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IOA Rebranding - Member Feedback

The Way Forward: An Informed Design

In 2018, IOA partnered with Westfourth Communications to redefine the way we communicate about IOA as an organization and the Ombuds profession as a whole. From building foundational core messaging to establishing a mission statement, values, and tagline member outreach and member feedback have served as our roadmap to modernize the IOA brand. 

Here is a recap of the rebranding timeline to date:

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IOA Membership: Reaching New Milestones

We Now Have More Than 1,000 Members

By IOA

The International Ombudsman Association (IOA) is a member-led, professional association committed to supporting ombuds worldwide. Formed in 2005, we are one of the largest international associations of professional ombuds practitioners in the world, now representing more than 1,000 members across the globe. 

Learn more about the people who make up our association, where do they come from, and what their work looks like. 

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The Mirror and the Magnifying Glass

By Elaine Shaw
IOA Ombuds

The "mirror" and the "magnifying glass" are interesting metaphors for the work we do as Ombuds. We can be a mirror to our Visitors, reflecting back to them what we’ve heard them say; reframing their words and experience in a way that allows them to see differently, perhaps more clearly. Once seen, we can hold up a magnifying glass to detect and explore what’s there, bringing focus to overlooked details or the big picture. 

I’ve been thinking recently about Studs Terkel (1912-2008): writer, Radio broadcaster, and amazing listener; who famously asked Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “When did this dream first come to you?” I have been thinking about Studs because, in addition to being an inspiration for helping people share their stories, he worked at my favorite Chicago radio station when I was growing up: WFMT. His job title there: Free Spirit. For those who may have visited my LinkedIn profile, you may have seen that I shamelessly stole this wonderful job title. In these last several years I have enjoyed patching together a variety of gigs as a free spirit – choosing work that is interesting and fulfilling: Community Mediator (now virtual and via text messaging!); Conference/Contract Ombuds; Yoga Leader; Book Group Facilitator; Activist; Non-profit Volunteer, Musician; workplace coach, etc., etc.

Something I have noticed in these unusual months is how difficult it is for me at this stage of life to aspire to be neutral and impartial.  Indeed, serving as the IOA Ombuds and as a Bravely Pro, I have discovered that my “go to” response can sometimes feel more like advisor than objective third party. What experience, tool, book, exercise, process, suggestion, trick, tip, shortcut, hack can I come up with to match my Visitor’s need? But what is really going on here?

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August Member Dialogue Summary

An Update on the IOA Bylaws & Article of Incorporation Vote 

The IOA Board of Directors wishes to extend its sincere appreciation to all of the IOA members who participated in the two Member Dialogues on August 12 and expressed their viewpoints and concerns. IOA member involvement and passion in support of the profession in this association are central to its identity and essential to its ongoing relevance and success.

The August Member Dialogues were created to intentionally engage members in an important discussion concerning potential changes to its organizational structure. The membership was called to express their concerns and opinions and the membership answered that call. Thank you.

More than 200 participants dialed into the Member Dialogues to discuss proposed changes to the IOA Bylaws. Recordings of the Dialogues have been added to the IOA Online Learning Center (member login required).

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Executive Director Chuck Howard to Retire

Search for New ED to Launch Soon

Dear IOA Members,

We write to let you know that our Executive Director, Chuck Howard, will be retiring from his position effective 31 December 2021.

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IOA 2021 PDC Needs Assessment Survey

Help Shape the Future of IOA Education

By Susan Casino & Alicia Booker, Professional Development Committee Co-Chairs

Photo of Presenter Pointing to a Bulletin BoardIf you missed it, we wanted to remind you that it’s time again for an IOA Training Needs Assessment Survey. This is your opportunity to share ideas on additional training that you believe should be part of our current training library.

We encourage you to review the current list of trainings found on our Online Learning Center before completing the survey. We find that we regularly point members to these trainings as many are not aware that these amazing resources already exist. Our library of more than 30 recorded webinars is available to all members free of charge.

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An Ombuds Journey: A magical ombuds journey

By Ion Anghel,
Director PetrOmbudsman Department, OMV Petrom

Greetings from Romania! My name is Ion Anghel and since 2018 am the head of the ombus office of OMV Petrom. Because I really believe in sharing experiences, I hope my story will inspire you. So, let’s begin…..

I'm an oil and gas engineer. I was and still am passionate about this profession and even now if I had to choose which college to attend, I would choose the same thing. I consider myself one of the lucky people who combined passion with work, and that allowed me to gain almost 33 years of experience with OMV Petrom (OMV Petrom is a Romanian integrated oil company, part of Austria's OMV company. It is one of the largest corporations in Romania and the largest oil and gas producer in Southeast Europe). I had the opportunity to go through various professional stages from executive positions to top management positions and to make some important choices in my career. 

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COFO Annual Conference 2021: Call for Presentations

By Paul Sotoudeh, Chief Ombudsman, USPTO Office of the Ombudsman

The Coalition of Federal Ombudsman (COFO) is pleased to announce its 2021 Annual Conference, being held virtually on October 15, 2021, and COFO’s Conference Committee is now accepting proposals to present at the conference.

The Annual Conference is focused on the needs of ombuds practitioners serving in the federal government, but the day is always an ombuds-wide family affair and we welcome anyone either practicing as an ombuds or interested in ombuds to join us as an attendee or presenter. Registration is free, and the conference typically draws around 200 attendees from across the ombuds profession and broader ADR community.

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CO-OP® Inactive Status Update

One-Time CO-OP® Amnesty Program
Apply for Inactive Status Today


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Member Dialogues on the Proposed Amendments to the IOA Bylaws & Articles of Incorporation

Members Are Invited to Share Their Thoughts & Questions

All IOA members are invited to participate in one of two Member Dialogues focused on the proposed amendments to the IOA Bylaws & Articles of Incorporation.

These dialogues will provide a space for members to discuss the proposed Bylaws changes, provide input, and ask questions of the IOA Board of Directors. The meetings will include small group discussions to encourage meaningful conversation. 

The Member Dialogues are identical in format and purpose and will follow the same agenda. We will begin in a large group with the same opening remarks, then move into the small breakout groups for 40 minutes. Each breakout group will be facilitated by a board member, who will capture the notes of the discussions and share highlights with the large group when it comes back together. 

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An Ombuds Journey: My experience in the office of a classical Ombudsman

By Abdul Hassan Sesay,

I was not the Ombudsman, but I had a passion for helping people in distress and I was able to utilize this when I worked as an investigator and later principal investigator in the office of the ombudsman Sierra Leone.

The question on how someone becomes an ombudsman varies from country to country and from organizations. With my experience in the office of a classical ombudsman, here are examples of what I found to be the process for appointment. When I visited the Justice Ombudsman’s Office in Stockholm, Sweden in 2011, I came to realize that there are two sets of ombudsmen in Sweden. The Justice Ombudsman is also called the parliamentary Ombudsman and he is elected by Parliament with a two third majority. You also have the executive ombudsman who is appointed by the prime minister. However, in most African countries the Ombudsman is appointed by the president and approved by parliament. I have not had the opportunity to work as an organizational ombudsman whose appointment might be different from those mentioned above.

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The Organizational Ombuds Reader - Call for Article Nominations and Reviewers

By Shannon Lynn Burton, Ph.D., University Ombudsperson, Michigan State University
&
 
Shereen Bingham, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, University of Nebraska Omaha, 

The IOA Research and Assessment Committee will be developing The Organizational Ombuds Reader with an anticipated publication date during 2022.

Edited by Dr. Shannon Lynn Burton and Dr. Shereen Bingham, The Organizational Ombuds Reader is a collection and bibliography of the scholarly pieces considered to be the most influential in organizational ombuds practice published since the 1960s. The purpose of the Reader is to serve as a resource for ombuds scholars and practitioners wanting to learn more about the field.

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15 July 2021 Special Member Meeting Summary

Updates from the Special Meeting

Thank you to all members who voted by proxy or participated in today’s special meeting of the membership to discuss the proposed revisions to our organization’s Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation.

During the meeting, members raised procedural issues, which delayed the discussion of the motion to approve the changes to IOA's Bylaws. By the time the procedural issues were resolved, the time that had been dedicated for discussion had expired and the motion to vote was withdrawn. In the remaining few minutes, several members expressed views and asked questions. The Board will meet next Monday, 19 July 2021 to discuss how best to move forward.

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Comments on Bylaws Revisions from Chuck Howard

By Chuck Howard, IOA Executive Director

Photo of Charles HowardI am not an ombuds, but I have been a member of IOA in whatever category I was allowed to be since its inception. I have represented and worked with ombuds for more than 30 years, and I hope that my advocacy and admiration for ombuds and the work that they do has been apparent.

For the past two years, I have been privileged to serve as the Executive Director of IOA, and I have worked very hard to expand awareness of the ombuds role externally; and also, within IOA, I have tried to help it become a more effective association for the ombuds profession. I am keenly aware of the strong history of voluntarism within IOA but also keenly aware of the need for more professionalism in how IOA operates. Over the years, since IOA was so small, much of its work and decision-making has been conducted much like a committee of the whole. As IOA has grown—and especially if it wants to continue to grow—as a profession, that model of collective decision-making does not always serve the organization well. There is a Board of Directors for a reason—to provide leadership and guidance on difficult questions. 

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Toward A More Inclusive Future

Message from the IOA Executive Committee

Dear IOA Members,

We strongly encourage everyone’s participation in the upcoming Special Member Meeting on Thursday, 15 July to cast your vote on the proposed revisions to the IOA Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation. All votes matter and count toward the required quorum (and your chance to win prizes!). If we do not meet quorum (approximately 250 votes), regardless of the votes cast, the Bylaws will fail. 

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An Ombuds Journey: Transformative Mediator to Transformative Ombuds

By Kristine Paranica
University Ombuds - North Dakota State University

I was first introduced to Organizational Ombuds’ work during the years that I lead a community mediation center on another campus.  About 10 years ago, the faculty at that university had begun to petition to add the position of Ombuds.  In support of their effort, our Center helped to bring in the Ombuds at the University of Minnesota to educate the campus on the benefits of the Organizational Ombuds.  I found the presentations intriguing, though I was quite happy in my role directing the mediation center at the time, and so didn’t apply for this new position.   Unfortunately, the Administration did not take the role seriously, created road-blocks to confidentiality, and hired someone who had no experience in any of the skills required of an Ombuds.  They left after 9 months, ending hopes for an Ombuds.  

Three years later, our Center underwent budget cuts and Administration decided to gradually close the Center.  Shortly after we received that news, I was approached by North Dakota State University to apply for their first full-time Ombuds.  I was leery given my experience at the other university, so I asked many questions and realized that they had done their research and were doing this the right way.  I applied, and was offered the position. 

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JIOA: Call for Authors (Media and Book Reviews)

By Shannon Burton, PhD

Editor of the Journal of the International Ombudsman Association (JIOA)
University Ombudsperson - Michigan State University


Dear Colleagues and Friends of the JIOA,

The Journal for the International Ombudsman Association is seeking authors for media and book reviews! 

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Results of the Independent Review

Special Member Meeting for Bylaws Revisions Announced

In our roles as ombuds professionals and association members, it has never been more important to continue our advancement of standards and practices that strengthen IOA’s commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB).

As the world continues to grapple with some of its most complex and painful challenges, our pursuit of justice continues. This includes ensuring that we maintain fair and equitable processes for qualification, nomination, and election to the IOA Board of Directors.

In March of 2021, IOA's DEIB Task Force reported concerns regarding IOA elections IOA leadership took immediate action and approved an outside review of the nomination and selection process as it pertains to Board service. That independent review, conducted by the law firm of Ahmad Zaffarese LLC, recently concluded. The firm's report offers valuable, actionable insight and makes several recommendations the Board has been considering as proposed changes to IOA's Bylaws. These newly proposed changes are to be submitted to a vote of IOA members at a special member meeting to be held this July. Among the review’s findings are the following:

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An Ombuds Journey: Growth Within

By Janie Tanner,

Greetings from Texas! I am Janie Tanner and I currently work as a part-time contractor supporting the Chevron Ombuds organization. Prior to retiring from Chevron in 2016, I was a full-time Ombudsman for three years. Chevron kept me around for a total of 39 years and even now, years later, I have this great part-time opportunity. I know that I am blessed.

Most of my Chevron work background was in the Human Resources function as an HR Generalist role (15 years) to provide day-to-day HR support to a client group or as the HR Manager (10 years) to supervise and mentor other HR professionals. The HR Generalist role sometimes meant managing employee issues and finding workable solutions between parties. Mid-career, I transferred into Chevron’s Employee Relations department (8 years) and my responsibilities included conducting interviews, investigations, mediation, and leading facilitated discussions to find agreeable and workable solutions. In each of these roles, I was able to help employees and found great satisfaction in providing that service and support. In some of the employee issues, I was contacted by a Chevron Ombudsman as a resource or for counsel and the position always intrigued me.  

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IOA Ombuds Program Survey

Share Your Insights & Feedback

Dear Colleagues,

Nearly a year ago, in July 2020, the IOA Board of Directors unanimously voted to extend the IOA Pilot Ombuds Program for one year. As we are nearing the end of this term, our IOA Ombuds, Elaine Shaw, CO-OP®, has proposed a process for evaluating the effectiveness of the program. This process will provide support for the IOA Board’s decision-making about whether to continue the IOA Ombuds Program beyond the current agreement expiration in October 2021.

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