The Role of the MPSA Meeting Ombuds

As an informal resource, the Ombuds plays no role in MPSA’s formal complaint procedure but can offer independent, confidential and impartial guidance for a range of concerns, including but not limited to perceived discrimination or harassment. The Ombuds will listen to your concerns without judgment and explain the options or approaches you have available to address them.  Options can range from informally addressing the issues, reporting the incident to the MPSA or, given the nature of the complaint, pursuing a complaint with an outside entity such as  state or local government, human rights or law enforcement agencies, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or the U.S. Office for Civil Rights. The Ombuds cannot provide legal advice but can offer support and guidance even if no further action is taken.

Consultation with the Ombuds is confidential. The details of any a conversation between an MPSA event participant and the MPSA Ombuds is kept confidential to the extent allowable by law, and will not be reported to any administrator, officer, or committee of the MPSA.  The only exceptions to confidentiality are when the Ombuds believes there is an imminent risk of serious harm.  In those circumstances, the Ombuds will disclose information to an appropriate entity in order to protect the individuals from harm. The Ombuds is entirely independent of any other MPSA structure, resource or complaint process. The Ombuds will not keep any written records of complaints or consultations. The Ombuds can be reached at or by asking for assistance from conference personnel. In the event that the Ombuds is involved in or has a relationship with any party to the dispute, the Ombuds will be recused after contacting another Ombuds to address the issue.

Contacting the Ombuds

How to Contact the Ombuds, Year-Round

The Ombuds is available at any time during the year for appointments by phone or video call and can be reached at for scheduling.

MPSA Ombuds Office Hours at the MPSA Conference

The MPSA Ombuds will be available to meet with attendees at the annual conference each year. Please check back closer to the conference for Ombuds office hours, room location and a link to sign up for an appointment in advance (walk-ins are also welcome).

Meet the MPSA Meeting Ombuds

Tyler Smith serves as the MPSA Ombuds. He also provides full-time ombuds services as a contractor for the National Institutes of Health, where he previously worked as an Associate Ombuds from 2014 to 2019. In late 2021, he returned to the NIH after serving as the University Ombuds at Northeastern Illinois University, in Chicago, IL, for nearly two and half years. Before starting his career as an ombuds, Tyler spent several years working as a mediator, facilitator, and conflict resolution trainer at The Bosserman Center for Conflict Resolution in Salisbury, MD. He is an active member of the International Ombudsman Association, the Coalition of Federal Ombudsman, and holds an M.A. in Conflict Analysis and Dispute Resolution from Salisbury University.

Sarah Klaper was named Northwestern University’s first university ombudsperson in August 2021. Prior to opening the office at Northwestern, Sarah served as the University Ombudsperson at Northern Illinois University for nine years. Sarah’s background is in law. She was an instructor of Legal Analysis, Research, and Communication at DePaul University College of Law in Chicago. She also taught School Law and State and Local Government. Sarah also practiced mainly public interest work for many years, most recently at the Citizen Advocacy Center in Elmhurst, Illinois, where she focused on open government work and community organizing around issues such as the First Amendment, the Open Meetings Act, and the Freedom of Information Act. The principles of fairness and equity have guided Sarah throughout her career.

International Ombudsman Association Code of Ethics

The MSPA Ombuds adheres to the International Ombudsman Associations Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice which are as follows.


The International Ombudsman Association (IOA) is dedicated to excellence in the practice of Ombuds work. The IOA Code of Ethics provides a common set of professional ethical principles to which members adhere in their organizational Ombuds practice.

Based on the traditions and values of Ombuds practice, the Code of Ethics reflects a commitment to promote ethical conduct in the performance of the Ombuds role and to maintain the integrity of the Ombuds profession.

The Ombuds shall be truthful and act with integrity, shall foster respect for all members of the organizations they serve, and shall promote procedural fairness in the content and administration of those organizations’ practices, processes, and policies.

Ethical Principles

Independence – The Ombuds is independent in structure, function, and appearance to the highest degree possible within the organization.

Neutrality and Impartiality – The Ombuds, as a designated neutral resource, remains unaligned and impartial. The Ombuds does not engage in any situation which could create a conflict of interest.

Confidentiality – The Ombuds holds all communications with those seeking assistance in strict confidence, and does not disclose confidential communications unless given permission to do so. The only exception to this privilege of confidentiality is where there appears to be imminent risk of serious harm.

Informality – The Ombuds, as an informal resource, does not participate in any formal adjudicative or administrative procedure related to concerns brought to his/her attention.

For more information on the International Ombudsman Association Code of Ethics, please visit:

More information from IOA