Sara Thacker, Director & Ombudsperson

Sara Thacker, Director & Ombudsperson (she/her)

Sara Thacker is the Director of the Staff Ombuds Office at the University of California, Berkeley. Sara holds a J.D. from the University of Iowa College of Law where she served as Business Manager for the Journal of Gender, Race and Justice.  She also has a LL.M. in conflict resolution from Georgetown University Law Center and a certificate in Brain-Based Coaching from the NeuroLeadership Institute. 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. 

Prior to joining UC Berkeley, Sara was 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 was certified as a mediator by the Virginia Supreme Court 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.  While at UC Berkeley, Sara developed a new ombuds services program for Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and concurrently served as the Laboratory Ombudsperson from 2010 to 2014.  

Sara has served on the International Ombudsman Association (IOA) Board of Directors, the largest professional association for organizational ombudspersons.  She also 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.  She is an IOA Certified Organizational Ombuds Practitioner (CO-OP).  

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) and is referenced in The Organizational Ombudsman:  Origins, Roles and Operations – A Legal Guide(link is external) and The Ombudsman Handbook:  Designing and Managing an Effective Problem-Solving Program(link is external). She has 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, she can be found hiking redwood forests or eating her way through the Bay area.