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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15 July 2021 Special Member Meeting Summary

Updates from the Special Meeting

Thank you to all members who voted by proxy or participated in today’s special meeting of the membership to discuss the proposed revisions to our organization’s Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation.

During the meeting, members raised procedural issues, which delayed the discussion of the motion to approve the changes to IOA's Bylaws. By the time the procedural issues were resolved, the time that had been dedicated for discussion had expired and the motion to vote was withdrawn. In the remaining few minutes, several members expressed views and asked questions. The Board will meet next Monday, 19 July 2021 to discuss how best to move forward.

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Comments on Bylaws Revisions from Chuck Howard

By Chuck Howard, IOA Executive Director

Photo of Charles HowardI am not an ombuds, but I have been a member of IOA in whatever category I was allowed to be since its inception. I have represented and worked with ombuds for more than 30 years, and I hope that my advocacy and admiration for ombuds and the work that they do has been apparent.

For the past two years, I have been privileged to serve as the Executive Director of IOA, and I have worked very hard to expand awareness of the ombuds role externally; and also, within IOA, I have tried to help it become a more effective association for the ombuds profession. I am keenly aware of the strong history of voluntarism within IOA but also keenly aware of the need for more professionalism in how IOA operates. Over the years, since IOA was so small, much of its work and decision-making has been conducted much like a committee of the whole. As IOA has grown—and especially if it wants to continue to grow—as a profession, that model of collective decision-making does not always serve the organization well. There is a Board of Directors for a reason—to provide leadership and guidance on difficult questions. 

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Toward A More Inclusive Future

Message from the IOA Executive Committee

Dear IOA Members,

We strongly encourage everyone’s participation in the upcoming Special Member Meeting on Thursday, 15 July to cast your vote on the proposed revisions to the IOA Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation. All votes matter and count toward the required quorum (and your chance to win prizes!). If we do not meet quorum (approximately 250 votes), regardless of the votes cast, the Bylaws will fail. 

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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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Results of the Independent Review

Special Member Meeting for Bylaws Revisions Announced

In our roles as ombuds professionals and association members, it has never been more important to continue our advancement of standards and practices that strengthen IOA’s commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB).

As the world continues to grapple with some of its most complex and painful challenges, our pursuit of justice continues. This includes ensuring that we maintain fair and equitable processes for qualification, nomination, and election to the IOA Board of Directors.

In March of 2021, IOA's DEIB Task Force reported concerns regarding IOA elections IOA leadership took immediate action and approved an outside review of the nomination and selection process as it pertains to Board service. That independent review, conducted by the law firm of Ahmad Zaffarese LLC, recently concluded. The firm's report offers valuable, actionable insight and makes several recommendations the Board has been considering as proposed changes to IOA's Bylaws. These newly proposed changes are to be submitted to a vote of IOA members at a special member meeting to be held this July. Among the review’s findings are the following:

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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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IOA Ombuds Program Survey

Share Your Insights & Feedback

Dear Colleagues,

Nearly a year ago, in July 2020, the IOA Board of Directors unanimously voted to extend the IOA Pilot Ombuds Program for one year. As we are nearing the end of this term, our IOA Ombuds, Elaine Shaw, CO-OP®, has proposed a process for evaluating the effectiveness of the program. This process will provide support for the IOA Board’s decision-making about whether to continue the IOA Ombuds Program beyond the current agreement expiration in October 2021.

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June 2021 Title IX Updates

IOA Submits Comment to the U.S. Department of Education

In March 2021, President Biden issued an executive order directing the U.S. Secretary of Education, Miquel Cardona, to review the changes made to Title IX under the Trump administration.

For multiple days during the week of 7 June, the U.S. Department of Education held a virtual Title IX Public Hearing to gather information from survivors, students, parents, faculty, school staff, administrators, and other community members about the steps the Department can take to ensure that schools are providing students with safe learning environments free from discrimination and sexual harassment while implementing fair processes. The public comments will inform the Department’s review of its regulations, guidance, and other agency actions under Title IX. In addition to oral statements at the public hearing, the Department welcomed the submission of written comments.

IOA's Government & Policy Committee  with the support of IOA leadership submitted a written comment highlighting the important and unique role organizational ombuds play on many campuses by providing confidential, informal, impartial, and independent assistance to all college and university community members including complainants, respondents, and the administration, writing:

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Romanian Ombuds Success - Newly Translated IOA Standards of Practice & Code of Ethics

International Member Feature

IOA member, Dr. Eng. Ion Anghel, Director of PetrOmbudsman Department in Romania recently shared the exciting news that their department was celebrating its seventh year of activity.

As part of the celebration, the office wanted to contribute to increasing ombuds awareness in Romania. Dr. Eng. Anghel provided IOA with a Romanian Translation of the IOA Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics. We are honored to now reveal this latest translation.

 

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Share Your Ombuds Journey

 Help us explore our diverse stories. Submit Today.

The global ombuds community is filled with professionals who come from a wide variety of backgrounds. There are IOA members and supporters like you with a diverse range of academic credentials and professional experiences.

Unlike many professions, the journey to become an ombuds, ombudsperson, or ombudsman does not follow a clearly identified path. To celebrate and better understand what it takes to become an ombuds The Independent Voice is launching the Ombuds Journey Project. This blog mini series will feature and share the real-life journeys of ombuds just like you.

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Fairfax County (VA) Public Schools Article Share

IOA Member Feature

by Chuck Howard, IOA Executive Director

IOA members Armando Peri and Dawn Clement, ombuds with the Fairfax County (VA) Public Schools, recently shared an article on the valuable role they serve in connection with the special education process, which is subject to federal legal requirements.

These K-12 ombuds engage in extensive outreach efforts to help parents and others learn more about the special education process and are often asked to explain in understandable language the various legal requirements and procedures. They also serve as an informal resource for parents to share their concerns and to help them develop options for special education strategies. 

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International COVID Message

by Melanie Jagneaux, JD, MBA, CO-OP®, 2020-2021 IOA President

In North America, where vaccinations continue and an end to the pandemic appears to be in sight, many of us are beginning to feel a sense of relief as we perceive that the worst may be behind us.

However, as an international organization, IOA is well aware that our colleagues around the world are experiencing grave difficulties and have families, coworkers, organizations, and communities that continue to struggle with COVID-19.

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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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IOA Member Featured on a Conflict Resolution Podcast

Anlaşabiliriz/We Can Find a Way Podcast

 

IOA member, Tom Kosakowski, University Ombuds at the University of Southern California and creator of The Ombuds Blog, was featured on the bilingual podcast, Anlaşabiliriz/We Can Find a Way last month. The podcast is hosted by Idil Elveris and this episode, "Ombuds helped universities to become compassionate," speaks to the benefits ombuds make on higher education campuses. Take a listen.


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ABA’s Just Resolutions e-newsletter is Looking for Articles on the Work of Ombuds

By Shannon Burton, PhD. 

University Ombudsperson | Michigan State University
Editor | ABA Just Resolutions September 2021

Dear Ombuds Colleagues,

I am writing to solicit articles for the September 2021 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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The JIOA Special Issue on Sexual Harassment & Discrimination (Part 1) Has Been Published!

By Shereen Bingham
Professor Emeritus and former Ombuds, University of Nebraska at Omaha

Have you ever observed an individual enter an Ombuds office–perhaps your own–exuding feelings such as uncertainty, anxiety, fear, or despair? And then watched them take leave of that office some 90 minutes later radiating a degree of comfort, hope, or resolve? I have. Countless Ombuds colleagues have described similar experiences with visitors. But how does it happen? What exactly does Ombuds work entail?

Contrary to what our T-shirts may claim, we all know Ombuds are not really superheroes with supernatural powers. But Ombuds do have an air of mystery about them. How could it be otherwise?  The IOA Standards of Practice guide Ombuds to operate confidentially, independently, and off-the-record. Details of Ombuds’ methods and interactions are inherently private and hidden from view. 

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A Message from the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) Task Force

By Heidi Stensby & Melissa Watson
DEIB Task Force Communications Liaisons

In July of 2020, the IOA Board unanimously approved the establishment of a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) Task Force. The group was tasked with helping IOA internally evaluate itself on anti-racism practices and racial justice—and with defining parameters for a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment that supports membership belonging and connection within the organization. 

Under the leadership of co-chairs Brett Harris and Jai Calloway—selected by task force members – the DEIB group dedicated early discussion to the meanings of the words “diversity,” “equity,” “inclusion,” and “belonging”—recognizing that individual perspectives and experiences inform each person’s understanding and practice. To ensure fidelity to the project and IOA’s broad purpose, the task force drafted the following mission and values statements:

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Standing With Our Asian Colleagues & Communities

The IOA Board of Directors composed the following statement in collaboration with the Communications Committee and Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging Task Force.

The International Ombuds Association (IOA) is deeply saddened by the news from Atlanta on 16 March 2021 – when eight people were murdered by a gunman who attacked three Asian-owned businesses. Six of the eight deceased were Asian. Though details are still forthcoming about the gunman’s motives, it is impossible to disentangle this incident from the nearly 3,800 reported hate crimes directed at Asian American Pacific Islanders (AAPI) since March 2020 (source: Stop AAPI Hate).  

IOA recognizes the historical pattern of anti-Asian discrimination in the United States. COVID-19 has re-ignited the longstanding social injustice against the AAPI community which traces its roots to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the Japanese Internment Camps of World War II. IOA stands in steadfast support of the AAPI community. As experts in facilitating difficult conversations, ombuds can – and should – take an active role in promoting inclusivity and addressing identity-based oppression and racial bias. Supporting AAPI communities aligns to IOA’s mission and is integral to the organization’s diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging values. While ensuring that xenophobia is absent from IOA practices and policies, at moments like this, ombuds must take active steps to support individuals and communities that are targeted and hurting. As an organization committed to the respectful treatment of all individuals, in the wake of the Atlanta murders, IOA believes that a dedication to advocacy, allyship, and social justice are core elements to our collective healing and progress.