About Us

Our Mission

The mission of the Office of the Ombudsperson is to facilitate cooperation and consensus through methodologies related to education, negotiation, and mediation. The Office seeks to engender awareness and skill development in the areas of conflict resolution, communication, team building, and civility. In a neutral and impartial role, our Office assists all members of the University community in problem solving and the resolution of complaints, while coordinating programs and promoting alternatives to adversarial processes. Our Office aims to ensure civil and equitable treatment for all students, faculty, and staff by providing awareness of university policy and procedure and recommending appropriate institutional action or change. The office of the Ombudsperson provides an independent, neutral, informal, and confidential service for all members of Georgia State University.

  • Confidential - Acting only with the complainant's permission, so the fear of retaliation is diminished; the issues presented to the Ombudsperson remain in confidence unless visitors authorize a release of information. The Office of the Ombudsperson may also choose to maintain confidentially solely for itself to support trust in its function within the university community.
  • Independent - Responsible to the provost and vice president of academic affairs
  • Neutral - The Ombudsperson is not an advocate for any particular individual or group, but considers the rights and interests of all parties and advocates for a fair resolution of concerns
  • Informal - An additional option to the formal grievance; services rendered by the Office of the Ombudsperson do not replace the Georgia State University grievance process

Kelley Alexander, MSCM, Student/Staff Ombudsperson

Kelley Alexander

Kelley Alexander, MSCM, is the Student and Staff Ombudsperson. Her experience includes over 20 years of consulting with businesses, working with non-profit organizations and managing and coaching employees using conflict and change management strategies. Kelley is a certified mediator with the Georgia Office of Dispute Resolution and a member of the Association for Conflict Resolution. In her role as Ombudsperson, she uses mediation, coaching and facilitation processes to assist individuals and groups with managing workplace conflicts.

Kelley holds a Master's Degree in Conflict Management and is a member of the International Ombudsman Association (IOA). She facilitates workshops related to conflict management and resolution, communication, and collaborative group and team processes.



Dr. Valerie I. Fennell, Ph.D., Faculty Ombudsperson

Since 1998, ValValerie Fennellerie Fennell has served as Faculty Ombudsperson for Georgia State University. In 2005, she retired from teaching with the Anthropology Department but continues as the Faculty Ombudsperson part-time. As a member of the University and College Ombudsman Association and The Ombudsman Association, she trained by taking workshops to develop her skills as an organizational ombudsperson. Since the merger of these groups into the International Ombudsman[person] Association, she has remained a member. She has also been certified as a mediator with the Georgia Office of Dispute Resolution.

Valerie received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from theUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1974. Her research has always focused upon hierarchical aspects of age and gender organization in human communities. In 1992, she received an M.A.in clincal psychology from the Fielding Institute in Santa Barbara, CA, training that is, along with her cultural anthropology background, beneficial in her work as an ombudsperson.

In addition to working with visitors to the Office of the Ombudsperson, Valerie has taught seminars and trainings for the GSU community on the these topics; cultural awareness and sensitivity, civility and conflict resolution, bullying and mobbing in the workplace, new faculty challenges, communication styles and issues, and diplomatic and non-violent communication.


Tahirih Varner, MSCM, Assistant Ombudsperson

Tahirih Varner is the Office Coordinator and provides information to students to assist with financial aid concerns, grade disputes and other student concerns.

Tahirih Varner

She has years of community development experience in a myriad of diverse settings. From directing character-building programs for children and youth on First Nations reservations in Canada to helping to bridge racial and socio-economic divides in Zimbabwe, Lesotho and South Africa, she has dedicated her time and energy over the past few decades to sustainable community development work that seeks to empower both the group and individuals to function harmoniously.

Tahirih has a Master of Science Degree in Conflict Management and focuses on helping students improve communication and conflict resolution skills through workshops, trainings and one-on-one sessions.


Every problem has a gift for you in its hands.

~ Richard Bach


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