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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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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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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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Office Openings and Expansions: Nova Southeastern University’s Halmos College of Arts and Sciences (HCAS) Announces its First Ombuds

By Neil Katz, PhD

Responding to a recommendation of the HCAS Faculty Advisory Committee, Dean Holly Lynn Baumgartner has appointed Dr. Neil Katz to serve as the first Ombuds for the faculty and staff of the Halmos College of Arts and Sciences and the Guy Harvey Oceanographic Research Center’s seven departments at Nova Southeastern University’s main campus in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Katz will initially serve collateral duties while he maintains his faculty status as a member of the graduate Department of Conflict Resolution Studies (DCRS) offering masters and doctoral degrees.  The Ombuds will be guided by the IOA standards of practice as he consults with office visitors.

Neil Katz brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the new role including 50 years as a professor at five universities, 37 years of which were with the renowned Maxwell School of Syracuse University where he initiated several conflict resolution programs, served as Director of Training for the Executive Education Program, and conducted workshops for over 10,000 supervisors, managers, union leaders, and employees. In addition, he is the author or co-author of over 60 publications including several on organizational ombuds in higher education, the 600+ page ACUS report on The Nature and Value of Ombuds in Federal Agencies (2016) and three editions of the popular book Communication and Conflict Resolution Skills, which has been in print now for 37 years.  During his professional career in academia, he has received many accolades including the Martin Luther King Jr. Human Rights Award from the Syracuse community for career long commitment to principles embodied in Dr. King’s life and work, the Distinguished College Professor of the Year Award at NSU, and an Award for Distinguished Service to the Field of Conflict Resolution from the Association of Conflict Resolution.

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Ombuds Day 2022 Proclamations – Call for Volunteers

By the 2022 Ombuds Day Committee

 

We need your help! Please continue reading if you are interested in supporting our “Ombuds Day 2022 Proclamation Request-a-thon” scheduled for August 8th – 12th, 2022. 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.

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There's Nothing New About the 'New Normal' – Or Is There?

By Doriana Vintilă
Ombuds
PetrOmbudsman Department, OMV Petrom S.A.

Dear colleagues,

During the pandemic period, many organizations were surprised at how quickly their employees adapted to doing their jobs remotely. Psychologists told us that compared to other changes, this one was more easily accepted as it happened under a threat – that of an unknow virus we all needed to hide from.

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Call for Articles: Just Resolutions - ABA e-newsletter

By Shannon Lynn Burton, Ph.D., University Ombudsperson, Michigan State University

Dear Ombuds Colleagues,

I am writing to solicit articles for the September 2022 Just Resolutions e-newsletter.  This edition centers on the work of ombuds and it would be wonderful if we had a number of individuals interested in writing!

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OmbudsLinked - An Independent Channel for Ombuds Engagement

By Elizabeth Hill, J.D., CO-OP®
Associate Director, Ombuds Office at the University of Colorado Boulder

Greetings! In October 2021, Caroline Adams, Jenn Mahony, and I established a LinkedIn Discussion Group called OmbudsLinked. It is an independent forum, not affiliated with any of the ombuds associations. The purpose is to create space for all types of practicing ombuds regardless of model, sector, standards of practice, etc. to congregate, network, share information and ideas, build camaraderie, and unite the profession. It is also a closed group, which will hopefully allow members to speak freely without judgment or scrutiny of individuals outside the ombuds profession. Accordingly, members must be invited by a member or request to join. The group administrators monitor the requests to join.


What does the engagement look like?

Each week the administrators, Caroline Adams, Rob Behrens, Elizabeth Hill, and Jennifer Mahony, offer the following:

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Deliberating Dilemmas: Coverage of Services in the Face of a Conflict of Interest

By Bryan Hanson, EdD

Ombudsperson, Graduate School at Virginia Tech
Independent Voice Blog Editor

What should a single-person ombuds office do when a member of their community contacts the ombuds office about a matter, but the ombuds determines that they have a conflict of interest in working with that individual? 

An inquiry of just this type was recently raised with the IOA by an individual that encountered that situation with their ombuds. In this case, the ombuds told the individual that they could not provide assistance to them. The Ombuds apparently did not explain the basis for the conflict of interest nor suggested any other means to provide assistance to the individual who considered themselves one of the constituents served by the ombuds office. The individual contacted IOA because they thought that the ombuds may have acted improperly and wanted to raise the issue with the IOA. Since the ombuds involved in this situation is not COOP certified and there is no relevant procedure for investigating the conduct of non-certified IOA members, it was established there is no basis for the IOA to become involved. 

The dilemma presented in this case surely is not unique. While it is likely not appropriate in most situations to disclose to an individual the basis for the conflict of interest, is there nothing that the ombuds can do to help an individual receive assistance? Because this may be a recurring problem for single-person ombuds offices, we thought we would offer a suggestion here that an ombuds may want to consider and invite IOA members to suggest other possible options. 

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Mary Rowe Provides Access to Wealth of Digital Resources

This week brings forward our need to reflect on those things we are grateful for in our lives. As I reflect on what I am grateful for in my professional capacity, I would like to extend gratitude for all of those that helped shape the ombuds profession and contributed to the development of skills to help fulfill this role. Specifically, I am thankful to Mary Rowe for her work over the years and for taking on the effort to digitize and provide access to her professional papers.

You can now review the archives of her papers in an easy to search database created by the MIT library.

The digital collection is available here:

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Call for Nominations: The Organizational Ombuds Reader

By Shannon Lynn Burton, Ph.D. & Shereen Bingham, Ph.D.,

Dear Colleagues,

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

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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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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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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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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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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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JIOA Call for Guest Editors

By Shannon Burton, PhD

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

With the publication of Part I of the Journal for the International Ombudsman Association’s (JIOA) Special Issue on Sexual Harassment and Discrimination, the JIOA is looking at the potential for future special issues.  As part of this initiative, we are placing a call for guest editors.

Themes for which the JIOA is searching for guest editors:

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