The Conference Ombuds: An Independent and Confidential Resource to Raise Concerns at WEFTEC

Private. Confidential. Effective.

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

The Conference Ombuds is a neutral, independent, off-the-record resource who is available on-site to hear concerns confidentially. The Ombuds can assist with identifying options and resources to address conflicts or issues such as harassment, discrimination, or any violation of WEF’s Member Code of Conduct and Conference Code of Conduct. This new resource is available to all attendees, staff, exhibitors, and anyone participating in WEFTEC.

The Conference Ombuds will be available during WEFTEC for individual, confidential consultations. Virtual consultations will be held on September 30, 2023 and October 1, 2023 (8:00 am – 5:30 pm) and scheduled or walk-in consultations on October 2, 2023 (8:00 am – 9:00 AM and 10:00 am – 5:30 pm), October 3, 2023 (8:00 am – 5:30 pm) and October 4, 2023 (8:00 am – 3:30 pm). The Conference Ombuds office is located in room S400b – level 4 of the convention center.

Use the form below to learn more or schedule an appointment with the ombuds.

Here are some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about a conference ombuds function:

  1. What does a conference ombuds do?
  2. How do I contact the ombuds before, during and after the Conference?
  3. What does an ombuds not do?
  4. Who can use the ombuds service?
  5. What types of concerns are brought to the ombuds?
  6. What happens when you contact the ombuds?
  7. What might I gain by contacting the ombuds?
  8. What authority does the ombuds have?
  9. What happens to information provided to the ombuds?
  10. How does the conference ombuds differ from employee relations or Human Resources professional?
  11. How does the conference ombuds differ from a lawyer?
  12. How does a conference ombuds differ from a mediator?
  13. What sort of issues and concerns come to the conference ombuds?
  14. If I have a concern on someone else’s behalf at the conference, may I contact the ombuds, or is this service only for people who are concerned about themselves?
  15. How does the ombuds remain neutral?
  16. Will the ombuds participate in formal meetings?
  17. How is the ombuds unique and different than other resources at WEF?
  18. Are there some things that will not be kept confidential?
  19. Will the ombuds talk to my attorney or testify for me or for the company if I choose to file a grievance or lawsuit?
  20. Can the user of the ombuds services remain anonymous?
  21. Does the conference ombuds report to WEFTEC on issues they dealt with at the conference?
  22. What if my question is not listed here?

WEF Resources

About the Ombuds

WEFTEC conference attendees have access to the following ombuds:

Caitlan Hendrickson

Caitlan Hendrickson (caitlan-ombuds@mwi.org) is a Certified Organizational Ombuds Practitioner (CO-OP) with over eighteen years of experience in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and over a decade of experience leading ADR offices in large multicultural organizations. With extensive experience working in a wide variety of settings – including in higher education, healthcare, court, government, and non-profit organizations – she enjoys tailoring her extensive experience and training in conflict engagement practices and human relations to the unique needs of the individuals, groups, and organizations she serves, whether they are small non-profits or large, complex institutions. Caitlan has been a member of the International Ombuds Association since 2011 and brings a background in Ombuds work that is truly multidisciplinary, bridging countless academic disciplines, healthcare, research and innovation, emergency response, and social service. She entered the Ombuds profession as a mediator and restorative justice practitioner with extensive experience working with disadvantaged and marginalized communities in the social service sector, where she specialized in multicultural inclusion and trauma-informed work. Caitlan sees conflict and other challenges as potent opportunities for learning, growth, and transformation on individual, group, and organizational/systemic levels, and enjoys the process of facilitating evolution on each level. She holds a M.Ed. in Human Relations and graduate certificate in Educational Technology – Adult Learning & Training, and is currently completing a doctorate in leadership. As a fluent Spanish speaker, she provides Ombuds services in both English and Spanish. Contact Caitlan at caitlan-ombuds@mwi.org or complete the confidential web form below.


  • Phone: (direct and confidential phone and voicemail) 
  • Confidential web form:
    • Please complete the form below. If you would like to submit the form in confidence, you are not required to give your name.


Due to the confidential, neutral, informal and independent nature of the ombuds function, communication with the ombuds does not constitute formal notice to WEF.

The WEF Charter for the WEFTEC Conference Ombuds was established under a charter approved by the Managing Director of Governance, Association Engagement, and Special Projects. 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 WEF ombuds 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 and the manner in which the ombuds functions.