ombudsman building

Office of the Ombuds

113 Duhring Wing / 236 S. 34th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6273
Phone: 215.898.8261



Lynn Hollen Lees
Professor Emeritus of History


Dr. Lynn Hollen Lees was appointed Ombuds for the University of Pennsylvania on July 1, 2014.

A faculty member at Penn since 1974, Dr. Lees is Professor Emeritus of History in the School of Arts and Sciences, where she has taught primarily in the fields of British history, European social history, and world history. Dr. Lees also spent time as an exchange professor at University College London, Catholic University of Leuven, and the University of Diponegoro in Indonesia.

A distinguished scholar of British and European urban history, Dr. Lees is a past President of the Urban History Association. Her research centers on European cities, their social organization, and their welfare institutions. In British history she has published Exiles of Erin: Irish Migrants in Victorian London and The Solidarities of Strangers: The British Poor Laws and the People, 1700-1948. Her book, written with Paul Hohenberg, The Making of Urban Europe, 1000-1995, traces long term changes in European urban networks and social organization. Dr. Lees' interest in world history has produced Global Society: The World since 1900 (written with Pamela Crossley and John Servos). She is currently studying British sugar and rubber plantations in Malaya in an effort to understand the growth of a colonial society in Southeast Asia.

Dr. Lees served as Vice Provost for Faculty from 2010 until 2013, chaired the Department of History for two terms, and was co-director of the Lauder Institute from 2002 through 2010.

Dr. Lees received her bachelor's degree with High Honors from Swarthmore College, and her masters and doctorate degrees from Harvard University.

Associate Ombuds

Marcia Martínez-Helfman, JD, MSW


Marcia Martínez-Helfman joined the University as Associate Ombuds in July 2011. To this role, she brings over 20 years’ experience in conflict resolution and human resources leadership in a broad range of business settings, including healthcare, financial services, technology, and non-profits. Ms. Martínez-Helfman received her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and her Masters degree in Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis.

Ms. Martínez-Helfman is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Philadelphia Business Journal's Woman of Distinction Award and Fannie Mae's Chairman's Award. She was also selected as a Fellow of Robert Wood Johnson's Urban Health Initiative for her community service and leadership. Ms. Martínez-Helfman has had an extensive record of volunteer and community service throughout her professional career, having served in numerous leadership roles with nonprofit and civic organizations, including Congreso de Latinos Unidos, Finanta, the Hispanic Bar Association of Pennsylvania, and the Haverford Township Human Relations Commission. From 2013-2016 she was editor of The Independent Voice, the quarterly newsletter of the International Ombudsman Association. She joined the IOA Board of Directors in April 2017 and was elected President of the Association in April 2018.