The Ombuds office offers a safe place for Northeastern University faculty and staff to discuss workplace issues and concerns with a professional whose goal it is to ensure that all members of the university community are treated fairly and equitably. Because communications with the ombuds are confidential, visitors need not fear that their identities will be disclosed or that there will be any retaliation. The ombuds will not answer questions about people with whom she has spoken or disclose any individual’s name or specific issue unless she is given explicit permission to do so by the individual for the purpose of informal conflict resolution.

You may contact the ombuds as a first step or a last resort—or at any point along the way—to discuss a work-related issue or problem. She will listen to your concerns, provide information about relevant university policies and resources, gather additional information if needed, help you evaluate your situation, and explore and assess alternative avenues for resolution. At your request and if appropriate, she may contact the other party (manager, supervisor, department chair, Dean) and seek additional information or clarification to better understand the nature of the problem. She can also facilitate constructive solutions by providing assistance and coaching with written and verbal communications and, provided all parties agree, by engaging in “shuttle diplomacy” or informal mediation, or simply by being present in a discussion as a neutral.

The ombuds will help you to assess the potential benefits and risks associated with different courses of action so that you can determine how to address the issue most safely and effectively. You control the process and decide what, if any, actions you wish to take. The ombuds will respect your choices.

Donna M. Bishop received her PhD in Criminal Justice in 1982 from the State University of New York at Albany and has been a member of the Northeastern University faculty since 1999. She has written two books and over seventy articles and monographs. Her major works focus on racial and gender inequities in justice processing, juvenile law reform, and juvenile corrections policy and practice. She is a former editor of Justice Quarterly and serves on the editorial boards of six major journals. She has often taken her academic research into the policy arena, making presentations before legislative bodies, judicial conferences, prosecutorial conferences, public defender and sentencing advocacy groups, juvenile task forces and commissions, and the National Academy of Sciences. She frequently serves as an expert witness in delinquency proceedings and has contributed to multiple amicus curiae briefs submitted to the United States Supreme Court.

Donna also has a graduate degree in mental health counseling from the University of Florida. She is experienced in crisis counseling and informal conflict resolution, and continues to take training courses in dispute resolution and ombudsry. She is a member of the International Ombudsman Association (IOA), the largest association of organizational ombudspersons in the world. She subscribes to the IOA Code of Ethics.