The heart of any ombudsman's office is the staff that takes complaints, investigates them, and provides the services necessary to allow that to happen. Here's a brief introduction to Alaska's O Team:
Jennifer Christensen is an assistant ombudsman in Juneau. Before joining the Ombudsman's office in 2008, Jennifer was self-employed as a contract attorney from 2004-2008, and also spent several years in private practice. She received her law degree from Gonzaga University School of Law and is currently licensed to practice law in Alaska. She enjoys reading, gardening, and spending time with her family and friends.
Denise Duff is an assistant ombudsman in Anchorage. She has lived in Alaska for 38 years and worked in state government for 15 years. Denise loves the outdoors. She and her family spend almost every weekend in the summer camping, and she serves as assistant coach in her local Little League. She spends winters ice fishing, being a hockey mom, and enjoying other outdoor activities.
Megan Gosda is the Intake Secretary in Anchorage. She grew up in Oregon. The moment she turned 18, she moved to Fairbanks. After completing college, she and her husband moved to Unalaska, where she worked as a 911 dispatcher for six years and assisted with writing the police blotter. Megan is your quintessential cat lady, complete with fur covered sweaters and a book always at hand. In her spare time, she plays hermit in random places around the world and is pursuing her Master’s degree in Administration of Justice.
Kate Higgins is an assistant ombudsman in Juneau. Although born and raised in Alaska, she left in 1996 to attend college and law school. She received her law degree in 2007 from Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland OR and is currently licensed to practice law in Alaska. She enjoys spending time with her friends, family, and various pets, baking, reading, and listening to music.
Charlsie Huhndorf-Arend is an assistant ombudsman in Anchorage. A lifelong Alaskan, she has worked in state government for 10 years and has been with the Office of the Ombudsman since 2000. She enjoys gardening, camping, fishing, and spending time with her family.
Michael Jones is an Intake Assistant in the Anchorage office. He spent seven years in Kodiak before making his way to Anchorage, where he has lived for the past five years. He has worked as a carpenter, teacher, and with the Division of Public Health. He enjoys music, soccer, and spending as much time as possible enjoying the outdoors with family and friends.
Mark Kissel is an assistant ombudsman in Juneau and the office webmaster. He received a degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin Madison and worked on newspapers and magazines for several years. He has lived in Alaska since 1977 and worked for state government most of that time. He has been with the Office of the Ombudsman since 1996. His hobbies include dogs, tai chi chuan, and playing the guitar and bagpipes.
Beth Leibowitz is an assistant ombudsman in Juneau and is also the office legal specialist. She has been admitted to practice law in Alaska since 1997. She received her law degree from the University of Michigan Law School.
Linda Lord-Jenkins was appointed ombudsman in June 2002 and reappointed to a second term in 2007 and a third term in 2012. She had worked as an assistant ombudsman in Anchorage since 1989. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, she worked for 20 years as a journalist in Florida and Alaska before joining the Ombudsman's Office. Ms. Lord-Jenkins was editor of the Tundra Times newspaper in the 1980s and worked as the USA Today Alaska correspondent. She is married to Paul Jenkins and has three sons and two granddaughters. She enjoys working in the fiber arts and walking her dogs. She is a member and past President of the United States Ombudsman Association, the professional association for public sector ombudsmen.
Cate Remme came to Alaska in 1977 from northern California where she attended San Francisco City College and danced professionally with the San Francisco Ballet before making Anchorage her home. While working as a Consumer Advocate with the Alaska Public Interest Research Group (AKPIRG) she received the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Culture of Health award in recognition of her outstanding dedication and research in playground safety. Cate began her state service with the Department of Transportation in 2003 before moving to Alaska State Library's Talking Book Center. While at the Talking Book Center she was part of the team that was awarded the 2012 Governor's Denali Peak Performance Award for customer service excellence. She is married to a lifelong Alaskan and is a first time grandparent.
Linda Ritchey is the ombudsman intake officer in Anchorage. Originally from Wisconsin, she moved to Alaska in 1980 as a new bride. She loves everything about Alaska: fishing, camping, hunting, skiing, camping, and even the extreme weather! One of her favorite things is dipnetting red salmon on the Kenai. She and her husband raised two boys—both Eagle Scouts—who have also made Alaska their home. Before working for the ombudsman, she was employed in the insurance industry.
Tom Webster joined the office as assistant ombudsman in 1984. He left Alaska in 1989 to attend graduate school and returned to the office in 1993. From 1999 through 2000 he was associate ombudsman at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He returned to our Juneau office in December 2000 and has worked in Fairbanks since July 2002. Tom enjoys music, reading, hiking, and camping.
Dale Whitney graduated from University of Puget Sound School of Law in 1991. After working in private practice, Dale began serving as an Assistant Public Defender in Barrow in 1994, and later served as an Assistant Public Defender in Juneau and Sitka. Dale also worked for the North Slope Borough as a capital improvement special projects coordinator and special assistant to the mayor, and has served as an analyst in the Division of Insurance. Before coming to the Ombudsman's Office, Dale was a revenue hearing examiner and administrative law judge for ten years. When he is not in the office, Dale renovates homes and buildings in Juneau.