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Salazar will bring familiarity of campus to new employee ombuds role

Grand Valley's inaugural employee ombuds will bring a familiarity of campus, its people and its policies when stepping into that new role February 1.

Elisa Salazar, work-life consultant for Human Resources, was named employee ombuds following a national search. Salazar began working at Grand Valley in 2017.

The co-chair of the search committee, Tonisha Jones, associate professor of criminal justice, said there was a strong and diverse candidate pool, adding the committee felt Salazar demonstrated strong knowledge of the role and how it can help meet the challenges higher education faces.

"Elisa's education, work experience and professional training will allow her to effectively engage with university employees from a wide variety of backgrounds, cultures and viewpoints, as well as work with university leadership to address identified areas in need of change," Jones said.

Elisa Salazar headshot
Elisa Salazar will begin working as employee ombuds on February 1.
Image credit - University Communications

As employee ombuds, Salazar will report to President Philomena V. Mantella. The position furthers one of the commitments from the Network of Advisors for Racial Equity, which Mantella announced in June. 

Salazar said the position description matched her professional background and work passions. She earned a bachelor's degree in social work from Hope College and two master's degrees (social work and communications) from Grand Valley. A Holland resident, Salazar has worked in special education, juvenile justice, mental health and substance abuse counseling. 

In her current role, Salazar has led restorative justice circles, built relationships with Faculty/Staff Affinity groups and other campus networks, and educated faculty and staff on work-life services. She said she has gained a great appreciation for how work-life balance impacts a person's wellness.

"I'm humbled and honored to be selected for this role," Salazar said. "I view this position as a lighthouse, a safe space for employees to come and seek guidance and resources. This is also an opportunity for me to offer thoughts on issues to university leadership."

Salazar's office will be in Lake Michigan Hall, room 133. Learn more about the position online at

Discussions about an employee ombuds have occurred on campus since at least 2013-2014. It will complement Takeelia Garrett's position as student ombuds. Garrett began working in that role in 2015.


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