IOA Announces Inaugural Executive Director

By Marcia Martínez-Helfman, 2019–2020 IOA President & Lee Twyman, Chair, Executive Director Search Committee

Dear IOA Members & Supporters,

The selection of an executive director concludes IOA’s organizational transition to a hybrid management model. We are pleased to have received a large number of very strong applicants deeply interested in the work of the IOA. Earlier this year, finalists were interviewed and the IOA Board of Directors unanimously agreed to offer the Executive Director position to Chuck Howard. Chuck will officially begin on 1 September 2019.We are delighted to announce that Charles (Chuck) Howard has agreed to serve as the inaugural Executive Director for the International Ombudsman Association.

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Changes on the IOA Board of Directors and a Call for Nominations

By Kerry Egdorf, IOA Board Member & Chair, Nominations and Governance Committee

On behalf of the IOA Board of Directors and with great appreciation, IOA says goodbye to two members of the Board who have resigned due to personal and professional commitments. Ruthy Kohorn Rosenberg served on the Board from April 2018 to July 2019, including one year of service as the IOA Secretary. Elaine Shaw served on the Board from April 2018 to July 2019, including four months of service as the IOA Secretary. We are grateful for their passion and participation! 

This July, the Board of Directors elected Ronnie Thomson as the new 2019–2020 IOA Secretary. Congratulations, Ronnie, and thank you!

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Promoting Our Profession Through Collaboration

By Christina Sabee, PhD, Employee Ombudsperson, San Francisco State University & Jessica Kuchta-Miller, CO-OP®, JD, Staff Ombudsperson, Washington University in St. Louis

A recent IOA press release about IOA’s participation in the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s (NASEM) Action Collaborative on Preventing Sexual Harassment in Higher Education describes an exciting collaboration among 28 founding organizations and more than 50 sponsoring organizations. This initiative focuses on prevention, response, remediation, and evaluation of policies and practices for addressing sexual harassment on college and university campuses. The process of developing this collaborative began with the issuance of a June 2018 report from NASEM that focused on understanding the climate created by the sexual harassment of women on college and university campuses and in which the organizational ombuds role was featured. From there, NASEM hosted a convocation in November of 2018 during which members built on the recommendations from this report and other sources to discuss strategies and share practices that might address this important issue. The Action Collaborative was announced as an idea at this convocation.

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How Can IOA Be a Better Member Organization? A Conversation

By Cynthia Joyce, University Ombudsperson, University of Iowa, and Marcia Martínez-Helfman, Associate Ombuds, University of Pennsylvania and IOA President, 2018-2020

Marcia Martínez-Helfman: At the Annual Conference in New Orleans this year, I had the good fortune to meet Cynthia Joyce, a long time IOA member who has had a mixed experience with the organization. At my urging, Cynthia shared with me more about her concerns. The conversation was substantive, frank, and enlightening for both of us. Although each of us would be shortly going our separate ways from NOLA, we both wanted to keep talking and felt it would be instructive and constructive to share our exchange with a wider audience. So here we are. Our hope is that this is the beginning of an extended dialogue between the membership and volunteer leaders, through monthly blog posts, taking us to a better IOA! I want to start by asking Cynthia how long she’s been an IOA member, and to tell me about the early experiences with the organization, some of which left her with a bad taste in her mouth.

Cynthia Joyce: Marcia, I wanted to start on a lighter note and point out the connection between our two offices. The reason the University of Iowa has an ombuds office is Penn. A former UI president, James Freedman, came to Iowa from Penn, where he had served as a faculty ombuds. When he arrived on the UI campus, he asked where the ombuds office was, and, when told there wasn’t one, asked a faculty committee to explore the idea of starting an ombuds office. I think history matters, and I appreciate the fact that our office started in a positive way, providing a needed resource to campus, rather than evolving out of a crisis.

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How Inclusivity and Accountability Advance IOA

By Elisa V. Enriquez, LCSW,CO-OP ®, Senior Associate Ombudsman, Los Alamos National Laboratory
Chair, IOA Membership Committee

The International Ombudsman Association (IOA) was established in 2005 with the merger of the University and College Ombuds Association (UCOA) and The Ombudsman Association (TOA) following a period of transformation that led to establishing standards of practice for organizational ombuds. These standards were established on the pillars of neutrality, independence, confidentiality and informality. IOA’s mission is to “support and advance the global organizational ombudsman profession and ensure that practitioners work to the highest professional standards.”

In the 14 years since the inception of IOA, it has been acknowledged that some members must abide by institutional policies within their organizations which can limit their ability to fully adhere to the Standards of Practice, or SOPs. This has led to misunderstandings and those members often feeling excluded. There is tension over what it means to be an association of those in support of the organizational ombuds profession and those who should or should not be a full member of IOA. If members are not able to practice to the Standards, but are able to support the mission and conduct themselves professionally, they are considered full members in good standing by IOA.

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Some Thoughts on the Middle

By Kim Fulbright, University Ombuds, University of Cincinnati 

Wind tugging at my sleeve
feet sinking into the sand
I stand at the edge where earth touches ocean
where the two overlap
a gentle coming together
at other times and places a violent clash

Gloria Anzaldúa[1]
Borderlands/La Frontera





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The Visitor

By Ruthy Kohorn Rosenberg, University Ombudsperson, Brown University
IOA Board Member

I hear your footsteps slowing on the stairs.Hesitating at the top, You leave the carpet for the wood
Noticing the last direction, directions followed like bread crumbs
In this maze of a building.
And you
Hover just outside my door.

What will you carry through that door?
I will welcome whatever you bring.

I pause and breathe,
Gathering.
I still the aviary in my mind; fluttering, hopping, swooping.
Emails not returned, conversations just ended,
Emotions swirling from moments ago, not yet dealt with.
They finally take their places on the roost, and quiet.
My body poised













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Professional Development and the Revitalization of a Regional Ombuds Group in the SE US

By Tim Hedeen, Professor of Conflict Management and University Ombuds, Kennesaw State University
and Jennifer Schneider, Student Ombuds, University of South Florida

 Do you like sunshine, history, and architecture?
 Do you enjoy meeting with other bright, like-minded people?
 Are you an ombuds in the southeastern region of the US?

If you answered affirmatively to any of the above statements, then join us in Savannah, GA this summer!


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A Storm of Protest Is Coming to US Workplaces

By Mauricio (Reese) Ramos

The traditional U.S. workplace has changed. Decades back, if an employee disagreed with an organization's policy, the employer would point to the door and remind the worker that if they didn’t like it, they could work someplace else. If an employee wished there was a telecommuting option, or that a designated lactation space was available, or medical benefits for same-sex partners were offered, the response tended to unequivocally be, “You don’t like it here? There’s the door.”

Nowadays, when an employer disregards employee concerns, employees voice their dissension. If you’re an employer, and are seeing the signs but disregarding the message, you better start listening because there’s a storm brewing.  And this time, employees are demanding to be heard. If you fail to listen and change, you will lose high-performing employees, damage the reputation of your brand or organization, and ultimately risk compromising your organization’s mission due to the disruption caused by disgruntled employees.

Sometime in this new century something shifted in the relationship between employers and employees. I noticed it when I was with a certain organization. When I first joined, when the new hires had a specific concern, their concern was typically dismissed.  Management’s message was, in short, that new hires should learn the system and adapt to it.    

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Ombuds as Agents of Systemic Change

By Camilo Azcarate, Ombuds for the European Southern Observatory

Ombuds are expected to act as agents of positive change for organizations. This is arguably one of the most important long-term contributions of the role. SoP 4.6 states that “The Ombudsman identifies trends and concerns about policies and procedures, including future issues and concerns… and provides recommendations for responsibly addressing them.”

However, this part of the role has not been, in my view, carefully explored. I am not aware of specific guidelines to help us identify what type of trends should concern us, and which recommendations may be most useful to address them. We may greatly benefit from more guidance on this part of our practice.

I believe it is useful to have a fixed point, a north star, to help us navigate the often treacherous waters of organizational life. This is particularly important if we are expected to serve as agents of change. For me, this star is human dignity.

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An Ombuds Is like a Band-Aid...

By Hans Kohler, Conflict Resolution Specialist and Ombuds

I was recently talking with one of the owners of a company that I have been contracted to work with, and he was asking me about the benefits of hiring an ombuds. Besides all of the regular and most common questions, he unexpectedly asked, “If you would have to make an analogy about being an ombuds, what would that be?”  

My answer was quite simple: an ombuds is like a Band-Aid.

I imagine that many of my ombuds colleagues are frowning...screaming...yelling "Say what?”… and so on. I still stand by my analogy -- being an ombuds is like being a Band-Aid. If this analogy makes you think of a Band-Aid as a treatment for symptoms instead of causes, take a step back and see the multiple utilities of it. I hope to show you how this Band-Aid analogy in a way that is creative and unconventional.

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New at IOA in New Orleans: The Swag Showcase

Swag noun \ ˈswag \ 
Free items given away to promote a resource, event, or product

Marketing an ombuds office isn’t always easy. Eye-catching promotional items really help spread the word and create excitement about what ombuds have to offer. However, limited time (and budgets!) can make it tough to come up with clever slogans and nifty designs.

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No New Year's Resolution - I'm Going to the Conference Instead!

By Roy Baroff, CO-OP®
Faculty & Staff Ombuds, NC State
Member, IOA Board of Directors

I know, we are now in February!  How can one still be thinking of New Year’s Resolutions? I was worried about this too until I recently heard someone say “Happy New Year” and it was January 31st! And, when asked, the person indicated they wished people Happy New Year until around November. I’m not going that far, as February works for me. So, here goes:

 No New Year’s Resolutions – I’m going to the Conference instead !

With each new year (or New Year), we routinely face the challenge to change our lives!!!  We are inundated by the idea that this time, this turn of the calendar, will be a catalyst for our next best self. I know this to be true as I saw it on Facebook, Instagram and even Linkedin!!  And, that’s what I was thinking when tasked with drafting a blog post for IOA as one of its Board of Directors.



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Exciting News from the CO-OP® Board!

Dear IOA Members,

The CO-OP® Board is very pleased to announce broader and more accessible credentialing! The Certification Board and Committees have made changes based on IOA member input.  We have decided to implement a leveling approach to certification. The CO-OP Board feels leveling is an important way to maintain the rigor of certification, while expanding access to credentialing. We recognize that ombuds practice in a variety of settings, and have worked hard to achieve and maintain a professional level of knowledge and experience. We feel that recognizing this with our new credentialing levels will aid in the continued professionalization of our field.

What does this mean? This means that there will be more than one level for credentialing. Some people in our profession who are knowledgeable and experienced ombuds are unable to obtain certification because their organization has requirements that compromise their ability to practice to standards and obtain full certification. One example of this is in the academic sector where some institutions have interpreted reporting requirements related to Title IX or Cleary Act, which technically conflict with the standards of practice for our profession. We want to recognize these ombuds.

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A Call for Your Experience

By Teresa Ralicki, Ombuds, University of Colorado Denver

Seeing shredded confidential material from another ombuds office, right in my face, as if to taunt me. Hearing about what it means for a colleague to sketch portraits. Feeling the impact of helping visitor after visitor through a photograph. These were profound experiences for me as I walked around the pop-up art gallery, Experience: On Display, at the IOA conference last year.

Let me backup a bit and share the story of this session’s inception. My first IOA conference was in 2012. I had been an ombuds for almost a year at that point. I was eager to be involved and to become part of the IOA fabric. It felt so good to be a part of this profession after years of struggling to find my way in the conflict resolution job world. Not only had I found a job that I loved, I was brought into the IOA community -- one that shared ideas, offered opportunities for growth and mentorship and, as I quickly came to observe, harbored a boatload of creative talent.

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New Book Club for Ombuds

Coordinated by Lisa Neale and Hector Escalante, in conjunction with Cal Caucus, this book club exists to connect the ombuds community to talk about privilege, inclusion, and justice. All are welcome to participate.

The group’s first meeting will be held via Zoom for one hour on Friday, 08 March at 2PM Eastern. The book to be discussed is White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism by Dr. Robin DiAngelo, a New York Times Bestseller. (Dr. DiAngelo is scheduled to be a keynote speaker at #IOA2019 in New Orleans in April.)

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Transfer of Membership Guidelines

The IOA Board recently approved a process for transferring memberships that will be administered by IOA staff effective January 2019. The Transfer of Membership Guidelines emphasize that IOA membership is held by each individual; therefore, an individual can initiate a transfer of membership. Transfers are limited to an individual transferring to an associate within the same organization.

Guidelines for transferring a membership include:

  • An email from an existing individual member requesting to have their membership inactivated along with the name of a person within the same organization who will receive the membership
  • The creation of a new IOA member record. (The old record will also be maintained.)
  • The assessment of a membership transfer fee ($25) for staff time to update the membership record
If you have any questions about this process, please contact [email protected].

IOA Conference Schedule Posted

IOA has published the schedule for its Annual Conference being held April 1st-3rd, 2019 in New Orleans. Pre-conference events begin on March 29th. While some details are yet to be determined, you'll find a variety of session topics and keynote addresses by Jon Lee, Dr. Robin DiAngelo, and Andy Fass. Take a look!  And, if you haven't already done so, register now. See you in NOLA!

View the 2019 Schedule
Register Now

 

Training Conflict Management in the Midst of a Conflict Storm

by Mark Patterson, University Ombuds, William & Mary

"Like putting a band-aid on a wound that needs a tourniquet,” the anonymous feedback read.

Ouch.

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Publish in the Journal of the IOA!

by Shannon Lynn Burton, Ph.D.
University Ombudsperson, Michigan State University
Editor, Journal of the IOA

As ombuds, we all practice some level of reflection in our work, and as humans, we naturally seek to share our experiences with others. Why not join your colleagues in an exploration of ideas, practices and new theories by publishing in the Journal of the IOA? Writing about your experiences can be a way to examine your practice, deepen your philosophies, and reflect on the impact of your work on your organization - and your publication can help enhance both your own individual professional standing while it legitimizes the field as a whole. Writing is also a way to process particularly big or challenging emotions, so writing about that difficult case can also be a way for you to figure out how to move forward. The JIOA is soliciting all articles - academic as well as practiced or application oriented - and members of our Editorial Board are happy to discuss your ideas and help you along the road to publication. If you've recently given a presentation or training, you may also want to consider developing that work into an article so it can benefit not just your immediate audience, but a larger audience as well. We hope that you will consider writing an article for submission and encourage you to reach out if you are interested. You can email the Editorial Board at: [email protected].