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Services and Benefits

Services we provide

When you are unsure and want a safe place to speak about your concerns the Virginia Tech Office of Interactive Communication & Empowerment (VOICE) may be able to be of service by helping you find your voice in a situation.

Think of Ombuds as a Swiss Army Knife. If you’re familiar with those handy little knives there’s a variety of practical tools packed into them. Similarly, the Ombuds Office will assist members of the university community in an informal and independent environment where ombuds staff listen, offer information about policies, resources, and procedures, and help people examine options for resolving concerns.

The following is not an all-inclusive list but a sample of the services the Ombuds will assist members of the university community with:

  • Listening without judgment
  • Being a sounding board
  • Acting as a confidant
  • Offering information about policies, resources and procedures
  • Helping individuals better understand and identify their issues & interests
  • Assisting individuals in examining options for resolving concerns
  • Offering informal mediation & facilitated conversations
  • Working with teams to build better interpersonal relationships
  • Providing trainings, workshops & offering keynotes at team retreats
  • Offering feedback to administrators, leaders, supervisors and managers
  • Making suggestions for orderly and responsible systems change

About Reese

Reese believes the following about the nature of conflict and those in our Hokie community that reach out to him for coaching:

Photo of Reese
  • Conflict is normal. Without it there wouldn’t be breakthroughs in our interactions. What’s not healthy, and what we want to avoid, is getting stuck when break downs in communication, misperceptions and a sense of disempowerment arise.
  • There is nothing wrong with you. You are naturally resourceful, creative and, like all of us at different times, in need of coaching and someone to help you navigate through your situation.
  • When you work with Reese you set the agenda and you decide your own course and action plan for managing the situation.
  • His agenda is crystal clear: He wants to add more value to your Virginia Tech experience than what you may currently be experiencing because of the challenge you’re dealing with.
  • Nothing ever stays the same. As challenging as the conflict you’re dealing with is, everything is a season and the situation you are in does not define you as a person. 

About Serena

Photo of Serena Young

    Serena Young brings over 22 years of leadership experience to the Virginia Tech University Ombuds Office. She is an active member of the International Ombuds Association (IOA) and the Mid-Atlantic Ombuds Network (MAON). Serena joined the University Ombuds Office in January 2020 as an administrative assistant. Her strong desire to learn and practice as an ombuds led her to complete over 2 years of on-the-job training which consisted of extensive hours of job shadowing and participating in joint visitor consults, facilitations, and team assessments.

    Serena is a certified mediator through Mediate University having completed a specialized 40-hour course in mediation. She has also completed a 4-day intensive Ombuds training  entitled “Foundations” thru IOA.

    Serena came to Virginia Tech from Cleveland State Community College where she also obtained her Associate of Science degree. In addition to her education, she has supplemented her specialized knowledge with multiple certifications in workplace mediation, diversity & ally trainings, and dispute resolution. She continues to grow in the field through continuing education and professional development opportunities.  

Benefits of working with VOICE to individuals and Virginia Tech

  • Your dilemma is confidential. This is because the Ombuds Office is a designated confidential and safe place to discuss your concerns. While there are very limited exceptions to confidentiality recognized by the International Ombuds Association’s Standards of Practice (such as issues that raise an imminent risk of serious harm to someone) the Ombuds will not disclose your conversations with others.
  • Productivity gains. The sooner you better manage your situation the sooner you feel better about the situation and can then focus your time & energy instead on the reasons that brought you to Virginia Tech (your career, your research, your education, teaching, etc.).
  • Savings in management time. If you’re a leader or supervisor then you know that dealing with conflict is time consuming and distracts from the goals and projects that also need your attention. Referring individuals and teams to the Ombuds Office can help you leverage our resource and save you time & energy.
  • Personnel savings and lowered attrition. When individuals feel their situation isn’t changing or that they don’t have much of an option they may simply quit prematurely. By exploring options that might help them create more breakthroughs those in the Hokie community might continue to stay and contribute to the growth and development of Virginia Tech.
  • Increase in morale. When people feel listened to, and they better manage conflict by becoming informed of their options and taking appropriate action, there is a natural increase in positive emotions and well-being.
  • Supports Virginia Tech on its vision of Beyond Boundaries. Advancing Virginia Tech as an internationally-recognized, global land-grant and strategically addressing the challenges and opportunities presented by the changing landscape of higher education is not easy. Not that it is impossible, but any worth-while vision will encounter challenges as it is implemented. By providing systemic feedback to leaders campus-wide the Ombuds Office contributes towards Beyond Boundaries’ Strategic Priority of Ensuring Institutional Excellence.