Maria M. Odom was appointed Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security by Secretary Janet Napolitano in September 2012.
In this role, Odom leads the Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman. The Ombudsman’s Office is dedicated to improving the quality of citizenship and immigration services delivered to the public by providing individual case assistance, as well as making recommendations to improve the administration of immigration benefits.
To carry out this mission, Odom works with community leaders and immigration professionals across the country to understand current issues and explore solutions to problems faced by individuals and employers seeking citizenship or immigration services. Under her leadership, the Ombudsman’s Office serves as a visible, accessible and reliable resource to the community.
Odom came to the Department as a legal expert with a wide range of immigration experience in the government, private and charitable sectors. Most recently, Odom led the country’s largest network of charitable legal immigration programs as the Executive Director of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC). Odom practiced immigration law in the southeast for many years, leading a successful private practice dealing with defense from removal along with business and family-based immigration. Early in her career, Odom also served as Assistant District Counsel for the legacy Immigration and Naturalization Service and as a judicial law clerk at the Executive Office for Immigration Review.
Odom is a graduate of The Florida State University College of Criminology and the Mercer University Walter F. George School of Law. In 2010, Odom was honored with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters by the College of New Rochelle in New York.