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Opportunities to be Published

By Ellen Miller, IOA Executive Director

The Ombuds Community has a variety of channels within IOA and outside of IOA to publish content about the profession and field:  

1.  Within IOA: 

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IOA Announces 2024 Trailblazer Award and President Award Recipients

The International Ombuds Association (IOA) is proud to announce the recipients of the 2024 Trailblazer Award and President’s Awards.

The IOA Board of Directors established the Trailblazer Award in 2022 for individuals who have devoted significant contributions to the organizational ombuds field over an extended period of time. Award recipients may have served as an organizational ombuds, but is not required to have served as an organizational ombuds to receive this Award.

The 2024 recipient is: 

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ABA Passes Early Dispute Resolution in Support of Ombuds

By Liz Hill

The American Bar Association (ABA) has taken significant steps to enhance the ombuds profession by passing Resolution 500 at its recent Mid-Year Meeting. This resolution encourages the informed and voluntary use of Early Dispute Resolution (EDR), emphasizing its efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Resolution 500 urges lawyers and stakeholders to employ party-directed, non-adjudicative methods such as direct negotiation, mediation, and ombuds services for conflict resolution.

The American Bar Association (ABA) House of Delegates unanimously approved the resolution spearheaded and drafted by ABA Section of Dispute Resolution (ABA DR) EDR Committee’s current and former Co-Chairs Ellie Vilendrer, Felicia Harris Hoss, and Mary Cullen as well as our very own ombuds colleague Meg Willoughby, Co-Chair of the ABA DR Ombuds Committee. 

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Good Day IOA: CO-OP® Certification updates

Learn about recent collaborations of the IOA and CO-OP® Boards of Directors, an exciting new Ombuds Program Certification proposal, and upcoming changes to the existing individual CO-OP® certification.

Shared Services Canada Special Report on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging

By Alexandre St-Jean (il, he), Ombuds

Office of the Ombuds | Bureau de l’ombuds | Shared Services Canada | Services partagés Canada

In April 2023, SSC Office of the Ombuds presented at the International Ombuds Association Annual Conference in Seattle. Their session entitled: “Being a Change Agent for Diversity and Inclusion Using Data and Change Management Methodology” looked at the experience of equity-seeking employees at SSC.

While the research report was not yet published during the IOA Conference, it is now available! In June 2023, SSC’s Ombuds published their report: “Uncovering the human experiences behind the numbers: Deep dive into diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging at Shared Services Canada”.

They received 1,060 responses to their anonymous questionnaire and heard stories from over 100 employees during their discussion series.

The report highlights positive experiences and inclusive practices. It also shines a light on instances of exclusion, discrimination, and harassment. It provides a well-rounded perspective that goes beyond counting answers and shares the personal stories of individuals who:

• Don’t fit the majority narrative
• Face barriers in a system that wasn’t built for them
• May unfairly be viewed as the problem

The office’s hope is that the report’s findings will serve as a foundation for meaningful dialogue and strategic planning. And ultimately that supports SSC in creating a more inclusive and welcoming work environment.

Good Day IOA: CO-OP® Updates

Executive Director Ellen Miller and CO-OP® Board President Mollie Berg discuss the CO-OP® certification process and updates for the certification program.

 

New JIOA Article: BELONGING: The Feeling That We “Belong” May Depend in Part on “Affirmations” 

This essay by Mary Rowe describes a poignant concern brought to the ombuds office that helped me to understand how micro-affirmations are a major part of the scaffolding of “belonging.”

About the JIOA

The Journal of the International Ombuds Association (JIOA) is a peer-reviewed online journal for scholarly articles and information relevant to the ombudsman profession. As members of a relatively new profession, we continually strive to understand, define and clarify the role and function of the professional organizational ombuds.

The JIOA will help foster recognition that what we do for our agencies, corporations, colleges, and universities is worthy of study. While we must vigorously protect the confidentiality of our interactions, we can still study and be studied to understand what we do and how we do it; what works well and what doesn't work; what our options are; how social, technical and legal changes may impact us; what the profile and career development of ombudsman professionals might be, and other matters of interest.

The JIOA can facilitate a greater interest in ombudsing, enhance our professional standing, and serve to give us a better understanding of our dynamic roles and the impact on our institutions and agencies. The Journal also will allow IOA members, other ombuds, and other professionals to reach out to their colleagues with their ideas, research findings, theories, and recommendations for best practices and to engage in ongoing discussions of critical issues.

Call for Papers and Panels — The Ombuds: Foundations, Best Practices, and Development

Proposal window: 12 December 2023 - 12 January 2024

The Annual Symposium of the Centre for Informal Dispute Resolution (CIDR) at Saint Paul University — The Ombuds: Foundations, Best Practices, and Development — will be held on 6-7 May 2024, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada and simultaneously online. The 2024 symposium is organised in collaboration with the Office of the Ombudsperson at the University of Ottawa. This international event will bring together practitioners and researchers in conflict resolution and the ombuds field from many global regions to discuss the evolution of ombuds practice.
The Ombuds role is increasingly crucial amid growing organisational complexities, demands for inclusivity and diversity, and the need for early and more effective conflict mitigation. In an era emphasising fairness, transparency, and ethical conduct, ombuds act as an independent, impartial, and confidential resource in supporting all stakeholders. This event aims to offer meaningful discussions and opportunities for researcher-practitioner collaboration in all ombuds practice areas.

We invite panel and paper proposals in English or French on ombuds practice and related topics in Appropriate Dispute Resolution (ADR). Our goal is to foster collaboration between researchers and practitioners, and to disseminate knowledge on the ombuds role and the value of ADR. Proposals from experienced professionals, new ombuds, other ADR professionals, and university students aspiring to pursue careers in practice are encouraged.

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Good Day IOA: IOA in Europe

IOA Board of Directors held its October board meeting in Europe. Our strategic plan calls on IOA to identify ways to increase the participation and engagement of international members across IOA to bring more inclusion to our programs, leadership, and strategy. Watch as members of the international ombuds community report on this special event.

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From MIT: Mary Rowe’s 50 Years of Service to MIT and the Organizational Ombuds Profession

Mary RoweIt’s been a noteworthy year for Mary P. Rowe, an Adjunct Professor of Negotiation and Conflict Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management and a member of the faculty of the MIT Institute for Work and Employment Research (IWER). February 2023 marked the 50th anniversary of Rowe’s coming to work at MIT as the “Special Assistant to the President and Chancellor for Women and Work”—a role that soon evolved into being an early organizational ombuds, listening to all kinds of workplace concerns, from both men and women, throughout the Institute. Rowe ultimately served for 42 years as an MIT ombuds.

Read More on MIT's Website

California Travel Ban Lifted

We are thrilled to learn that California has lifted its travel ban, opening the door for those who work for the State of California to attend upcoming IOA conferences. Read more in a recent article from thehill.com.

Newsom signs bill ending California travel ban to states with anti-LGBTQ laws

"A California law banning publicly funded travel to states with laws that discriminate against LGBTQ people is no longer active under legislation signed Wednesday by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom.

California’s Senate Bill 447, also known as the BRIDGE Project, officially repeals a 2016 law that prohibited the state from sponsoring travel to states with laws in place that discriminate “on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.”

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Good Day IOA - Professionalization Task Force

Watch as IOA Executive Director Ellen Miller, IOA President Alicia Booker, and IOA President-Elect Sarah Klaper give updates on the new Professionalization Task Force as it kicks off.

Paradise Burned From Marshall Israel, Member


PARADISE BURNED. 106 DEAD, 1000 UNACCOUNTED FOR WITH 2,200 HOMES DESTROYED IN HAWAII FIRE.

Destroyed buildings and cars are seen in the aftermath of the Maui wildfires in Lahaina, Hawaii on August 16, 2023. The number of people known to have died in the horrific wildfire that leveled a Hawaiian town reached 106 on August 15. 

As the death toll in Hawaii reached 106 on Monday, the Hawaiian blaze solidified its position as the deadliest American wildfire in 105 years having surpassed the 2018 Camp Fire in California that caused $16.5 billion worth of damage and killed 85 people. More than 2,200 structures have been destroyed or damaged by the fires – about 86% of them residential. Losing everything including your home and loved ones is something I can't wish my worst enemy. 

I attended the 40th United States Ombudsman Association Conference in Honolulu Hawaii in 2020. I made friends who took me to Waikiki Beach and Maui Lahaina and it was awesome. I took the attached pictures at Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii, United States. As I watched in the news, the ravaging fire wagging and spreading its demonic tongue and consuming whatever it touched, I remembered my friends and Colleagues in Maui Lahaina, Hawaii. Though I have lost contact with many of my friends and Colleagues, I am standing with them in this moment of grief, pain, and loss. I am thinking of them and praying for safety and comfort.

I remember ALOHA which is the true meaning and symbol of the Hawaiian culture and lifestyle: respect and love one another, and live in harmony with everything around you. Aloha is not something that is spoken, it is something that must be experienced. I experienced it in Hawaii.  In Christianity, ALOHA means “breath of God be upon you.” It's kind of like saying, “May God bless you.” It means you do something kind without expecting something in return.

My dear Friends and Colleagues in Maui Lahaina and the Hawaiian Ombudsman, please accept my sympathy and condolences. My prayers, thoughts, comfort, and support are with you…and may the BREATH Of GOD BE UPON YOU. AMEN.

ALOHA,

Marshall Israel

Ombudsman, Mediator, Peace-builder and Reconciliator

IOA Seeks New Association Ombuds

IOA is seeking applications for a new Association Ombuds. This position reports to the President and Executive Director and works in accordance with a charter and IOA Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics.  
 
We are grateful to current IOA Ombuds Breanne Taylor for her excellent work the past year.  Breanne decided to step down given a change in her current work responsibilities.

The Ombuds must be able to create a schedule to accommodate approximately 10 hours a month of work. IOA will provide a calendly link to facilitate scheduling and an email address for follow-up.
 
View the Request for Proposal (RFP) for more information and application instructions. Please feel free to reach out to IOA's Executive Director Ellen Miller with any questions. 

RFP Deadline: 28 September 2023 at 5:00 PM PT



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Microsoft and Zoom: Possible Implications for Ombuds Confidentiality

By Board Member Sue Diviney and IOA Executive Director Ellen Miller 

If you use Microsoft Teams and Outlook in your work with visitors, we have discovered a possible concern for your office.  Using Teams can create visibility for both the visitor and others in their department given how Teams tracks users.    

How can you see if this is an issue for you?

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The I in IOA

IOA is an international association dedicated to advancing the profession of organizational ombuds. Our mission is our guidepost, yet as a small volunteer-driven association, we recognize that our size, structure, and limited staff have all impacted our ability to advance the organizational ombuds profession globally. 

Our International Outreach Committee (IOC) has done a wonderful job identifying needs of the international community and has made a series of recommendations to the IOA Board of Directors. In response, the Board has established a special Task Force to develop a plan to implement the IOC recommendations and strategic priorities. The Internationalization Task Force will also consider the resources required to support your work and assess the value of creating a pilot regional project that would create a model for growing the profession. 

This special Task Force will begin its work in August and report back to the Board in the first quarter of 2024. We are grateful that this effort will be co-chaired by Immediate Past President Ronnie Thomson at Sandia National Laboratories and Sam Zhou at MARS. If you are an IOA member practicing outside the U.S. or have experience working to expand awareness about organizational ombuds in the international space and would like to join this group, please reach out to Ellen Miller at [email protected].   

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The New IOA Concern and Complaint Policy

By IOA

We are pleased to roll out the final process piece of our culture work: the new IOA Concern and Complaint Policy and Procedures which were approved by the IOA Board of Directors at their July meeting. Both the policy and procedures will be piloted for the next 18 months so we may benefit from both utilization and experience.   

Concern and Complaint Policy and Procedures

This has been a long journey. First, we realized we couldn’t consider conduct before we articulated the culture we wanted to create. We also realized we needed to articulate that how we treat each other matters. Perhaps obvious especially to ombuds, but critical to ensuring we are all operating with the same frame. After focus group discussions with members in 2022, it was clear we needed to start with organizational values (based on the values detailed in our Code of Ethics for practice) and community norms. After gaining community input, we rolled out new Values and Norms that guide all our interactions. 

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A Message from IOA: 2024 & 2025 Conference

A Message from IOA

As a profession committed to fairness, we appreciate hearing from members about holding annual conferences in Indianapolis for IOA2024 and Miami for IOA2025. And as an international organization, IOA is always trying to balance a variety of potentially competing needs that our members may not be aware of. We hope it is helpful to share some information that impacted IOA’s decisions to contract with hotels in Indianapolis and Miami to host our conference as well as information about hotel contracting generally:  

  • IOA's conference location is determined by a number of factors including what cities are willing to bid on our conference and if we have been to that region in the last five years.  

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Ombuds Day 2023 Proclamations – Call for Volunteers

Our 6th annual recognition of Ombuds Day is coming up on Thursday, October 12, 2023 and the planning committee is seeking proclamations from all 50 states and Washington DC, and obtained over 30! View the list of the proclamations.

To support this work, “Ombuds Day 2023 Proclamation Request-a-thon” is scheduled for August 7-11, 2023. Volunteering for this effort is a great way to create awareness and improve understanding of the ombuds profession. It’s also a great way to meet and connect with other ombuds across the nation. If you’re interested and short on time, you can skip to the bold text below.

Process-wise, some ombuds requested proclamations from their local states, but most of the proclamations were requested by a team of volunteers. The Ombuds Day Subcommittee prepared templates that could be used for requesting proclamations across the nation, as well as instructions for how to request proclamations. To further simplify the process, the Subcommittee held request-a-thons, or scheduled dates and times for volunteers to work together by completing and submitting proclamation requests during video conferences. It worked well last year, so we’re bringing it back this August!

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Advocacy Committee Update

Advocacy Committee Update:  

Our Advocacy Committee is hard at work preparing resources members can use across sectors to help advocate for ombuds offices in their organizations. These include:  

1) An IOA Organizational Engagement “Triage” Template

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