IOA's Ombuds Program

Virtual Ombuds Services for the IOA Community

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IOA Members Seeking Ombuds Services

If you are an IOA member who would like to contact the IOA Ombuds, please use the confidential email: [email protected] or the phone number: +1 (503) 847-9854 to reach the IOA Ombuds, Breanne Taylor. 

If you have any questions about the IOA Ombuds please review our FAQ or reach out to the IOA office at [email protected].

Email the IOA Ombuds
Call +1 (503) 847-9854 (Please Leave a Voicemail)
View IOA's Ombuds Charter

Meet the Current Ombuds, Breanne Taylor

Breanne Taylor

Breanne Taylor has been an IOA member since 2013. She currently serves as Associate Ombuds at Oregon State University, working with faculty, staff, and students. Breanne is a certified administrator of the Conflict Climate Inventory, applying the tool to diagnose workplace conflict at a systems level. She is a professionally trained and experienced mediator who has been an active member of the California Caucus of College and University Ombuds (CCCUO) since 2012 and began serving on the CCCUO Board of Directors in 2017. 

Breanne is available by phone at +1 (503) 847-9854 and via email at [email protected]. She serves as an independent, neutral, off-the-record, and confidential resource for members of the IOA community to discuss any concerns you may have regarding your practice, the profession, IOA, or other related issues and concerns. She will be able to provide information and a safe virtual place for people to discuss their concerns in a confidential way to explore options for any further action. She will not be authorized to serve as a place where notice of claims can be given to the IOA. Likewise, she will not have the responsibility or authority to investigate any issues raised.

In addition to serving as a resource to assist individuals during this period, Breanne—without breaching the confidentiality of any communications by people using the services—will provide the IOA with feedback on the nature of issues raised and any insights or observations about systemic issues relating to the IOA.


IOA Ombuds Reports

Each year a written report is presented to the IOA Board of Directors about the Ombuds Program’s performance. The report provides insight into the value of the ombuds office, data about that year's cases, observations made by the ombuds, and considerations for the future. You can read the latest reports below. 

IOA 2020 Ombuds Report
IOA 2021 Ombuds Report

IOA Ombuds Frequently Asked Questions

How do I contact the Ombuds?
By Email: [email protected] to correspond by email confidentially and/or setup a phone or Zoom visit. 

By Phone: +1 (503) 847-9854. Please note that Breanne is located in the Pacific Timezone and speaks English. When leaving a voicemail, please indicate your timezone and/or the best time to return your call and phone number with country code, and any other details you wish to share. 

If you require ASL interpretation or another accommodation in order to communicate with Breanne, please share this information with Breanne so she may assist with making appropriate accommodations if possible.

Is the IOA Ombuds an organizational ombuds?
Yes. 

 What is an IOA Ombuds?
The IOA Ombuds acts pursuant to the Charter for the IOA Ombuds and adheres to the IOA Standards of Practice & Code of Ethics as an independent, neutral, informal, and confidential resource for people who would like to discuss ombuds profession-related issues or concerns.  The ombuds can assist a visitor in identifying or creating options for resolution, including referrals to formal channels with investigatory powers.  The ombuds may be able to provide effective and confidential assistance in addressing a visitor's issue or concern, but the ombuds is not, and is not intended to be a substitute for, anyone's lawyer, representative, or counselor.  The ombuds is not authorized to conduct formal investigations, determine facts or make business or policy decisions.  Because the IOA Ombuds is not part of IOA management, the ombuds is not authorized to receive notice of claims or complaints against IOA or its agents or representatives.

How does an organizational ombuds differ from a lawyer?
The organizational ombuds role is quite different from that of a lawyer, who is an advocate for their client and associated with more formal processes and the legal system.  An organizational ombuds maintains neutrality and impartiality when working with visitors and does not represent them.  Ombuds do, however, promote procedural fairness in the content and administration of an organization's practices, processes, and policies.  Though some organizational ombuds may have legal training and experience with issues of the law, they do not provide legal advice.

Is the IOA Ombuds the same as a Mediator? 
No.  While many ombuds are trained as mediators and often use mediation skills and techniques as one of many approaches to problem-solving and conflict management, the ombuds role is broader than and more connected to the organization than a mediator. A mediator is typically an outside professional focused on helping people solve a specific issue or problem as compared with the ombuds who has a broader scope of work.

 What sort of issues and concerns can be brought to the IOA Ombuds?
The IOA Ombuds can provide assistance with the full range of issues or concerns relating to their ombuds practice and the profession including, among others:

    • All types of identity-based concerns
    • Harassment (including sexual harassment)
    • Free speech and free expression
    • Integrity issues / Intellectual property / Research concerns
    • Conflicts of interest
    • Issues related to the IOA

 May I contact the IOA Ombuds for guidance concerning an issue I am having myself and also if I have a concern about others?
People may consult with the IOA Ombuds with a concern about a colleague or about something that affects themselves. 

Will my communications with the IOA Ombuds be confidential? Are there exceptions to this confidentiality?
Communications with the IOA Ombuds are considered confidential and will not be disclosed unless the ombuds determines that there is an imminent risk of serious harm or unless, in the course of their communications,  the visitor grants permission for the ombuds to make a disclosure and the ombuds determines that it is appropriate to do so.  

What authority does the IOA Ombuds have? What authority does the IOA Ombuds not have?
The IOA Ombuds serves as an independent, neutral, informal, and confidential resource for visitors to discuss any concerns they may have concerning their practice or the profession.  The ombuds will be able to provide information confidentially and will provide a safe place for people to discuss their concerns in a confidential way to explore options for any further action.  The IOA Ombuds, however, is not authorized to serve as a place where notice of claims can be given to the IOA.  Likewise, the ombuds has not been authorized to make business or policy decisions or to conduct any investigations on behalf of IOA.

Is the IOA Ombuds part of a formal complaint procedure?
No.  The IOA Ombuds is an informal and purely voluntary resource. No one is required to use it, but those who do will be deemed to have agreed to respect and abide by the principles on which it was created and not to call the Ombuds to testify or produce documents related to confidential communications in any administrative or legal proceeding. IOA has also agreed not to call the IOA Ombuds to testify or produce documents with respect to confidential communications in any administrative or legal proceedings.

Does the IOA Ombuds report to the IOA on issues they dealt with?
The IOA Ombuds—without breaching the confidentiality of any communications by people using the services—will provide the IOA with feedback on the nature of issues raised and any insights or observations about systemic issues relating to the work of the IOA. 


The History of IOA's Own Ombuds

The International Ombuds Association (IOA) is a worldwide professional association committed to supporting organizational ombuds. In December 2019, the IOA Board of Directors unanimously voted to launch a pilot program to find an appropriate Conference Ombuds. They started their search of an experienced organizational ombuds to provide this service to participants at IOA’s 15th Annual Conference 28 March–1 April 2020 in Portland, Oregon, and contracted retired ombuds, Elaine Shaw, CO-OP®. Unfortunately, due to constraints imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, the conference was canceled.

Following the cancellation, in April 2020, IOA began providing virtual ombuds services on a temporary basis to all members and others within the IOA community as people cope with the stress, uncertainty, and possible changes to their ombuds practice. This also supports the IOA’s mission of promoting the profession, providing service to all members, and setting an example for other professional associations.

The ombuds program proved successful and in July 2020, the Board unanimously voted to extend the pilot project for one year. On September 23, 2021, having confirmed success with the pilot IOA Ombuds Program, the IOA Board of Directors voted to establish a permanent IOA Ombuds Program.

In 2020, IOA President Melanie Jagneaux spoke with our own first IOA Ombuds, Elaine Shaw, in a #GoodDayIOA video. The video features an interview with Elaine talking about serving as a resource to members during the challenges of COVID times.

In July 2022, IOA welcomed a new ombuds, Breanne Taylor.