Office of Ombudsperson



Upon action by the Board of Directors, the President of the American Society of Mammalogists has instituted the Office of Ombudsperson, with the individual, or individuals, so appointed to serve to hear and to respond appropriately to complaints of unprofessional behavior by any member of the ASM at its annual meeting or in the governance of the ASM through its committee structure. Selection of appointees and duration of appointment are the prerogative of the President.

Two individuals, Enrique P. Lessa (Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de la República, Montevideo 11400, Uruguay) and Jessica E. Light (Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843) have been appointed for the current year. Selection criteria emphasized the possession of common sense, sensitivity to gender and minority issues, discretion, seniority within the ASM, possession of the respect of the membership in general, and a willingness to serve.


Creation of the Office of Ombudsperson in itself is meant to discourage any and all inappropriate behavior on the part of the membership of the ASM, and all issues brought before either (or both) of the appointed individuals will be resolved as discreetly as possible. The Ombudspersons are entrusted to deal with each situation as they best see fit.

Reporting incidents of potential misconduct.

ASM Officers appoint 1 or 2 Society members to the Office of Ombudsman. The Ombudsperson(s) are charged with reviewing and adjudicating allegations of misconduct occurring in the context of Society activities and events. Complaints of misconduct must be presented directly to an Ombudsperson. Allegations must be made in writing by the victim of alleged misconduct occurring within the context of Society events or Society sponsored activities.

The Ombudsperson(s) may discuss the incident with the complainant, then with the alleged offender.  Further investigatory steps may include – but are not limited to – interviewing persons named as witnesses as well as reviewing documents and other evidence supporting the complaint and/or justifying the alleged offensive behavior. Throughout this process, confidentiality will be honored to the extent possible and as necessary not to impede the ongoing operation of the Society.  

Disciplinary action

The Office of the Ombudsman shall ensure the delivery to the alleged offender of the charge(s) of misconduct and shall inform that individual as to the availability for review of all evidence supporting the charge. This includes, but is not limited to, details of incidents, transcripts of messages, and signed statements from witnesses. These steps will be completed prior to any hearing before the Ombudsperson(s).

After review of the complaint and evidence and interviews of witnesses, and after hearing the positions of the accuser and the alleged offender, the Ombudsperson(s) will determine whether misconduct occurred. If the Ombudsperson(s) cannot agree that misconduct occurred or if they determined that no misconduct occurred or that disciplinary action is not required, no further action will be taken.

If the Ombudsperson(s) determine that misconduct occurred, they shall state their decision and establish the disciplinary measures to the accuser and to the offender. The determinations of the Ombudsperson(s) can be appealed to the Society President within 20 calendar days following the determination. Thereafter, the President shall review the evidence and the record of the Ombudsperson(s) and may confer with other Officers of the Society to determine whether to affirm, reverse or alter the determination of the Ombudsperson(s). The President’s decision shall be final and not subject to appeal. If the associated disciplinary actions include expulsion, barring attendance from and/or voting at the annual meeting and/or exclusion from eligibility to serve in an elected Society office or on a Society committee, these actions must be ratified by a 2/3 vote of the Board of Directors.