2023 Keynote Speakers

Meet Our Keynotes

3 April Keynote | 10:00 AM – 11:15 PM PT

Amy Gallo

Turning Challenging Interactions into Productive Change

We all want to get along with the people we work with — but it seems like some people make it particularly hard to do so. And for the Ombuds, it’s imperative that we can successfully navigate challenging colleagues, particularly when surfacing systemic issues and opportunities for change.  In this talk, you’ll learn about eight familiar types of challenging colleagues (including the insecure boss, the pessimist, the know-it-all, and the biased coworker), why they behave the way they do, and strategies for working constructively with each one. No matter who you’re dealing with, Gallo provides the compassion, encouragement, and tools you need to prevail on your terms – and make change along the way.

About Amy Gallo

Amy Gallo is a workplace expert who writes and speaks about gender, interpersonal dynamics, difficult conversations, feedback, and effective communication. She is the author of Getting Along: How to Work with Anyone (Even Difficult People) and the HBR Guide to Dealing with Conflict, as well as hundreds of articles for Harvard Business Review. For the past three years, Amy has co-hosted HBR’s popular Women at Work podcast, which examines the struggles and successes of women in the workplace. She is frequently sought out by media outlets for her perspective on workplace dynamics, conflict, and difficult conversations. Her advice has been featured in The New York Times, Fast Company, Marketplace, and The Austin American-Statesman, as well as on WNYC, the BBC, and ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).

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4 April Keynote | 8:30 AM – 9:30 AM PT 

Sarah Freiesleben

The Agency of Change: Condition Tending for Dynamic Quality

"Symbiosis is a necessary ingredient for evolution. This means the developments humanity needs to sustain itself depend on encounters that feel like conflict. Individually and collectively, we need to be able to identify and navigate desirable difficulties to influence positive change in the world. Can ombuds help create the conditions for this?"


About Sara Freiesleben

Sarah Freiesleben helps purpose-driven organisations sustainably innovate by applying human insights to technology development. With an advanced degree in linguistics and 15 years working on multi-national, cross-functional enterprise projects in a wide variety of industries, she believes that technological endeavors need the humanities to develop the best solutions for humanity. Her passion is shaping more holistic ecosystems so people who want to change the world can find the coherence and agency to do so. She lives in Copenhagen and works as a consultant and as an Industry Fellow at The Technical University of Denmark. 


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4 April Mary Rowe Keynote 4:00 PM – 4:45 PM PT


Brian Bloch, CO-OP®

An Inside-Out approach to Becoming an Effective Change Agent  

How many of us dreamed of being an ombuds when we grew up? So then, how and why did we choose this profession? Brian will help us explore our own paths—and the personal values that illuminate our paths—by stories of his ombuds journey working with Faith-based organizations, a global non-profit, and Indigenous American federal employees. He’ll discuss how our values help us serve individuals, groups, and the systems we work with.


About Brian Bloch

Brian grew up on Long Island. In the 70s he dropped out of the University of Michigan to become a monk. He was a monk for 12 years up to the time of his marriage. (meeting his future wife was the end of being a monk!). He and his wife Ananda moved to India where he taught Sanskrit literature and worked on a project introducing mediation to the Indian court system. During that time, he traveled back and forth from India in order to study at and eventually receive an MA from Eastern Mennonite University. Upon returning permanently to the States, Brian became the first ombuds at the Department of Interior. Altogether, Brian has started three ombuds offices: ISKCONResolve, Interior and the Ashoka Foundation. He has been an organizational ombuds for 20 years, a, IOA Board member, and associate editor of the JIOA. 

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