First Southwest Ombuds Symposium: 2-day event allows community of ombuds professionals to learn from each other

By Ish Baki, Americas Ombudsman - Mars,Inc.,

Attendees at the Southwest Ombuds Symposium, hosted by Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Ombuds Office, met at the Laboratory’s Dorothy McKibbin Conference Center in Santa Fe on Aug. 25 and 26.  The Symposium brought together 19 attendees from across New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado. "The group has been meeting virtually approximately once per month since 2020," said Cindy Mazur, the Lab’s Ombuds manager. "By the end of 2021, we felt the strong need to meet in person, hence the decision to plan a symposium."

Ethics and Audit Division Director Rachel Schroeder kicked off the first day of the event. The day also included an address from the featured speaker, Chief Justice Emeritus of the Navajo Nation Robert Yazzie. Chief Justice Emeritus Yazzie led with a discussion of the Navajo tradition of peacekeeping. "The Navajo principles, which bring resilience to the life of everyone, align with that of the work of organizational ombuds as impartial peacemakers who work toward building relationships and trust when people feel harmed or hurt," said Elisa Enriquez, senior associate ombuds at the Lab. Other activities included an opportunity for the attendees to share similarities and differences in how they do their work, and discussion around common challenges and best approaches to the work ombuds do.

The second day of the symposium took place at the Lab's Bradbury Science Museum. There, attendees explored Los Alamos history and learned about the Lab's Ombuds Office, which was created in 1996 under the guidance of then-Lab Director Sig Hecker. Nic Lewis, Lab historian, discussed the creation of the Laboratory and the juxtaposition of its conflict resolution work while maintaining a nuclear stockpile in order to deter global threats.

Besides the Lab's Ombuds group, attendees included ombuds from Sandia National Laboratories; Mars, Inc.; FEMA; Northern Arizona State University; University of Colorado, Boulder; University of Colorado, Denver; the Arizona Department of Corrections and the Commercial Association of Realtors. "The common theme for the group was that as ombuds we are a safe place for people to be heard, and that listening to people at all levels goes a long way to help explore their options when they feel stuck on an issue," said Kazmere Duffey, associate ombuds at the Lab. "The feedback on the symposium suggests that learning from each other in an in-person setting was invaluable, including discussing trends around marginalized groups and creating more inclusive workplaces." 

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Comments on "First Southwest Ombuds Symposium: 2-day event allows community of ombuds professionals to learn from each other "

Comments 0-15 of 4

Johnny Armijo - Friday, November 10, 2023

Any plans to host another event this year? I would love to join in!

Laura Umphrey - Thursday, September 21, 2023

Is this group still meeting monthly? I'd like to join! Thank you!

Ronnie Thomson - Thursday, October 20, 2022

Excellent Symposium. Thank you to all who volunteered time, talent, and financing. Beautiful location too!

Mr. Ismail Baki - Monday, October 17, 2022

It was really an amazing experience; the energy, enthusiasm and passion for this profession that exists was multiplied infinitely when we all got together in person! Thanks to LANL for hosting!

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