The SBA has appointed Esther Vassar as its new national ombudsman replacing Nick Owens, who previously served as NCUA external affairs director and special assistant to former NCUA Chairman JoAnn Johnson.
Vassar, who started in her new role on Aug. 3, will also serve as the SBA's assistant administrator for regulatory enforcement fairness. She most recently served as commissioner and chair for Virginia's Alcohol Beverage Control Board.
Established in 1996, the ombudsman office assists small businesses when they experience excessive or unfair federal regulatory enforcement actions, such as repetitive audits or excessive fines and other unfair actions by a federal agency, according to the SBA. The office also works with more than 35 federal regulatory agencies including the NCUA to resolve complaints.
Owens served as ombudsman from March 2006 through Jan. 20, which was the last official day for all previous SBA appointees, according to SBA Spokeswoman Carol Chastang. Deputy Ombudsman Marty Gold served as the agency's acting ombudsman until Vassar was appointed.