The Ombuds Team: An Independent and Confidential Resource for AEA Members

Independent. Impartial. Informal. Confidential.

The term “ombuds” (pronounced “ahm–buhds”) comes from a Swedish term meaning “a person who has an ear to the people.”

The American Economic Association Ombuds Team has three ombuds (Charmhee Kim, Nnena Odim, and Brent Epperson, see bios below) who are available to work with association members to surface and resolve work-related issues. The ombuds are an independent, impartial, informal, and confidential resource for the AEA members. The ombuds team supplements and does not replace the AEA’s formal channels.



Here are some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Ombuds Team:

  1. What is the Ombuds Team?
  2. How will the Ombuds Resource offered through MWI work?
  3. Who can reach out to the Ombuds Team? How and when can I expect to hear back?
  4. Why are there multiple people on the Ombuds Team?
  5. Can I choose which member of the Ombuds Team to interact with?
  6. What does the Ombuds Team do?
  7. What does the Ombuds Team not do?
  8. When do I contact the Ombuds Team vs. AEA Leadership?
  9. What are the examples of concerns for which the Ombuds Team might be able to offer support?
  10. If I reach out to the Ombuds Team can I remain anonymous?
  11. Can I formally report an issue to the Ombuds Team instead of the AEA?
  12. What happens when I reach out to a member of the Ombuds Team?
  13. What happens to information provided to the Ombuds Team?
  14. What authority does the Ombuds Team have?
  15. Are there any instances in which the Ombuds Team will not be able to maintain confidentiality?
  16. What does the Ombuds Team report to the AEA?
  17. What might I gain by contacting a member of the Ombuds Team?
  18. How does the Ombuds Team remain neutral?
  19. Will the Ombuds Team participate in formal meetings?
  20. How is the Ombuds Team unique from other resources at the AEA? 
  21. Should I contact the Ombuds Team to file a formal complaint with the AEA?
  22. What is the Reporting Lockbox?
  23. Where do I go to learn more about the Ombuds Resource?

AEA Member Workshops

Workshops are designed to provide information, skill development, and tools, relating to conflict management and the ombuds team resource. Click the button above for more information and to register.

About the Ombuds Team:

The AEA members should contact one of the following ombuds below to discuss options for resolution.

charmhee kim ombudsCharmhee Kim (charmhee-ombuds@mwi.org and 845-213-6818) is an experienced ombuds and cross-cultural trainer with MWI. She served as an ombuds for 15 years at McKinsey & Company, a global management consultancy, addressing workplace conflicts including harassment and discrimination claims, career development concerns, and other challenges. She has been an active member of the International Ombuds Association (IOA) since 2007 and was trained in its Foundations of Organizational Ombudsman Practice Course which she later taught as faculty. Charmhee served on the IOA Board of Directors and co-chaired its Global Marketing Task Force. Prior to entering the ombuds profession, Charmhee worked as a management consultant, investment banker, and public affairs specialist with the United Nations. She holds an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and an MA from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. Charmhee is trilingual in English, Korean, and Mandarin Chinese.

Nnena Odim ombudsNnena Odim (nnena-ombuds@mwi.org and 617-898-0938) is a mediator, ombuds, attorney, trainer, and consultant. She has been mediating since 1997, and has mediated disputes involving issues such as employment, housing, business, consumer, academic/higher education, and domestic relations. Nnena has also designed and/or led conflict management trainings for several local and national businesses and agencies, including the Boston Public Schools, Massachusetts Housing Authority, Neighborhood Works, Coca-Cola, and Netflix. In addition to her mediation and conflict resolution training background, Nnena is trained by the International Ombuds Association and has served as an ombuds for CVS, American Planning Association, and several local construction companies. After 25 years, Nnena has recently retired from Harvard Law School, where she was the Director and Senior Clinical Instructor of the Family/Domestic Violence Law Clinic at Harvard’s Legal Services Center. In addition to being an active practicing attorney in Massachusetts Family and Probate Courts, she provided experiential training to law students and taught them how to become effective and ethical attorneys. Nnena has worked with the Harvard Mediation Program (HMP) and Harvard Program on Negotiation to provide trainings for students and community members, and to supervise Harvard Law School students in their mediation and negotiation studies. Nnena has also served on numerous panels and speaking rosters for a variety of topics, including those on self-care and mental health for students and faculty, establishing boundaries in a professional setting, race and gender, and LGBTQ+ rights. In 2019, Nnena was honored by the Harvard Women’s Law Association International Committee. In 2015, she received the Harvard Law School Dean’s Award for Excellence, and in 2013, Nnena was a Top Women in the Law award recipient from Mass. Lawyers Weekly.

Brent EppersonBrent Epperson, (brent-ombuds@mwi.org and 916-407-1746) is an outsourced ombuds with MWI. A practicing ombuds for 10 years in North America and Europe, Brent is passionate about good governance and developing healthy workplace cultures. An Assistant Professor of Conflict Studies at Saint Paul University, in Ottawa, Ontario, Brent teaches and publishes in the areas of ombuds practice, mediation, good governance (health and higher education sectors), issue framing, and policy development to promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB). Brent has ombuds experience in the higher education, financial, and health care industries. He completed his Master of Public Administration at the University of Montana (U.S.), his PhD at the University of Alberta (Canada), and his postdoctoral work at the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS, France). A Board Member of the European Network of Ombuds in Higher Education (ENOHE), Associate Member of the Association of Canadian College and University Ombuds (ACCUO), and Member of the International Ombuds Association (IOA), he is active in the global ombuds community and committed to expanding ombuds practice to help organizations create more effective conflict management systems. He is fully bilingual in English and French.


A member of the Ombuds Team will get back to you within one business day.

The AEA Ombuds Team was established under a charter approved by the American Economic Association President. A copy of that charter is available here. The charter incorporates by reference the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice of the International Ombuds Association (IOA) and requires that the Ombuds Team adhere to the IOA Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice. The charter, as well as the IOA Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice, contain important information about the Ombuds Team and the manner in which it functions.

Due to the independent, impartial, informal, and confidential nature of the ombuds function, communication with an ombuds team member does not constitute formal notice to the American Economic Association.