January 26, 2024

UC Berkeley Staff Ombuds Set to Retire

Sara Thacker, the Director of UC Berkeley's Staff Ombuds Office, will retire at the end of January. A campus announcement from the Chancellor's Chief of Staff recapped Thacker's impressive Ombuds career and hinted at the next steps for the office:

Through the past 16 years, Sara has worked tirelessly to support staff through workplace conflicts and historic challenges brought by the recent pandemic. Most notable is Sara’s commitment to systemic change to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion for our campus community. Sara was among the first to advocate for adoption of a workplace bullying prevention policy when none existed. With her continued support and advisement, Berkeley became the first campus in the UC system to adopt such a policy. Sara is forward-thinking, and her work to support systemic change is something to be celebrated as we honor the first year of the systemwide Abusive Conduct in the Workplace Policy. 

While leading the Staff Ombuds Office, Sara has made significant improvements to its operations. Sara redesigned and expanded the curriculum of Staff Ombuds conflict resolution courses provided to all Berkeley staff members. This included a new full day Analyzing and Resolving Workplace Conflict course for the Berkeley People Management Program. To increase access to the Staff Ombuds Office, and promote inclusion, Sara worked with ombuds in other countries to translate Staff Ombuds Office informational flyers to Mandarin and Spanish and provided all visitors to the Staff Ombuds Office with free translation services. In addition, Sara ensured that every visitor to the Staff Ombuds Office received an assessment of services survey and improved distribution methods, resulting in a 60% survey response rate. Only by reading the feedback from these surveys can you understand the depth of gratitude we owe to Sara for her support of hundreds of staff members throughout her many years of service. 

Having served on the Board of Directors for the International Ombuds Association, Sara is a recognized leader in the profession and has helped support the establishment of ombuds offices at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, UC San Francisco, UC Davis, and UC Office of the President. From 2010-2014 Sara developed a new ombuds services program for LBNL and concurrently served as the Laboratory Ombudsperson. Most recently, Sara helped establish the first Ombuds Office at UCOP and managed the administration of this office until a permanent Director was hired in 2021. By supporting these new ombuds offices and applying for grants, Sara was able to raise an unprecedented $1.2 million during her tenure. 

The Chancellor’s Office will be examining the structure of the Staff Ombuds Office and will begin a search for a director. As we look to the future, we want to express our deepest appreciation for Sara and her extraordinary years of service, support of Berkeley staff, and contributions to the larger UC community. As is true to her nature, Sara did not want a lot of fanfare upon her departure. If you have been touched by her work, please join me in taking time to share your own words of gratitude and private message in this Tribute. [link]

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations on the retirement!