villages Names Inaugural Ombuds

Dona Houansou has been appointed the first National Ombudsperson for the Austria-based international development organization that provides aid and advocacy for children. Initial descriptions of the position were vague, but Houansou explains that it will be an Organizational Ombuds serving children, young adults, and staff in Benin.

Harvard University Gains an Experienced Ombuds

Lisa Neale will join the Harvard University Ombuds Office as an Ombuds I later this month. She will join Ombuds Director, Melissa Brodrick, and work with stakeholders at Harvard Medical School, School of Dental Medicine, and School of Public Health. Neale comes from the University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus where she has been the Associate Director of the Ombuds Office for two decades. Meanwhile, Justin Neiman, who was the Associate Ombuds at Harvard since 2019 has moved to another non-Ombuds position at Harvard.

April 01, 2023

IOA 2023 Conference Guide

The International Ombuds Association holds its 18th Annual Conference this week in Seattle. It's the first in-person conference in four years after the COVID pandemic forced the cancellation of the 2019 conference and the two subsequent years were virtual. This year's theme considers the role of Ombuds and also hints at the changes in Ombuds practice: "Ombuds as Change Agent? ReEngaging and Transforming Conflict." Here's list of posts about the conference and issues that are likely to be discussed by attendees: