Our Staff

 

Kristen Farrell
Office Manager

Kristen serves as the office manager for the Ombuds Office, providing scheduling and administrative assistance to staff and visitors. With a background in library services, higher education administration, and integrative health, she enjoys helping to support a caring campus community. You can contact Kristen by e-mail at ombuds@umass.edu.

 

 

Larry Hunt
Ombuds Team Member

Larry Hunt  is an ombuds with MWI and has worked as the ombuds for Amherst College since 2019, following a career as HR Director for Smith College, Tufts University, and the J. Paul Getty Museum and Foundation. He has taught as an adjunct faculty member of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst Management School. He regularly works with staff, faculty, and administrators in conflict coaching, facilitating conversations, mediating disputes, giving referrals and providing upward feedback to effect positive organizational change. Larry has spent his career helping people navigate their way through conflict situations. He brings extensive experience and a strong theoretical background in analyzing and mediating disputes at the interpersonal and organizational level. Larry completed the graduate certificate program in Conflict and Dispute Resolution at the University of Massachusetts, Boston and interned as a mediator in the court system. He was trained by the International Ombuds Association (IOA) in their Foundations of Organizational Ombuds Practice Course. He is an experienced executive and management coach and has consulted in this capacity and as a mediation and employee relations consultant for a wide variety of health care, education, and municipal organizations. Schedule a time to talk with Larry by sending an email to larry-ombuds@mwi.org or by calling 413-529-4035.

 

Derrick Johnson
Ombuds Team Member

Derrick Johnson is a member of MWI’s Outsourced Ombuds Panel and has served as an ombuds at Florida State College at Jacksonville since 2018. Derrick has worked in the areas of education as a manager of student services and counseling in substance abuse, juvenile justice, and vocational rehabilitation, for over 15 years. Derrick is an experienced service professional in the educational field who has partnered with students, parents, faculty, staff and administration to offer superior quality services in assisting stakeholders with navigating their academic, and social conflicts. After spending over a decade working in education and counseling, background informs his work as an ombuds, namely, to assist visitors and help clients develop policies and processes that continue to build equality among program stakeholders. Derrick is completing a Doctoral degree (Ed. D.) in educational innovation at the University of South Florida. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Georgia Southwestern State University and a master’s degree in education counseling from Albany State University in Georgia. Schedule a time to talk with Derrick by sending an email to derrick-ombuds@mwi.org or by calling 904-800-9946.

 

Lea Occhialini, J.D. 
University Ombudsperson

An attorney and expert mediator, Occhialini has extensive experience as lead campus ombudsperson, including most recently at Holyoke Community College, where she established and led the Office of the Ombudsperson and served as the college’s chief culture officer. Previously, she worked as ombudsperson at Hampshire College and as a mediator/trainer in the Office of Equity and Inclusion at Smith College.

In addition to her time in higher education, Occhialini has experience as a contract ombudsperson and a court and community mediator through her work with The Mediation and Training Collaborative in Greenfield, managing the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Face-to-Face Mediation program at the district courts in Holyoke, Northampton and Greenfield. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Smith College and Juris Doctor degree from American University Washington College of Law.

Occhialini has advanced expertise with the International Ombuds Association Standards of Practice and is an accomplished trainer in areas including communication, conflict resolution, mediation, equity and inclusion, facilitation, group dynamics and team building. She is also well versed in state and federal employment law.

 

Birthe Reimers, Ph.D.
Ombuds Team Member

Birthe Reimers, Ph.D.  is the 2023 recipient of the Association for Conflict Resolution’s William J. Kreidler Award for Distinguished Service to Expanding Knowledge in the Field of Conflict Resolution. Birthe is an ombuds, mediator, coach, and published conflict scholar-practitioner with 16 years of experience in the field. She earned her Ph.D. in International Conflict Management from Kennesaw State University in 2015 and has been an ombuds as well as a member of the International Ombuds Association since 2016. Since January 2018, she has been directing the Office of the Ombudsperson at Georgia State University, the largest public university in Georgia. In this role, Birthe serves as a confidential thought partner, conflict coach, and facilitator of challenging conversations for administrators, faculty, staff, students, their family members, and alumni across seven campuses. She provides upward feedback to university leadership about systemic and structural challenges and trends in the campus climate and organizational culture to support positive change at the university. Birthe also develops and facilitates conflict management-related workshops to empower and equip participants with key analytical and applied tools to engage in conflict constructively. Much of her conflict management work has intersected with DEIB efforts, drawing on her own experiences as a German national living in the United States and her formal education in African American Studies and International Conflict Management. Schedule a time to talk with Birthe by sending an email to birthe-ombuds@mwi.org or by calling 404-692-0505.