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IOA Statement in Response to Caferra/University of Mississippi

By Chuck Howard, IOA Executive Director and Melanie Jagneaux, JD, MBA, CO-OP

The International Ombudsman Association (IOA) continues to monitor the actions of the University of Mississippi regarding Paul J. Caffera in connection with a purported investigation into allegations of a hostile work environment, stemming from the disclosure of anonymous emails from university officials to the press. 

IOA Executive Director Chuck Howard spoke yesterday with Ashton Pittman, the reporter from the Mississippi Free Press who has written many of the articles concerning events at the University of Mississippi and the university's actions against Mr. Caferra. In particular, Chuck noted that the process apparently used by the university in appointing an interim ombuds—while Mr. Caferra is still the ombuds and on administrative leave—was flawed. Not only is it not clear why the appointment of an interim ombuds was necessary while the investigation is pending, the appointment of someone on an interim basis (with no disclosed search process) who is the Chair of the Academic Discipline Committee, regardless of any personal qualities of the person appointed, is not consistent with the core principles of independence and impartiality recognized both in the University of Mississippi Ombuds' Charter and in the IOA Standards of Practice. Chuck also explained the chilling effect that this interim appointment would have on the interim ombuds' ability to actually perform the job. It is clear from previous reporting that there appears to be widespread fear of retaliation among the faculty. Even if the interim ombuds were to recuse himself in matters in which he might have a conflict of interest, this misses the main point: Faculty members and graduate students will likely be reluctant to even contact him given his other responsibilities, especially since he was appointed while Mr. Caferra is still the ombuds and the investigation into the source of the disclosure of anonymous emails by university officials is still pending.   

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On Behalf of Membership, Thank You IOA

By the IOA Membership Committee

As 2020 comes to an end, and for many, the IOA membership renewal period begins, we reflect on the ways our association has strengthened its commitment to support its members in the work we do as ombuds. When presented with uncertainties and roadblocks due to the global pandemic, IOA stepped up to the task by offering opportunities for support, skill-building, and connection. When IOA faced the difficult and unavoidable decision to cancel the annual conference, our leaders rose to the challenge by providing innovative options and opportunities to share our knowledge, skills, and emotions through town halls, comforting videos, timely communications, improved virtual platforms, relevant webinars (free to members), and a myriad of new networks for caring and sharing. 

The IOA Membership Committee would like to express our gratitude for the tireless efforts of our leaders, Chuck Howard (Executive Director), Melanie Jagneaux (IOA President), and Lindsay Jennings (Managing Director), as well as the hard work of all IOA staff and volunteers. Thanks to them, our association and the global ombuds community have continued to grow and evolve amidst current challenges. Now is also the time for all of us, as IOA members, to rekindle our commitment to the work we do and use our talents to advance IOA’s mission. As we reflect on the change and opportunities still to come in the year ahead, the Membership Committee encourages you to renew your membership now to avoid a lapse upon your membership expiration, whether in January or later in 2021. Together we can continue to strengthen international ombuds practices by supporting wellbeing and communication around the globe for many years to come.

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Updates Regarding the University of Mississippi Ombuds

By Chuck Howard, IOA Executive Director and Melanie Jagneaux, JD, MBA, CO-OP

As many of you know, the University of Mississippi campus Ombuds has been placed on administrative leave. IOA leadership is aware of this situation and has been in contact with IOA member Paul Caferra, the University of Mississippi Ombuds, and his lawyer. It appears that the university has not honored its obligation to respect the confidentiality of its ombuds communications with visitors, an issue which is of great concern to IOA and all of its members. Please be assured that IOA leadership has offered to provide Paul any support it can in this matter and will continue to monitor this situation.

As a reminder to our members, if you ever have a need for consultation and support for a matter such as this, Chuck Howard, as our Executive Director, may be able to assist you. Our IOA Ombuds, Elaine Shaw, also is available to offer confidential, informal, impartial, and independent support and guidance to all IOA members.

IOA 2021-2024 Strategic Direction

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

Beginning in early 2020, IOA embarked on a strategic planning process to set the course for our near future – the coming three years. The Board of Directors engaged Solid Ground Consulting as just the right partner to guide an effective and fruitful process.

To ensure that we were addressing important interests and perspectives across our organization, we intentionally involved key stakeholders of the organization, including chairs and co-chairs of committees and task forces, members of our emerging ombuds network, former leaders, staff, as well as additional IOA members. Through a series of focus group meetings and one-on-one interviews, Solid Ground gathered a broad range of input and perspectives to inform our process. This information was collected in the form of a Pre-Planning Report, which the Board reviewed over a series of three half-day virtual retreats in late summer 2020. With support from Solid Ground, the strategic planning team presented a draft Strategic Direction document to the Board and to all other members of the Leadership Group (which includes all committee and task force co-chairs). That draft was revised to incorporate feedback and the final draft was presented to the Board and approved at its last meeting in October 2020.

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IOA Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Belonging Task Force Update

By Marcia Martinez-Helfman, JD, MSW

The Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Task Force has been formally launched. An organizational meeting of forty-two volunteers was held on Friday, 30 October, and a leadership team is coming together. Jai Calloway, Corporate Ombudsman for Haliburton, and Brett Harris, University Ombudsperson for the University of Oregon, were elected Co-Chairs by the group. It will be on the agenda for the Board of Directors to officially approve the Task Force Co-Chairs at its December meeting.

The Task Force members agreed to break into four teams, each of which will have a particular focus relating to the themes of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, respectively, and will be selecting their own team leads. The IOA Board of Directors provided a draft Terms of Reference, which lays out the Task Force’s purpose, scope of responsibilities, relationship to the organization’s strategic direction, and other guidance for consideration, and invited feedback and recommendations for revisions to the document.

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IOA Leadership Onboarding Program Recap

By Steven Prevaux, JD, CO-OP®
IOA Vice President

IOA successfully launched a new Leadership Onboarding Program (LOP) with more than 30 IOA volunteers participating on 23 September 2020 using a virtual workshop format. We enjoyed an open dialogue with a meaningful exchange of diverse viewpoints and perspectives. A dynamic discussion of IOA leadership roles considered aspects of our “value proposition” through the lens of a focus question: “Why IOA?” Those two words sparked a range of honest, robust, and constructive responses from IOA leaders past, present, and emerging. To get a good sense of these timely and essential concerns check out the following video montage that includes thoughtful wisdom from a half-dozen veteran IOA leaders. 


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2016 Clery Act Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting Rescinded

On October 9th, the U.S. Department of Education rescinded the guidance in its 2016 Clery Act Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting. This is good news for those college and university Ombuds who have been compelled or who are under the threat of being designated “campus security authorities” by their institution. Read the full announcement and the new guidance from the Department of Education here.   Read on for a memorandum with analysis from the IOA Government & Policy Committee, or download it below.

Download the Memo

GPC MEMORANDUM

To:                   All IOA Members & the Ombuds Community

From:               IOA Government and Policy Committee

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2020 IOA Financial Update

By Lee Twyman, IOA Treasurer

The IOA 2020 budget has been significantly impacted by the cancellation of the IOA2020 Annual Conference and pre-conference professional development courses, cancellation of four planned Foundations courses (two at the conference and two scheduled for July of this year) as well as cancellation of one pre-conference core course. The current projected deficit for this year is $254,000. An important footnote here, over the past 5 years, IOA has worked diligently to build financial reserves and those reserves have provided a buffer for this year’s financial downturn and may provide additional reserves to draw upon for a couple more years.  However, just as in personal savings, we do not want to deplete the reserves any more than is absolutely necessary.

The Board and Finance Committee are working closely to remedy this budget deficit and bring IOA back to a positive net revenue within three years (if not sooner). All IOA Committees have been asked to voluntarily defer non-critical spending for the remainder of 2020, and we are looking for ways to gain back lost revenue.

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IOA Ombuds Program Extended

By Melanie Jagneaux, 2020-2021 IOA President

Dear IOA Members,

After a successful pilot program, the IOA Board unanimously voted to extend the IOA ombuds program. Our inaugural IOA Ombuds, Elaine Shaw, CO-OP®, informed the Board that she received calls from all sectors and across the globe. In addition, Elaine presented three ‘upward feedback’ concerns that inspired action of the Board concerning updates to members. Elaine also presented a written report to the Board on the program’s performance for the pilot period, which gave the Board the information necessary to review the program’s performance. The report was favorably received by the Board as it presents ombuds case information in a way that is both informative and reader-friendly. Given the quality and contents of the report, the Board unanimously agreed that IOA members would appreciate receiving the report. 

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Ombuds Day 2020 Is Scheduled for October 8, 2020

By Ken Skodacek
CDRH Deputy Ombuds

Ombuds Day 2020 is scheduled for October 8, 2020, only 3 months away!  

As a reminder, the theme for Ombuds Day 2020 is "Ombuds: Unusual name. Important service."  The primary goal of Ombuds Day is to improve public awareness of ombuds. 

Our actions are intended to: 

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IOA Guidance Concerning COVID-19 and Contact Tracing

By Chuck Howard

Executive Director of IOA

Should an ombuds consider breaking confidence if the ombuds learns that someone has been diagnosed as positive for COVID-19 or been exposed to COVID-19 yet refuses to take action to protect others from further infection?

How might contact tracing affect ombuds’ confidentiality obligations and operational practices if either the ombuds or a visitor develops COVID-19?

These and similar questions have been raised with a request that IOA provide some guidance to IOA members on the implications of COVID-19 and contact tracing on their practices. As restrictions are being lifted and ombuds face the possibility of returning to their workplace offices and meeting with visitors in person, these questions take on added urgency and importance. In an effort to provide guidance to assist IOA members, IOA’s Executive Director prepared a memorandum with important information and recommendations on how ombuds might analyze these issues. You may access this important resource via this link:

COVID-19 IOA Memorandum

Letter from the IOA President - A Call for Fairness & Justice

Dear fellow IOA members,

Over the days following the senseless killing of George Floyd, people across the world have shared an outpouring of emotion from deep sadness to intense rage as the latest in a pattern of police violence against black people. I know that many of you may be feeling frightened, sad, hopeless, or angry; I certainly am.

It is at times like this that I realize how very important our role as ombuds is to the communities we serve. As ombuds, we are called to help, to heal, to educate, and to find solutions to our visitors’ issues. Perhaps our call to help has never been more important than it is today. No one person can heal the wounds of racism or prevent them from recurring. But as ombuds, we can do our part to help people address racism and other issues of violence or exclusion. We can be a voice to address systemic issues and fair processes whether with our visitors, with each other, within our organizations, or within our communities.

I imagine that many of you are plugged into the happenings in your cities and neighborhoods and are hearing loud pleas for help and outcries for change. No doubt, you are connecting and helping where you can. I hope you also feel comfortable asking for help, especially if these events are directly impacting you. I trust that you are activating your personal support networks, and I also want to remind you that your professional network in IOA is here for you, too. Please use our online Discussion Circles and the LinkedIn Organizational Ombuds Discussion Forum to share resources and support. Utilize the IOA Ombuds Program. Plan to join a Community Connections event. Reach out to our leadership team with suggestions for resources or action.

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The Magic of Independence

By Elaine Shaw
IOA Ombuds

When my husband traveled with me to Seattle for the IOA Conference a few years ago, I made him come to the Pecha Kucha event. “Pecha-what?” he asked without much interest. For those of you who don’t know, Pecha Kucha is one of the defining institutions of the IOA annual meeting. It is a time when a few brave souls weave their work, their life, their essence into a creative expression in brief 20 slide/20 seconds per slide presentation with a spoken (or sung!) narrative. My husband was reluctant, but agreed to sit through just one. After 6 or 7 speakers, each more creative, intense or emotional than the last, he was delighted. “You work with an amazing group of people.” (Interested in the 2020 online Pecha Kucha gatherings? Learn more.)

Indeed. I do. You are an amazing group of people. That’s why it’s daunting to imagine being Ombuds for Ombuds! As the first IOA Ombuds, I take this responsibility very seriously and I hope I measure up to your expectations. I have been reflecting on why some of you may choose to be in touch.

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Welcome Newly Elected Board Directors!

By Marcia Martínez-Helfman, JD, MSW
2019-2020 IOA President

The annual election of IOA Directors has just concluded, and I’m delighted to report the results. I'd also like to take this opportunity to thank the Nominations and Governance Committee, Board of Directors, and all IOA members for participating in the election process!

We are excited to welcome three new directors to our Board:

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Get Involved in IOA through Volunteering!

Hello, IOA -- from your Volunteer Coordination Committee (VCC)!

As a volunteer-driven organization, there are so many great individuals already contributing their time, skills, and energy to advance work within IOA, but there are still phenomenal volunteer opportunities that await eager individuals!

The VCC is excited to share the following open IOA volunteer opportunities. We encourage you to review the below opportunities and get involved with IOA!

Journal of the International Ombudsman Association (JIOA) Associate Editor:

The Associate Editors shall assist the Editor edit and publish the Journal. The Editor may appoint two to four Associate Editors for renewable, three-year terms, subject to approval by the Board of Directors.



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Recognizing Time and Talents!

Volunteers are an important foundation of the International Ombudsman Association, bringing both skills and resources to ensuring this organization’s and the profession's vitality and growth. 

As such, we want to say THANK YOU to our dedicated, phenomenal volunteers within IOA! We are fortunate to have such an outstanding group of volunteers who are willing to give their time and expertise to help advance our organization and profession.

Additionally, we want to say THANK YOU to the dedicated, phenomenal professionals working within our field! Our IOA members are continually researching, developing, and executing sustainable, high-quality programs and initiatives to support the growth and vitality of the professional, as well as the professional development, networking, and mentoring of Ombuds across the world. 

We are asking you to help us in recognizing the time and talents of our volunteers and professionals! 

IOA Presidential Recognition Program
IOA is fortunate to have such an outstanding group of volunteers who are willing to give their time and expertise to help advance our organization and profession. The Presidential Recognition Program allows Chairs and Board Members to select members of their committee or another volunteer who works with their committee in some capacity to receive a Letter of Recognition for Volunteers from the IOA President for their work. IOA encourages Committee Chairs and Board Members to recognize members of their committee for a job well done by submitting a Presidential Recognition Form!

IOA Peer Recognition Program
The IOA Peer Recognition Program is a way for IOA members at every level to recognize the contributions of their peers. Our IOA members are continually researching, developing, and executing sustainable, high-quality programs and initiatives to support the growth and vitality of the professional, as well as the professional development, networking, and mentoring of Ombuds across the world. If you find yourself thinking about the value a fellow ombuds brings to your work, the IOA, and/or the profession as a whole, we strongly encourage you to submit a Peer Recognition Nomination Form!

 

Get Involved in IOA through Volunteering!

Hello, IOA -- from your Volunteer Coordination Committee (VCC)!

As a volunteer-driven organization, there are so many great individuals already contributing their time, skills, and energy to advancing work within IOA, but there are still phenomenal volunteer opportunities that await eager individuals!

The VCC is excited to share the following open IOA volunteer opportunities. We encourage you to review the below opportunities and get involved with IOA!

Journal of the International Ombudsman Association (JIOA) Associate Editor:

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IOA Board Nominations Are Open Until 18 November

By Steven D. Prevaux, Chair, Nominations & Governance Committee

Tis the season for autumn leaves turning, friends and family returning and candidates yearning. Earlier this week the IOA Board of Directors issued the annual “Call for Nominations” seeking eligible candidates to run for election to serve on the IOA Board. We encourage you to reflect on this opportunity to nominate excellent colleagues for this amazing opportunity!

As a voluntary association, we thrive on practicing the very principles that we encourage our organizations to provide such as fairness, empowerment, and inclusivity. We celebrate the deep variety of experiences, talent, and perspectives of our members and invite your participation.

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Contract Conference Ombuds Task Force Seeks Resource Materials

By Roy Baroff, COOP® , Faculty/Staff Ombuds, NC State University, and IOA Board Member

Greetings IOA members! 

Let us introduce the Contract Conference Ombuds Task Force and ask for your help. This is a new Task Force focused on developing resources to help ombuds and organizations planning for conference ombuds services. IOA is receiving requests for this type of information and a number of organizations are seeking and providing ombuds services at their conferences.  Thus, the Task Force was created and we are meeting to discuss and develop materials. Along the way, the Task Force provided some assistance to the Society for American Archaeology with the outcome being the job posting you may have seen on the IOA job board.

With this in mind, we want your help. Have you worked as a contract conference ombuds and do you have materials related to your work that you could share with the Task Force? We are seeking contracts, charters/terms of reference, job descriptions, and any other materials that we can potentially share on our resources page. 

Send materials to the Task Force Chair, Roy Baroff ([email protected]) and feel free to contact Roy for further information. 



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#IOA2020 Call for Proposals

The Call for Proposals for IOA’s 15th Annual Conference is open! Time to look forward to gathering with colleagues old and new in Portland, Oregon, USA from 30 March - 01 April, 2020.

The theme for this year’s conference is

Vision 2020: Innovation, Integrity, & Importance in Ombuds Work

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