COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The United States Olympic Committee today announced the hiring of Kathleen (Kacie) Wallace as the organization’s new athlete ombudsman.
Congress created the USOC athlete ombudsman position in 1998 to ensure that athletes have access to independent advice – at no cost to them – about the applicable provisions of the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act, and other laws, rules and regulations relevant to them. The ombudsman is also charged with mediating disputes involving athletes’ opportunities to participate in the Olympic, Paralympic, Pan American and Parapan American Games; world championships; and other protected competitions.
“America’s athletes deserve the very best and that includes the kind of independent advice they receive,” said Sarah Konrad, chairwoman of the Athletes' Advisory Council. “Kacie is a world-class attorney and mediator, and committed to doing right by the athletes. We couldn’t have found a better fit.”
Wallace becomes only the second individual to hold the USOC athlete ombudsman position following the retirement of long-time ombudsman John Ruger.
"I’d like to thank John for his commitment to fundamental fairness and athlete rights,” said USOC CEO Scott Blackmun. “The athlete ombudsman is incredibly important to the success of Team USA and I’m confident that Kacie will provide the kind of independent and professional advice that America’s elite athletes have come to expect. Kacie is smart, honest and straightforward, and I’m grateful that she’s agreed to take on this role.”
Blackmun continued, “I’d like to thank the Athletes’ Advisory Council for leading this search process and I look forward to our continued collaboration going forward as we seek to address the needs of Olympic and Paralympic athletes.”
A licensed attorney in North Carolina and a certified mediator, Wallace is a dispute resolution specialist with more than 21 years of experience as a crisis intervention counselor, arbitrator, negotiator and mediator. She is the principal of Interplay Resolutions, which specializes in mediation of a broad range of disputes, including personal injury, workers' compensation, contracts, harassment, employment, business, commercial and sports.
Wallace is also no stranger to the Olympic and Paralympic movements, having served as ombudsman at the 2011 Parapan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, and the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. In addition, she served as a crisis intervention specialist at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity and truly excited to continue to serve U.S. athletes as they work toward their goals,” said Wallace. “The amazing men and women who fight day and night to become Olympians and Paralympians deserve someone who will work just as hard on their behalf. I intend to do just that.”
Wallace is a professor of law and the director of the Dispute Resolution Institute at North Carolina Central University School of Law. She also teaches conflict resolution courses for the Baldwin Scholars at Duke University; Duke University – School of Law; the Duke-UNC Rotary Center for International Studies in Peace and Conflict Resolution, the Rotary Center at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand; and for private organizations and groups. Her teaching specialties include mediation, representation in mediation, communication and negotiation in personal, professional and legal contexts.
She earned a bachelor’s degree from Duke University, a Juris Doctor from North Carolina Central University – School of Law, a master of laws in dispute resolution from Pepperdine University – School of Law and a certificate in documentary studies from Duke University.
Wallace will relocate to Colorado Springs.