Joan C. Waters joined Columbia University as University Ombuds Officer in April 2014. A native New Yorker, she earned her undergraduate degree from Fordham University (Bronx, New York) and she earned her juris doctorate from St. John's University School of Law (Queens, New York). Joan’s legal career started in civil litigation and management-side labor and employment work in private practice and local government in Westchester County, New York. During her legal career, she was also the managing partner and then sole proprietor of a small family law and residential real estate law practice with a particular focus on mediation and collaborative law. Immediately prior to joining Columbia, Joan served as an Associate General Counsel in the Office of the General Counsel at The City University of New York with responsibility for all aspects of higher education policy and legal issues.
In 2001 and again in 2008, Joan was elected to serve as the Village Justice for the Village of Sleepy Hollow, presiding over the weekly docket of civil, criminal, small claims and vehicle and traffic matters, as well as, bench and jury trials. For the period 2011 and 2017, Joan served as an elected school board trustee for the Pocantico Hills Central School District in Pocantico Hills, NY. Currently, Joan serves as a Board Trustee for Xavier High School in Manhattan. Since joining Columbia, Joan has become a member of the International Ombuds Association (IOA), has obtained Certified Organizational Ombuds Practitioner (CO-OP) status from the IOA, has become a Certified Trainer in Workplace Conflict Resolution from the Mediation Training Institute at Eckerd College and has earned an ICI Columbia Coaching Certification from Teachers College, Columbia University. Joan lives in Westchester County with her husband, daughters and rescue dog, Mia.
"It’s my intention to be visible, approachable, and open, with the hope to make people comfortable seeking assistance.”