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Ombuds Day 2020

What is Ombuds Day?

In 2018, the American Bar Association Section of Dispute Resolution declared the second Thursday of October as Ombuds Day. October 8, 2020 is Ombuds Day, a recognition of a profession that has existed for centuries yet remains relatively unknown and underutilized: the ombuds. This year’s theme is “Ombuds: Unusual name. Important service.”

The primary goal of Ombuds Day is to improve public awareness of ombuds.

Our actions are intended to: 

  1. educate the public about the role of ombuds, 
  2. explain the wide variety of services that ombuds provide, 
  3. encourage greater use of ombuds programs and services, and 
  4. highlight the value ombuds bring to the institutions and constituents they serve.

The secondary goals of Ombuds Day are to connect ombuds in their respective communities and to recognize their important work.

What is an Ombuds?

Ombuds, also known as ombudspersons, ombudsman, ombudsmen, are confidential, impartial, and independent conflict management professionals in universities; federal, state, and local governments; healthcare facilities; and a variety of other organizations. However, their roles and services are relatively unknown compared to other methods of resolving conflicts such as mediation, arbitration, and litigation.  

Ombuds are uniquely qualified to resolve conflicts and to serve as a conduit for change through their ability to bring significant and/or repetitive issues to management’s attention in a safe and confidential way, particularly with sensitive or controversial issues. They may raise issues to leadership that others cannot or will not discuss. This includes identifying unintended consequences of programs and policies that negatively affect constituents. Given the profession’s versatile nature, many variations or types of ombuds practices have emerged. Some work with constituents who are external to their organization, while others work with internal constituents such as employees or students. Some investigate complaints, while others serve as advocates. While this versatility is beneficial, it can also create misunderstandings about the profession.

Virtual Events

Ombuds Day – A Recognition of the Ombuds Profession & the Value of Ombuds

Date: October 8, 2020 – 10-11:30 AM ET (morning session)

Date: October 8, 2020 – 4-5:30 PM ET (afternoon session)

Note: We are hosting two similar events at two different times to accommodate participation nationwide (and outside the US as well).

Presenters: Chuck Howard, Executive Director, International Ombudsman Association, as well as a panel discussion with questions and answers with representatives from International Ombudsman Association, United States Ombudsman Association, Coalition of Federal Ombudsman, and National Association for State Long-Term Care Ombudsman.

Description: Are you familiar with the role of an ombuds, also known as ombudspersons, ombudsman, ombudsmen? Are you familiar with the value that ombuds programs provide to their organizations and constituents? This interactive webinar will discuss these topics and be of interest to current ombuds, those considering becoming or working with an ombuds, and leaders considering establishing an ombuds program.

Watch a recording of the Morning Session

Watch a recording of the Afternoon Session


Getting Through the Maze: How an Ombudsman Untangles the Complexity of the Immigration Benefits Process at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

Date: October 2, 2020 – 1-2 PM ET


  • Michael Dougherty, CIS Ombudsman
  • Fatimah Mateen, CIS Senior Advisor

Description: Meet the Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman whose mission is to help individuals traverse the maze by improving the quality of immigration services delivered to the public by USCIS. The ombudsman identifies and explains variations to the maze as USCIS responds to events affecting the country on a national level.

Register Now (use code “ombudsday” to register)

Taking Ombuds/Mediation Skills to the Protest 

Date: October 7, 2020 – 1-2 PM ET


  • Roy Baroff, North Carolina State University, Faculty & Staff Ombuds
  • D.A. Graham, The University of Kansas, University Ombuds

Description: Activism seeks to cause discomfort, demonstrate opposition, and highlight differences while ombudsing / mediation seeks to facilitate a collective approach that focuses on shared interests and goals. Is the work of ombuds and mediators as compared to activism contradictory? Or could they somehow work together to solve these deep-rooted societal issues? Join two ombuds in an interview / conversation about taking your ombuds / mediation skills to the streets.

Handling Unreasonable Complaints as an Ombuds

Date: October 8, 2020 – 4-5:30 PM ET


  • Donald Sword, New South Wales, Australia

Description: In honor of the third annual Ombuds Day, Salt River Project’s Consumer Affairs Ombudsman Office, in collaboration with the United States Ombudsman Association, invites you to participate in a special webinar focused on dealing with unreasonable complainant conduct. Zooming with us from New South Wales, Australia, will be Donald Sword, a renowned expert who delivers training programs on complaint handling to state and federal government agencies, universities and community service organizations. Unreasonable conduct by complainants can take up an inordinate amount of your time and resources as Ombudsmen. This webinar will provide you with some specific strategies and skills to effectively and confidently manage unreasonable complainant requests and conduct.

Register Now (not applicable, locally coordinated)

Ombuds: Adding Value by Addressing Matters of Impact

Date: October 13, 2020 – 1-2:15 PM ET


  • Allison Monyei Whaley, Clemson University Ombuds for Staff
  • Melanie McNeil, State of Georgia Long-Term Care Ombudsman
  • Tracey McNeil, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Ombudsman
  • Delicia L. Perdue-Williams, Weatherford Ombuds & Manager, Dispute Resolution Program & Ombuds Services

Description: Many organizations emphasize the use of data – or “the numbers” – to support and justify significant decisions. However, the value of the story behind the numbers is often overlooked.

Our panel of practicing Ombudsmen will share their unique working perspectives on "volume versus value," and how the ombuds role shapes their value to their various organizations and stakeholders. They will share real world scenarios and discuss effective navigation strategies when concepts such as confidentiality and privacy collide with the ability to self-promote and share true value.

The webinar format will feature collaborative discussions and provide attendees with tools and strategies for demonstrating value and impact beyond the numbers alone.

International - Corporate Sector Ombuds Day

Date: October 13, 2020 – 11 AM-1 PM ET

Coordinated by:

  • Diana Mosonyi, conflict resolution specialist, organizational ombuds & mediator
  • Juan Lattanzio, lawyer specialized in conflict resolution


  • Chuck Howard: Executive Director of the International Ombuds Association (USA)
  • Camilo Azcalare: Ombudsperson of the European Southern Observatory (Chile)
  • Lynne Chaillat: Ombudsperson of the Mckinsey ( France)
  • Bruce MacAllister: Director and Founder of the Business Excellent Solution ( USA)
  • Nora Galer: Former Director of the United Nations Ombudsman Office (USA)
  • Alberto Elisavetsky: President of the Online Dispute Resolution Latinoamericá (Argentina)
  • Jorge L. Maiorano: Classic Ombuds (Argentina)

Description: The Ombuds Day worldwide celebration serves as a unique opportunity to educate and raise awareness among the public about the history and practices of the ombuds profession including the various ombuds models, the roles they play, the services they offer, and the value they provide. What to expect? Incredible speakers sharing their interesting experiences in their Ombuds work. The event is strategically structured to make a journey from the origins to the future including relevant issues in the present about the figure of the Ombuds.

Embracing Conflict: Organizational Ombuds on Campus

Date: October 16, 2020 – 1-2:15 PM ET


  • Elizabeth Hill, University of Colorado Boulder Ombuds Office
  • Charles L Howard, Executive Director, International Ombudsman Association
  • Dawn Osborne-Adams, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University Ombuds
  • Steve Prevaux, University of South Florida, University Ombuds

Description: Still unsure what an Organizational Ombuds is? Or how institutions of higher education benefit from having an Ombuds? Join us for this active discussion of the rapidly developing role of Organizational Ombuds in higher education and how they serve as strategic allies for legal counsel. Learn how Ombuds harness the power of conflict in alignment with your organization's core values and mission.

How the Child Protection Ombudsman Helps Children and Families Navigate COVID-19

Date: November 12, 2020 – 2-3 PM ET


  • Patrick Dowd, Washington Office of Family and Children's Ombuds
  • Amanda Pennington, Office of Colorado’s Child Protection Ombudsman
  • Jill Kehaulani, Minnesota Office of Ombudsperson for Families
  • Moria O'Neill, State of New Hampshire Office of the Child Advocate
  • Stephanie Villafuerte, Colorado Child Protection Ombudsman Office

Description: The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted child welfare systems across the country. Child protection ombudsman have been at the forefront of this pandemic helping children and families navigate this crisis. Come learn how child safety and well-being has been impacted and how ombudsman are working in their communities to mitigate the impact of this deadly virus for vulnerable families.


Ombuds Day activities and plans are coordinated by the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution Ombuds Day Subcommittee as well as volunteers across the nation. We encourage you to join one or more of the following virtual events and webinars.

Have questions about Ombuds Day?  Please go to under Contact Us.

Archives of Previous Activities