IOA Advocacy Update

By Ellen Miller, IOA Executive Director 

For the past several months, IOA and our Advocacy Committee have been very busy. 

Following the filing of IOA's Title IX Comments last September, Advocacy Committee Co-Chairs Sarah Klaper and Mark Patterson, and I met with 10+ Congressional offices, including staff of the US Senate's Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, and the US House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce.  These meetings successfully raised awareness about the role of organizational ombuds and why ombuds should be considered confidential employees regarding Title IX and campus security.  The meetings were well-received and illuminating.    

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What makes an Ombuds function different?

By Doriana Vintila
Ombuds
PetrOmbudsman Department,

Ombuds have been around for quite a while now, in all areas of activity, either private or part of the public health or educational systems. However, from my experience of almost a decade since the opening of the Ombuds office in OMV Petrom, I feel that when people have a complaint, they still have a hard time deciding where to place it in their organization. This is because there are usually many functions in the same organization that deal with complaints, and there is more clarity needed on what each of them can do to help the individual. Most certainly, there are quite a handful of differences in the way Ombuds operate, as compared to formal functions.

This is the reason why our Ombuds team decided this year to film a short video, picturing our Ombuds Director and our company’s Compliance Director, as they answer some of the most frequently asked questions on how we conduct our activities. The result was a mirror interview between the Ombuds and Compliance Departments. Of course, this could be adapted and done as a mirror interview between Ombuds and any other function in an organization, be it HR, Legal, Trade Unions and so on.

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IOA Committee Updates November 2022

By IOA

At each IOA Board of Directors Meeting, our Committees & Task Forces submit a report about the progress they are making on their latest projects. Each group has been hard at work supporting our members and helping to advance the organizational ombuds profession. Please take a moment to read the latest updates from the last couple of Board Meetings.


Member Engagement Committee, November 2022

Our membership continues to grow and opportunities for members are growing as well. We are excited about the 2023 IOA Conference and are working to recognize our dedicated members in person at the volunteer recognition lunch as well as the Mentoring Program. We are committed to creating meaningful DEIB goals and action plans and will complete them by the end of the year. Currently, we are seeking new members to the Member Engagement Committee and if you are interested, or know someone who might be, please let us know!

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Call for Authors for IOA’s First Book

By Dr. Shannon Lynn Burton and Dr. Loraleigh Keashly

We are currently seeking authors for select chapters for the upcoming book: "The Organizational Ombuds: Foundations, Fundamentals & its Future."

Organizational ombuds first appeared in North America in the 1960s as an offshoot of classical ombuds practices rooted in Northern Europe. While there have been many publications that address organizational ombuds practice in the form of articles and journals (Journal for the International Ombudsman Association & The Journal of the California Caucus of College and University Ombuds), as well as publications that serve as legal guides to practice (Howard, 2010 & 2022), there has yet to be a comprehensive handbook that addresses the interdisciplinary and nuanced history, theory and practices found within the field.

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IOA Launches Book Publishing Program

By Ellen Miller

The International Ombuds Association is pleased to announce the launch of our Book Publishing Program to support the ombuds field. Our first book, The Organizational Ombuds: Foundations, Fundamentals & its Future, is a handbook edited by Dr. Shannon Lynn Burton and Dr. Loraleigh Keashly and will be published in time for IOA’s 2024 Annual Conference. We are currently seeking authors for several chapters. 

Book Publishing Project

A Note About Mistreatment and Organizational Protective Factors

By Mary Rowe,

I am writing a note after listening to a number of Organizational Ombuds (OOs) these past few months. Several OOs report cases characterized by verbal attacks that seem unusual: employees who intimidatingly refuse an order, unafraid of being accused of insubordination. Undergraduates who loudly and insultingly reject faculty rights to set the requirements and rules in a college classroom. Students who insult the race or religion or ethnicity of staff and faculty and visitors to their school. Senior managers who loudly express bitter hate for each other. Visitors who insult their ombuds and their organization for having an ombuds. Bullying that is ratcheting up to being totally unacceptable.

Several OOs have noted that the nation is losing many professionals, for example those who no longer wish to serve as teachers, nurses, doctors and other caretakers. 

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Cookies and Conversation with the Ombuds: CSUSB Ombuds Engages Community on Ombuds Day 2022

By Twillea Evans-Carthen, 
University Ombuds Officer, Director of Ombuds Services
California State University, San Bernardino,

California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB) celebrated Ombuds Day 2022 by creating a creative approach to have students, staff, faculty, and community celebrate their campus ombuds by stopping by the office of Ombuds Services to meet the campus ombuds, learn about the program, and have a conversation over cookies with the ombuds. The Ombuds informed the community how each year on the second Thursday during the month of October, people from around the world take time to 

celebrate the role of the Ombuds. The CSUSB Office of Ombuds Services celebrated this year by recognizing and bringing forward the 2022 theme: Ombuds: Resilience, Respect, Resolve.

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Are You an Outsourced Ombuds? Probably!

 

Outsourced ombuds fulfill many roles including working with organizations to help them think through the benefits and costs of establishing an ombuds office. They serve as independent, impartial, informal, and confidential resources for visitors. They also support ombuds offices to work with visitors when cases are up and staffing is down, help define the impact of an ombuds office through reimagined annual reports, and discuss difficult cases with their ombuddies.

Many ombuds serve as consultants to ombuds and ombuds offices. If this applies to you, then you’ve been an outsourced ombuds! In addition to the activities above, outsourced ombuds lend their experience and expertise in the following ways:

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Call for Papers: The Ombudsman System: New Challenges and Perspectives

 The Ombudsman Berlin University Alliance (OBUA) has published the call for papers, "The Ombudsman System: New Challenges and Perspectives." 

With this special section of Science and Public Policy, we wish to highlight the need to further engage in (meta-)research on the Ombuds system. We call for contributions on both current research and research application to the subject and aim for an international perspective.

 

Visit their website for more information.

First Southwest Ombuds Symposium: 2-day event allows community of ombuds professionals to learn from each other

By Ish Baki, Americas Ombudsman - Mars,Inc.,

Attendees at the Southwest Ombuds Symposium, hosted by Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Ombuds Office, met at the Laboratory’s Dorothy McKibbin Conference Center in Santa Fe on Aug. 25 and 26.  The Symposium brought together 19 attendees from across New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado. "The group has been meeting virtually approximately once per month since 2020," said Cindy Mazur, the Lab’s Ombuds manager. "By the end of 2021, we felt the strong need to meet in person, hence the decision to plan a symposium."

Ethics and Audit Division Director Rachel Schroeder kicked off the first day of the event. The day also included an address from the featured speaker, Chief Justice Emeritus of the Navajo Nation Robert Yazzie. Chief Justice Emeritus Yazzie led with a discussion of the Navajo tradition of peacekeeping. "The Navajo principles, which bring resilience to the life of everyone, align with that of the work of organizational ombuds as impartial peacemakers who work toward building relationships and trust when people feel harmed or hurt," said Elisa Enriquez, senior associate ombuds at the Lab. Other activities included an opportunity for the attendees to share similarities and differences in how they do their work, and discussion around common challenges and best approaches to the work ombuds do.

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Highlighting the 2022 Practice Survey Report

By Jennifer Schneider, Mary Rowe, Tim Hedeen, and Hector Escalante, IOA Practice Survey Sub-Committee

IOA recently released the 2022 Practice Survey Report. The data shared in the report were gleaned from IOA’s Practice Survey, which was administered back in the spring. The report includes information about participants’ organizations, caseloads, issues, services and accomplishments.  

The 2021 calendar year brought many unique challenges that affected the work of ombuds. The IOA Practice Survey team added items that addressed the effects of COVID on ombuds work with visitors and with their organizations. These data suggest that over half of the most serious cases managed by ombuds were related to the pandemic. Concerns around work/life balance, return to work or school, safety and flexibility consumed much of the ombuds time during that year.

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The Ombuds Journey: The Culmination of 30 Years of Public Service

By Phyllis Coven,
Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman
The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman

My road to becoming an ombudsman was a long one and the more I learn about being an ombudsman, the more I see that it is really the culmination of my 30 years of public service working in the immigration arena.

My journey started when I worked as an attorney for the territory of American Samoa and later the California Department of Justice, where I was exposed to cases (both big and small) and how outcomes impact lives. I then was privileged to serve as a deputy associate attorney general for the U.S. Department of Justice, working as the liaison to the former U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). My understanding of the complexities of operating the immigration system was deepened in my next job as director of international affairs at INS where I was responsible for asylum, refugee, and international office operations.

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The Most Serious Cases Reported by Organizational Ombuds: Data from Surveys and Interviews

By Mary Rowe, Timothy Hedeen, Jennifer Schneider, and Hector Escalante,
Practice & Compensation Sub-Committee of the IOA Research & Assessment Committee


Why Are Data about the Most Serious Cases (MSC) Important to Organizational Ombuds?

MSC have several important characteristics:

1)    The most serious cases in an ombuds office entail high potential costs—and major gains or losses of possible benefits—for all constituents involved in these cases, including their organization. The value of the organizational ombuds (OO) office is sometimes very apparent, for constituents and the organization, after an OO helps to identify, assess, and help to manage a serious case.




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Gratitude: One Year Anniversary of Sandia Ombuds Office Re-launch

By Ronnie Thomson,
Corporate Ombuds - Sandia National Laboratories

Have you ever felt the excitement of a new adventure plus the doubts of whether you’re ready? What is the purpose of that internal voice murmuring doubts? Perhaps it’s a catalyst to bring your best self, pursue excellence, and watch the beauty of the adventure unfold. Or maybe that catalyst is spurring you to ask for support. Upon the one-year anniversary of the Sandia Ombuds Office Re-launch, I am reflecting on my current adventure with its mountain-top highs and valley lows, plus the pursuit of excellence and the support I have found. I’m hoping that my sharing this reflection will be of help to you.

Beginning at the Trailhead 

The Sandia National Laboratories Director re-launched and chartered the Sandia Ombuds Office to again provide the workforce with an independent, informal, impartial, and confidential resource. Admirably, the Labs Director even made suggestions to strengthen the agreement before he signed it. Sandia’s Chief of Staff located options for the construction of the office in Albuquerque, NM, established the budget, and supported my launch plan which included my own orientation to a whole new world of premier research and national security with a targeted soft launch for virtual and phone visits during the pandemic. For the first few months, my husband remained in Texas as I navigated my new surroundings working at a military base for the first time in my career, having no colleagues working anywhere close to my temporary office (a bit lonely), and house shopping at the peak of a low inventory, high priced market.

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The Ombuds Journey: Tips as You Embark Upon Your Journey

By Kazmere Duffey,
Ombuds Specialist - Los Alamos National Laboratory

My name is Kazmere Duffey. I am from Long Beach, California, which is known not only for its beautiful beaches but also as one of the most diverse cities a person may live in or visit. I currently reside and work in Los Alamos, New Mexico. I am an Ombuds Specialist at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

I have an AA in communications, a BS in human services, and an MA in negotiation, conflict resolution, and peacebuilding.

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IOA Lobbying Update

By Ellen Miller, IOA Executive Director


UPDATE: September 2022

IOA Lobbying Update - Title IX Comments and Upcoming Congressional Meetings

IOA filed comments with the US Department of Education on their proposed amendments to Title IX this week. Phase 2 of our advocacy efforts to advance Organizational Ombuds will begin next week when we start meeting with US federal lawmakers. IOA retained a D.C. lobbying firm to help inform our strategy. Our goal is to educate key members of the US House and Senate about Organizational Ombuds generally, the role you play in the campus security landscape, and why confidentiality is critical to your work.

Stay tuned for a briefing post-lobbying. Want to get involved in IOA’s Advocacy Committee? 




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The Organizational Ombuds Reader - Call for Nominations

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

Dear Colleagues,

The IOA Research & Assessment Committee will be developing The Organizational Ombuds Reader with an anticipated publication date during 2023. This Call for Nominations has been revised in the hope of soliciting articles that fall within the scope of organizational ombuds. In the first call for nominations, we recognized that it was not specific enough to the needs of the members of the International Ombuds Association.

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5 Tips for Submitting a Successful Speaker Proposal for IOA Conference

By IOA

The Deadline to Submit for #IOA2023 Is Monday, 17 October 2022!

Female presenter speaking to a room full of conference attendees

The International Ombudsman Association warmly invites you to submit a presentation proposal or speaker suggestion for our 18th Annual Conference, Ombuds as Change Agent? ReEngaging and Transforming Conflict. Our in-person conference is scheduled for 3–5 April 2023 in Seattle, Washington, USA. 

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JIOA Call for Submissions: The Ombud’s Office and Diversity, Inclusion, Equity and Belonging

By Jennifer Swan and Shannon Burton
JIOA Special Issue Editors

Dear Colleagues,

The events of the past two years have brought issues of Social Justice front and center in the United States. Visitors bring concerns related to the complex issues of identity, marginalization, and inclusion impacting their lives in both the workplace and in the classroom. Shepherding the resulting conflicts generates challenges as ombuds strive to stay neutral while considering the impact of social justice on conflict management.

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Join a Focus Group to Help IOA Create a Code of Conduct

By Ellen Miller, Executive Director of IOA

Updated 15 August 2022

The IOA Ombuds has provided upward feedback that our organization may benefit from the creation of a code of conduct for both members and those who participate in association activities. IOA leadership has begun the process to create such a document, but we are only in the drafting stages and need your help.

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