Session 6 F

The Delicate Dance

Time: Wednesday 12:40 PM –1:50 PM

Presenter(s): Bill Maurer, Director, United States Census Bureau; Carolyn Esposito, Ombuds, AllianceBernstein; Lauren Marx, Consultant Self-Employed – Learn more about this presenter by visiting the presenter page

Level: Experienced


For many ombuds, our effectiveness, including our (continued) existence, comes down to persuasion and perseverance. We must persuade organizational leadership to establish and support our office, and later, to view our recommendations as credible. We must educate and enforce ombuds standards of practice despite organizational obstructions or challenges. We must demonstrate our trustworthiness to constituents and encourage them to utilize our services. We must also convince our organizational partners of our intentions to collaborate. At the same time, progress is rarely linear. Ombuds sustainability requires an unwavering belief in the value of ombuds work, emotional and mental strength, and a treasure trove of skills. During this interactive session, we will unpack case studies from our experiences as ombuds in government, corporate, and academia, and discuss essential takeaways for participant consideration. Case studies may include establishing a new, solo ombuds office and staying motivated despite the everyday challenges, keeping ombuds offices open, the balance between working with management and employees, and also persuading leadership to effect systemic change. Next, participants will be divided into small groups to share and discuss their issues, struggles, and concerns with a pitchback session to share any insights or common themes within the groups. Finally, the program will culminate in a presenter-led exercise to review final thoughts and insights from the day.

Learning Objectives

  1. Identify and discuss strategies for remaining committed to ombuds work during difficult times.
  2. Develop persuasion and influencing skills and strategies for advanced ombuds work.
  3. Practice applying persuasion and influencing skills and strategies.
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