Our office includes Director and Ombudsperson Sara Thacker, Interim Associate Ombudsperson Julia Horvath, and Assistant Ombudsperson Evan Lutz. When contacting our office, Evan is the first person who will assist you in answering questions about our services and standards of practice, conducting intake, providing conflict coaching, making referrals, and scheduling appointments. Sara or Julia then meets with employees to listen to their concerns, problem-solve, and explore a range of options that help facilitate resolution.
Sara Thacker is the Director of the Staff Ombuds Office at UC Berkeley. She holds a J.D. from the University of Iowa College of Law and a LL.M. in conflict resolution from Georgetown University Law Center. Sara is a self described “recovered attorney” having found more progressive ways to resolve disputes after working for several years as a litigation associate at international law firms. In addition to serving as the Staff Ombudsperson for campus, Sara developed a new ombuds services program for Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and served as the Laboratory Ombudsperson from 2010 to 2014.
Prior to joining the Staff Ombuds Office, Sara served as an Adjunct Professor and Hewlett Fellow in Conflict Resolution and Legal Problem Solving at Georgetown University Law Center where she taught courses in negotiation, mediation, and multi-party dispute resolution. Sara is a certified mediator and has mediated cases for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the DC Office of Human Rights. As an experienced mediator, she also worked with the Department of Energy to create a pilot Mediation Support Advisor program to prepare employees for mediation and improve the productivity of the process.
From 2011-2014, Sara served on the International Ombudsman Association (IOA) Board of Directors, the largest professional association for organizational ombudspersons. She previously co-chaired the IOA Communications Committee and has presented at annual conferences for organizational ombuds on various topics, including mediation, advanced ombuds skills, and data collection and analysis. Sara is the author of two articles on organizational ombuds, including Good Intentions Gone Astray: How the ABA Standards Affect Ombudsmen [PDF], Journal of the International Ombudsmen Association, Vol. 2, No. 1, (2009) and Where Are the Ombuds? [PDF], The Independent Voice, Vol. 1, Issue 5, (2006). She has also given public speaking presentations regarding cultural considerations in conflict resolution, the role gender plays in mediation, and alternative careers in the law. In her spare time, Sara can be found on her yoga mat or eating her way through the Bay area.
Julia strives to be of service to UC Berkeley staff. Over and over she has helped individuals tap into the creative power of self-determination: when people are given time to reflect, they are able to develop and implement the solutions that work best for them. She is proud to work in an office that maintains a safe space for staff to address their workplace concerns.
Prior to joining UC Berkeley, she was an international research scholar at University of New Mexico Staff Ombuds Office, where she combined her passions for research, mediation and training. She has an extensive training in facilitative and transformative mediation and co-trained seven 40 Hour Basic Mediation Trainings internationally. Over the past 4 years, Julia has mediated in the private sector, higher education, civil court and victim-offender programs. She is passionate about identifying and communicating the value of the organizational ombuds work and has presented her research at the New Mexico ADR Symposium and the Partners for Hungary Mediation Conference.
Julia holds a Master’s Degree in Organizational Psychology from Budapest University of Technology and Economics in Hungary and was awarded the Julius Rezler Alternative Dispute Resolution Scholarship. Julia is currently pursuing a CPCC certification by the International Coach Federation. She is also a member of the International Ombudsman Association (IOA) and a Certified Organizational Ombuds Practitioner (CO-OP).
Julia speaks Hungarian and has received an intermediate certificate in Russian. In her free time, she likes to plan her next trip to further explore the world.