The Foundations Course

Our Most Popular Course, Designed For New Ombuds

The Foundations of Organizational Ombudsman Practice course is offered multiple times each year in various locations, and now, online!

The course is designed for new practicing organizational ombuds and covers the fundamentals of the organizational ombuds role based on the principles of confidentiality, impartiality, independence, and informality. The course is taught by an experienced and highly committed faculty of ombuds who will share best practices around running an effective office as well as evaluating and communicating the effectiveness of that office. Each in-person course is three full days. Each online course is segmented into five days. To ensure a meaningful and connected experience, each course is limited to 24 participants.

Participants will learn how to work with visitors; how to act as a change agent within an organization; and how to practice the key ombuds skills of listening, asking questions, clarifying, generating options, and moving to actions throughout the ombuds process.

Learn more and find out if this course is right for you below.

Introducing Virtual Foundations Courses

In Fall 2020, IOA launched a virtual version of our most popular course. Virtual Foundations offers attendees the chance to learn from the comfort of their own home or office. This five-day course offers attendees the chance to engage in a group online via Zoom (synchronous learning) in addition to self-driven online work (asynchronous learning) through the IOA’s Online Learning Center. 

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Is Foundations the Right Course for You?

Who should attend?

The course is designed for recently appointed ombuds. Its objectives are to help new practitioners: 

  • Recognize the dimensions and parameters of the organizational ombuds role
  • Reflect on their own personal relationship to the role
  • Develop basic skills to perform the role effectively
  • Learn best practices
  • Identify resources to learn more
  • Build a community of practice

As a result of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Recognize key characteristics and skills of effective ombuds.
  • Apply the ethical principles of confidentiality, impartiality, independence, and informality.
  • Use new strategies to build trust and show compassion with visitors.
  • Demonstrate impartial listening techniques, including how to paraphrase, reflect, and reframe.
  • Analyze visitor issues to identify positions, related feelings, and underlying interests.
  • Better assist visitors in exploring and defining options.
  • See the interdependence between how ombuds serve visitors and serve the organization at large.  
  • Align the ombuds function with the overall vision, mission, goals, and values of the organization. 
  • Work more effectively with organizational leadership.
  • Address common challenges to conveying the value and impact of ombuds work.
  • Appreciate the uniqueness and complexity of the ombuds role. 

This course is also beneficial for anyone desiring to enter the ombuds profession or establish an ombuds function within an organization. This course applies to ombuds programs in organizational settings. (Ex. industry, government, education, and public or private social services agencies). It does not address some features unique to other models of ombuds practice, such as classical, advocate, or legislative.

Other Resources & Related Courses

If this course is not quite what you are looking for. Take a moment to review the list of other helpful resources and tools below. 


IOA Foundations Course