Reflections from #IOA2022: Herschenia Brown

By Herschenia Brown, MBA, CIHC, ADR, Owner of In Agreement Dispute Resolution, LLC

The experience that I had at the IOA 17th Annual Conference – “Belonging Together Reimaged” was unmatched! As my very first time attending the conference, there was an incredible amount of comradery, knowledge, information, and tools that I now have under my belt while I explore my career trajectory as an ombuds. With so many sessions to choose from, along with the opportunity to revisit the recordings, there was no stone left unturned. Also, from the comments during the Q&A sessions, many participants were eager to communicate in the near future to explore more questions outside of a session’s timeframe.

I have two absolute favorites I would like to share:

  1. Being that my background is in financial operations, accounting, and reporting, my absolute favorite session was “D3 – Reimagining Ombuds Reporting: New Tools and Techniques for Better Data Collection”, hosted by Chuck Doran, Megan Winkeler, and Colin Rule. As an aspiring ombuds, I have learned of different tools that people use in their practices to make the reporting as efficient as possible. However, from what I gathered from the feedback from the attendees, not enough reporting tools have features that capture specific critical data with full security and encryption measures that are critical to the core of the ombuds role. This session mentioned some effective reporting tools with this functionality and more! If you didn’t get the opportunity to attend this session, then it is definitely worth checking out.

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All Things Internship Task Force: Call for Volunteers

By Roy Baroff, CO-OP® and Steven Goodstein

The IOA Board of Directors recently approved a plan to create an All Things Internship Task Force (ATI-TF) to explore all things related to organizational ombuds internships including, among other topics, the creation of such programs, identifying existing internship programs, and collecting and developing materials for internship programs. IOA members are invited to participate in the task force.

The ATI-TF Relates Closely to Two of IOA’s Strategic Goals:

  • Goal 4 - IOA has a culture of diversity, equity, inclusion, and engagement. The ATI-TF would be a member-driven project that could create significant engagement opportunities, especially for new and aspiring ombuds who now make up a significant portion of IOA’s membership. Members would be supporting the creation of new opportunities for organizational ombuds work.

Roy Baroff and Steven Goldstein on behalf of the Membership Committee have volunteered to lead the development of this task force. Participants in the Task Force will ultimately select co-chairs to lead the ATI-TF, with final approval of the IOA Board of Directors. The task force will report to the IOA Board of Directors via a Task Force Board Liaison.

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Congratulations to 2022 Distinguished Emeritus Members

By IOA Nominating Committee

Each year, members are invited to nominate retired colleagues to be honored as Distinguished Emeritus members, in recognition of their outstanding and dedicated service to the organization and profession. This year, we had several such nominations for ombuds who have gone above and beyond. These esteemed members were recognized during the 17th Annual IOA Conference. Please join us in congratulating each of them:

Jenna Brown

Retired, University of Denver, Member Since: 2000

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Members Needed for New Joint IOA & CO-OP® Taskforce

By Sue Diviney, CO-OP®, IOA Board Member and Mollie Berg, CO-OP®, CO-OP® President

We are pleased to announce the formation of a new Joint IOA & CO-OP® Task Force that will recommend a proposal to accredit organizational ombuds programs. This will clear the way to separate program accreditation from individual certification under CO-OP®.

The goal is to create a time-limited task force that brings together a variety of critical perspectives and experiences, that may ideally include (but not be limited to) many of the following:

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Share Your Ombuds Journey

Help Us Explore Our Diverse Stories. Submit Today.

By IOA

Updated March 2022

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Introducing IOA's New Website

Begin Exploring

By the International Ombuds Association

We are delighted to announce that we have launched a new IOA website. You are invited to visit our new and improved site at www.ombudsassociation.org.

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IOA Board Elections Results 2022

Meet Our Newest Board Members

By IOA

Thank you to everyone who voted!

Thank you to the 107 IOA members who participated in this year's IOA Board Election. There were nine director positions open on the Board and a slate of ten eligible candidates was presented to members. 

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Message from the Executive Director

By Ellen Miller, IOA Executive Director

Greetings IOA Members & Supporters,

Thank you for the very warm welcome and the many kind messages I have received. I am now well into my third week at IOA, learning about the organization’s many committees, task forces, and projects, and attending the March Virtual Foundations course this week. One thing is very clear: I am so impressed with the tremendous energy and engagement of our members.  

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Volunteers Needed in Anticipation of Proposed Title IX Amendments

Call to Action

By Ellen Miller, IOA Executive Director

Calling All US Academic Ombuds

We need your help. The US Department of Education has finalized its proposed amendments to Title IX and we expect a Notice of Proposed Rule Making to be issued in the next 60–90 days. According to an abstract previewing the amendments, the following changes may be included to align Title IX with Biden-Harris Administration priorities: 

  • Designation of coordinator
  • Dissemination of policy
  • Adoption of grievance procedures
  • Definitions
  • Recipient’s response to sexual harassment
  • Grievance process for formal complaints of sexual harassment

You may recall that in March 2021, President Biden directed the Department of Education to review changes made to Title IX during the Trump administration that prompted a week of exploratory hearings last summer. IOA participated by submitting comments that encouraged the retention of two amendments to preserve the effectiveness of organizational ombuds on college campuses.

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Experience on Display

Submissions Are Due 14 March 2022 

By Teresa Ralicki, Ombuds, University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus, Founder, Ombuds Institute

Wow – I can’t believe how close we are to the next IOA Annual Conference. I also can’t believe this will be our third year being together virtually. It occurs to me just how much I rely on this conference to connect with other ombuds. To fill up my cup for the year with energy, with connection, with creativity. I am eagerly awaiting seeing you all!  

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International Association on Workplace Bullying and Harassment Conference

Call for Papers & Presentations

By Catherine Mattice, MA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

13th International Association on Workplace Bullying and Harassment Conference

San Diego, California, USA | 20–24 September 2022

Conference Theme: Re-imagining Ways to Research and Address Workplace Bullying and Harassment Across the Globe

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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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A New Name, A New Logo, A New IOA Brand

What's Changing & How Will It Affect You?

In 2018, IOA began our journey to redefine the way we communicate about our association and about the organizational ombuds profession as a whole. Today, we are proud to announce and share the results of this effort.

Along with formally changing our organization's name to the “International Ombuds Association,”  we are releasing a new logo, revised color palette, and a refined branding style guide. This new branding helps us celebrate the growth and evolution of our organization and our profession. It reflects a modern interpretation of our core values and traditions while incorporating elements of our 2021-2024 Strategic Direction.

Thank You for Your Input

During this process, member input has driven the overall direction and design of this new modern look. Your responses to the member-driven 2020 Branding Survey, your comments and input on the revisions to IOA's Bylaws & Articles of Incorporation, as well as your feedback on the 2021 logo design concepts have helped IOA leadership to better understand what you think IOA's brand should convey and what imagery resonates most with you. 

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2022 President's Message to IOA Members

President, Melanie Jagneaux

By Melanie Jagneaux, JD, MBA, CO-OP®, IOA President

IOA begins the new year strong. Steadily growing over the past two years, IOA has surpassed its 1,000 member milestone! Even as the impacts of the COVID pandemic continued, we ended 2021 in a prosperous financial position, closing the year with an approximate net surplus of more than $35,000.

We, the members of IOA, accomplished a great deal in 2021! I think it is important to pause and celebrate our successes because our efforts in 2021 will bring even more value to our membership and the ombuds profession in the years to come. If you volunteered your time and talent on an IOA Committee or Task Force, IOA has greatly benefited from your investment. If you provided valuable feedback on proposals in surveys, you helped IOA leaders make better decisions. If you shared viewpoints in town halls or member meetings you contributed to our collaborative culture. We stayed well focused on our goals, engaged openly, collaborated well, met challenges with confidence and persistence, and made important changes to ready the organization for the future.

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IOA Announces Our New Executive Director

Join Us in Welcoming Ellen Miller

By Melanie Jagneaux, JD, MBA, CO-OP®, IOA President

We are pleased to announce that after a thorough and competitive search process, the IOA Board of Directors has selected a new executive director for IOA.

Ellen MillerEllen Miller will be joining us as our next executive director in mid-February. Ellen comes to us with prior experience as an executive director (most recently serving as the Executive Director of the California Lawyers Foundation) and extensive experience in organizational management, program and service implementation, advocacy, stakeholder engagement, strategic planning, and organizational positioning. Ellen has deep roots in the dispute resolution field and is a trained mediator and facilitator herself. Her collaborative leadership style is already evident as she has begun meeting with IOA leadership to get to know the organization and hit the ground running in February. 

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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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Department of Education Clery Act Updates

Help IOA Track Campus Security Authorities Audits

By Jessica Kuchta-Miller, IOA Government & Policy Committee Co-Chair & Ellen Miller, IOA Executive Director

Calling all Higher-Education Ombuds,

We are writing to see if you are aware of any federal Department of Education audits of your institution or other colleges or universities in which the Department or its consultants are asserting that ombuds should be considered Campus Security Authorities (CSAs) under the Clery Act and regulations.

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Progress on Revising IOA's Standards of Practice & Code of Ethics Revisions

What Is Changing & Why Is It Important?

By IOA SOP & COE Working Group

In the Fall of 2020, the IOA Board of Directors presented revised drafts of the Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics to the IOA membership for feedback (more information is available on The Independent Voice). We received many comments via our survey questionnaire, during listening sessions, and in individual communications. The majority of the comments supported the proposed changes, but there were a number of members who offered valuable constructive criticism and specific suggestions.

Next, the Board convened a working group to methodically review and evaluate the comments and suggestions from members. That group met weekly and conducted a section-by-section, paragraph-by-paragraph review of the Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics, incorporating many of the suggested edits. The working group exercised its best judgment to reconcile many conflicting member suggestions.

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2021 IOA Member Updates

By IOA

We would like to thank IOA's  1,000+ members for participating in our organization in 2021. Members' support and investment in the association help us continue striving toward our mission to advance the organizational ombuds profession worldwide.

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A Farewell Message from Chuck Howard

IOA's first Executive Director sums up his time with the organization.

Dear IOA Members & Supporters,

Soon after the first of the year, IOA will have a new Executive Director. But before I step away from this role, I want to let all of you know that I have very much appreciated the opportunity to work with IOA and IOA members for the past almost two and a half years. I also want to thank the IOA Board of Directors for their bold leadership in creating this position in the first place and for making it a full-time position going forward. Given the global challenges of the past couple of years and the need to adapt and re-envision everything, including our training programs and conferences, I believe this commitment represents the best in great organizational leadership.

As many of you know, I have long encouraged IOA to take a more active role in the world outside of IOA to support its members, to help create new programs, and to demonstrate the value of organizational ombuds programs for both people and organizations. During my tenure as the Executive Director, I have sought to prove that this mission is a worthy investment. I have endeavored to be just such a champion for IOA and the valuable role of an organizational ombuds through my speaking engagements and writings. I have been available to help IOA members with issues of concern in their own programs, and I have been willing to engage anytime and anywhere with organizations that are considering the possible creation of organizational ombuds programs and explain the key elements necessary for an effective program.

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