Catch up on and Contribute to the JIOA

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

Dear IOA Colleagues,

The Journal of the International Ombuds Association (JIOA) has been busy this year!  Please visit our website if you have not done so recently.  There are new articles and book reviews posted. 

Read More

Ombuds Day 2023

By Belinda M. Robinson, PhD
Associate Organizational Ombudsman - Federal Bureau of Investigation

For nearly six years, in conjunction with the American Bar Association’s Ombuds Day Committee, the Ombuds community is celebrated, recognized, and congratulated on the second Thursday of October, also known as Ombuds Day. This year, Ombuds Day is celebrated on Thursday, October 12. The theme for 2023 is Ombuds: Diverse in Role. United in Service.

Prior years’ themes have paid homage to the professionals who lead conflict resolution efforts and mediation services for organizations, large and small, and regardless of their internally or externally facing ombuds roles:

  •  2022Ombuds: Resilience, Respect, Resolve
  •  2021Ombuds: Exploring Options to Resolve Conflict Together
  •  2020 and 2019Ombuds: Unusual Name. Important Service

Ombuds practitioners are often described as navigators who provide a beacon of light; giving employees, and often the public, hope that their problems can be resolved fairly and equitably.

Read More

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"A California law banning publicly funded travel to states with laws that discriminate against LGBTQ people is no longer active under legislation signed Wednesday by Democratic Gov.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

Read More

ABA Dispute Resolution Section - Call for Proposals

The ABA Dispute Resolution Section is now accepting program proposals for our 2024 Spring Conference that will be held April 10–13, 2024, in San Diego, CA. This year’s conference theme is Mastering the Future: Revolutionizing Dispute Resolution in a Dynamic World.

We welcome program proposals from anyone who can enlighten and connect with our anticipated attendees, who include dispute resolution leaders, mediators, arbitrators, ombuds, judges, attorney advocates, court administrators, neutral providers, ADR consumers, and legal educators. The proposal deadline is September 13 at 5 p.m. ET, so now is your chance to bring your program idea to life!

Read More

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



Read More

In Memoriam: Jared Lee

We have some very sad news to share, on behalf of IOA member Jennifer Moumneh:

It is with great sadness that I’m writing to share the news that our team member and dear friend, Jared Lee, passed away unexpectedly last week.

Jared Lee

Jared was a key member of UC Irvine’s Office of the Ombuds, a wonderful colleague, a rising star in the Organizational Ombuds profession, and an overall amazing human being.  He will be missed dearly.

Read More
1 Comments

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?

Read More

Updated - Journal for the International Ombuds Association seeks Associate Editor

The Journal for the International Ombuds Association (JIOA) has an opening for an Associate Editor! Associate Editors work directly with authors throughout the revision process. JIOA believes in a highly constructive revision process. Associate Editors are directly responsible for providing editorial support to authors to achieve that goal. Specific responsibilities of Associate Editors include:

  • Serve at the first point of contact for authors during the revision process
  • Provide feedback to authors as necessary as they revise drafts of their manuscript
  • Determine when a revised manuscript is ready for final approval from the Editor
  • Make minor editorial decisions and request the opinion of the Editor for larger ones
  • Solicit manuscripts from potential authors
  • Assist with JIOA special projects
  • Market the Journal via email and social media platforms
  • Attend Editorial Board meetings

The ideal Associate Editor will have excellent communication skills; tact and discretion; familiarity with academic research, writing, and conventions; digital fluency; the ability to multitask and meet deadlines; a highly cooperative spirit; and respect for academic integrity. Three years of experience within the Ombuds field is preferred.

Read More

The Ombuds Journey: A Consideration of Multiple Contexts

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

Over five years ago, I was asked to put together a presentation to discuss why I wanted to be Michigan State University’s next University Ombudsperson after having served as Assistant and Associate Ombudsperson. What follows is my ombuds journey adapted from that presentation. There, and here, while I do not present a chronological perspective, I do share the multiple contexts that I believe an ombuds must navigate: Theoretical; Historical; Social; Professional and the Personal.

Theoretical

For those that know me, they know I love discussing theory… but more than that, I like making it practical. Theory is often like a computer code running in the background. You don’t often see it running, but you know that it is. In terms of my own code, I pull from two traditions: dialogue, deliberation and public engagement, as well as andragogy. While understanding conflict is a key factor in being an ombuds, understanding student perspectives and growth are really at the heart of this office’s work. For me, these traditions inform both aspects of the office: “student” and “ombuds”. I focus on the democracy perspective in dialogue, deliberation and public engagement, as well as emancipatory learning from andragogy. These approaches have three concepts in common:

Read More

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].   

Read More

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. 

Read More

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.  

Read More

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!

Read More

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

Read More

The Creative Energy of a Federal Ombuds

As an Associate Ombuds for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Dr. Belinda Robinson utilizes poetry as a creative outlet. She gracefully presented two examples of how she uses this medium to share appreciation for the role she has within the Ombuds community. The following was shared at the Coalition of Federal Ombudsman (COFO) conference in 2021 in recognition of Ombuds Day 2021:

The Federal Ombuds
By Belinda M. Robinson, Ph.D.
October 15, 2021

Trying times throughout the years
Erase your doubts
And calm your fears
The Federal Ombuds are here
Confidential, neutral, and informal
That’s how we do it everyday
Independent in every way
But we still managed to have
Our own day
And today we celebrate
Ombuds’ Day
Diverse in people, agency mission and vision
Yet, united in the way we work
Providing service before self
And, we’ve even added articles and books
To the Ombuds’ body of knowledge shelf
No matter the weather, crisis, or pandemic
Bring us your challenging dilemmas
And we will stand up in it
To help you determine the best way to handle them
While we provide fair and equitable resolution
Of your concerns
The Federal Ombuds are who we are
Visit us in person or virtually
Let us help you
Cause it’s what we do
Happy Ombuds’ Day
To all of you!

 

The next poem was also shared in recognition of Ombuds Day 2022 (It was originally embedded in a slideshow and was reformatted to present in this post):


Read More

New IOA Resource for General Counsel and Program Designers

By Ellen Miller, IOA Executive Director 

IOA has developed a new resource to assist program designers to better understand the US case law, statutory, and other established guidance relating to ombuds confidentiality. The primer also explains why a properly structured office is an essential component to creating an implied contract between ombuds and visitors to further support the voluntary nature of the work.   

This resource meets a recurring need expressed by both ombuds and those who are developing programs and can also be tailored for other regions outside of the US. This resource will be shared at a session IOA has planned for the National Association of College of University Attorneys (NACUA)'s annual meeting later this month titled Embracing Conflict: Ombuds as Strategic Allies for Campus Counsel

Read More

Celebrating Juneteenth

By the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) Committee

Juneteenth (June 19) is approaching soon. It is a United States federal holiday which commemorates the end of slavery, the day when the last enslaved African Americans in Texas were told they were free. It’s a time to reflect on both our history and recent events and how we continue to work to eradicate anti- Black racism in all its forms together. This is an important day of celebration for African Americans and all Americans alike. We recognize that each country - each culture - holds celebrations to commemorate freedom, progress, and inclusion. May we use this space to share important portions of our global histories with one another.

Here are a few resources assembled by the IOA DEIB Committee to help honor and celebrate Juneteenth and increase awareness and understanding of racial equity and inclusion:

Highlighting the Creative Energy in our Ombuds Community

Being able to engage in creative problem solving is key to our role as ombuds. This level of creativity is further fostered by engaging in creative endeavors outside of our role. Creative endeavors can also allow us to refresh our mind after days of high intensity conversations.

For those of you who attended the IOA conference in Seattle, I hope you were able to experience the various displays of creativity shared by our IOA members. There were the many visual displays exhibited within the Experience on Display program; we had the lovely performance of the George Gershwin tune Summertime by Sana and Chuck Doran; and the conference was opened by Ellen Miller sharing the video with Andisile Best reciting his poem that follows:

As we wake up here by the fireside,
Our hearts and minds open wide.
We shared our stories, joy and fears,
And shared some tears that washed our cares.
For some of us, the wounds were fresh,
But comfort shed felt like a curse.
We were reminded of our vital roles.
To serve with dignity, compassion and goals.
As ombuds we may feel forgotten,
But our solutions will last forever unbroken.
Our work may not make headlines,
But it has power to heal and change lives.
So let us celebrate the work we have done.
As we heal our wounds one by one.
For the fireside chat reminded us all,
That our impact will be felt for generations to come.
By, Andisile Best

 

Read More