Conference Ombuds

To support ASHE's commitment to creating an inclusive and safe space for all and in line with its Ethical Principles, Code of Ethics, its Conference Code of Conduct or and other applicable policies, ASHE will provide organizational ombuds services in connection with its Annual Conference. ASHE’s goal is to have a conference that is as inclusive and accessible as possible for attendees. In addition, ASHE desires to improve the conduct and climate at future conferences with aggregate data and non-confidential feedback on trends and recommendations from the ombuds.

The ASHE Conference Ombuds is an independent, neutral, confidential, informal, and independent resource who will be available to learn about conference attendees’ concerns and assist them by identifying options and resources to resolve conflicts or issues – including harassment, discrimination, or any violation of the ASHE Ethics Code, Standards of Conduct, or any of the ASHE Ethics policies.

Per the International Ombudsman Association, the Ombuds Role at the ASHE Conference will be to:

  • Listen and understand attendees’ concerns, neutrally and confidentially
  • Identify and discuss the range of options available to attendees
  • Provide guidance and resources to attendees on how to resolve conflicts or address concerns about unethical or inappropriate behavior
  • Inform attendees about and explain options for formally reporting misconduct to ASHE
  • Offer support and guidance even if the attendees choose not to file a formal report or complaint

The Ombuds will not:

  • Participate in formal investigations or play any role in a formal issue resolution process
  • Serve in any other ASHE role that would compromise the neutrality of the ombuds role
  • Make binding decisions or mandate policies

The Conference Ombuds will be available to consult with conference attendees concerning any conference-related issues identified above. As a neutral third-party, the Ombuds is an advocate for fair and equitable process. The Ombuds does not, however, provide legal or other kinds of advocacy or enforce ASHE’s Ethical Principles, Code of Ethics, and its Conference Code of Conduct or other applicable policies.


Colette Carmouche is an Ombudsperson for faculty, staff, and students at Harvard University. Prior to joining Harvard, Colette served in the federal government for 13 years in various capacities including conflict transformation, diversity, equity, and inclusion, and historic preservation.

Colette previously held roles as an Ombudsman Specialist for the Transportation Security Administration, a mediation program manager, mediator, facilitator, trainer, ombuds, and coach for the U.S. Department of Interior, and she also assisted in establishing the first service-wide diversity and inclusion office for the National Park Service.

Colette earned a Bachelor of Arts with dual majors in Anthropology and African and African American Studies from the University of Rochester and a Master of Science in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from George Mason University. She also holds an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) credential from the International Coach Federation.


Mary Bliss Conger (she/they) is a writer, consultant, relationship-builder, and systems thinker with expertise in ombudship; organizational change and learning; capacity building via conflict resolution; narrative mediation; multipartiality; group dialogue facilitation; and social justice education.

She holds an Ed.D. in educational leadership from the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education, where her research focused on the relationship between ombudship and leadership and the role of conflict in organizational learning. She is a member of the International Ombuds Association.


The Conference Ombuds will be available in the Board 3, 3rd Floor of the Hilton Minneapolis at the following times:

  • Wednesday, November 16: 8:00am-5:00pm
  • Thursday, November 17: 8:00am--5:00pm
  • Friday, November 18: 8:00am-5:00pm
  • Saturday, November 19: 8:00am-3:00pm