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Associate Ombudsman: Marcia Martinez-Helfman

July 12, 2011, Volume 58, No. 01

Vice President of Institutional Affairs Joann Mitchell announced the appointment of Marcia Martinez-Helfman as associate ombudsman, effective July 1, 2011.  Ms. Martinez-Helfman has over 20 years experience in conflict resolution and human resources leadership.  Her experience includes having served as president of Zia Business Partners, and senior director of human resources for Comcast Cable as well as chief human resources officer and corporate director of human resources policies and practices for the University of Pennsylvania Health System. 

Ms. Martinez-Helfman will work in partnership with the University Ombudsman to assist members of the University community who have questions or concerns related to their experiences at Penn.  Established in 1971, the Office of the Ombudsman works to ameliorate concerns and is “available to listen and inquire into issues or complaints; to explore options for informal resolution of conflicts; to mediate specific disputes; to clarify and examine university policies and procedures; and to connect [people] with appropriate resources within the University.”  The Office also makes recommendations to the administration regarding systemic issues that require attention.

 “I am delighted that we were able to recruit Marcia whom I am confident will be a wonderful addition to Penn,” said Ms. Mitchell.  “Marcia is very highly regarded for her excellent judgment and her strong communication and interpersonal skills.  Her references attested to her exemplary skills as a thoughtful and careful listener who skillfully facilitates difficult conversations and resolves conflicts in a fair and equitable manner.”

Ms. Martinez-Helfman earned a BA in sociology and a JD from Penn and a MSW from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

Dr. Gulbun O’Connor, who returned to serve as interim associate ombudsman while the search was completed, will work with Ms. Martinez-Helfman during July to ensure a smooth transition.  “I am very grateful to Dr. O’Connor for her extraordinary service to her alma mater,” said Ms. Mitchell.

Almanac - July 12, 2011, Volume 58, No. 01