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Announcing the DEIB Framework

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

In July 2020, in alignment with Goal 4 of IOA's Strategic Plan, "IOA has a culture of diversity, equity, inclusion, and engagement," the IOA Board of Directors established a DEIB Task Force. In July 2021, the Task Force broadened its focus and became IOA’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) Committee

The DEIB Committee has worked diligently since its inception and we are now pleased to announce a framework designed to guide the IOA toward a more inclusive organization. The framework was voted on and approved by the IOA Board of Directors on 1 June 2022.

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Hear From the President & Executive Director | Parts One & Two

By IOA

Watch Part One and Part Two of the 2022 Good Day IOA interview between Ronnie Thomson, IOA 2022-2023 President and Ellen M. Miller, IOA Executive Director. Learn about their roles and what's on the horizon for IOA. 



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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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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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Call for IOA Board Nominations

The IOA Board of Directors Call for Nominations Is Open

The nominations window will close on 16 December 2021.

We are pleased to invite you to submit nominations for the IOA Board of Directors. This is the first step in kicking off the elections process for the next set of directors. All eligible candidates directors will begin their service following the 2022 IOA Annual Business Meeting in March 2022.


Your Questions Answered

How Is this Nominations Cycle Different from Others in the Past?

After the November 2021 Special Member Meeting, several changes were made to the IOA Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation. Due to these changes, IOA will be following a modified process to catch up after the postponed 2021 election.

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The Results Are In: IOA Bylaws & Articles of Incorporation Amendments Passed

16 November 2021 Member Vote Results

All proposals were passed by a clear majority.

On 16 November 2021 at 8:30 AM Pacific Time, voting at the IOA Special Member Meeting concluded. After a quorum of 322 members was declared achieved, a live vote was conducted for each proposal and tallied along with the proxy votes that were previously submitted. Below are the final results of each vote. All proposals were passed by a clear majority.

Based on these results, the new IOA Bylaws are now in effect. The IOA Articles of Incorporation will be revised and filed as required by IOA's attorney, and then shared with members once available. 

In alignment with these new changes, we will soon be opening the 2021 & 2022 Call for Board Nominations. Please be on the lookout for an announcement email soon. Additionally, we will roll out a new name and logo in early 2022 and implement other necessary changes to our elections process as a result of the revised Bylaws.

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Get Caught Up on the Past Nine Months of Updates


Find out what you missed and what you need to do next.

Have you been following all of the latest updates on the IOA Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation? Are you feeling a little overwhelmed and lost in the sea of documents and links?

Here is a timeline to help you make sense of it all and help inform you about the next two steps of this process, including participating in one of the October Town Halls taking place on 26 October and placing your vote by proxy or at the next Special Member Meeting taking place on 16 November.

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Proposed Bylaws Amendments Update September 2021

Fall 2021 Bylaw's & Articles of Incorporation Update

IOA's Board of Directors has announced a new process to amend the IOA Bylaws & Articles of Incorporation. Members received an email on 1 October 2021 summarizing past events, meetings, and conclusions regarding the IOA Bylaws & Articles of Incorporation. This email also included information about the next steps the Board will be taking to finalize the proposed changes. These steps will include hosting two more town hall-style meetings and opening a new vote.

Below is a shortened version of the information members received. Members can log into their IOA profile to review the information in its entirety.  


Summary of Events & Updates on Our Progress

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Executive Director Position Announcement

IOA Launches Search for New Executive Director

We are pleased to announce the launch of our search for IOA’s next Executive Director. This full-time leadership opportunity will soon be posted to a number of job boards and will remain open until 31 October 2021

The IOA Executive Director (ED) is the champion and public-facing representative for our association, its members, and the Organizational Ombuds profession. The ED is an advisor to and a leader of strategic initiatives for IOA. The ED builds relationships and networks, working across all representative sectors to promote and further the strategic goals of the organization while advancing IOA’s diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging efforts. The ED has a primary focus on the overall growth of the organization, including membership expansion and revenue generation. The ED works in partnership with IOA’s association management staff and reports to the IOA Board of Directors.

View the Full Position Description & Application Instructions


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Member Dialogues on the Proposed Amendments to the IOA Bylaws & Articles of Incorporation

Members Are Invited to Share Their Thoughts & Questions

All IOA members are invited to participate in one of two Member Dialogues focused on the proposed amendments to the IOA Bylaws & Articles of Incorporation.

These dialogues will provide a space for members to discuss the proposed Bylaws changes, provide input, and ask questions of the IOA Board of Directors. The meetings will include small group discussions to encourage meaningful conversation. 

The Member Dialogues are identical in format and purpose and will follow the same agenda. We will begin in a large group with the same opening remarks, then move into the small breakout groups for 40 minutes. Each breakout group will be facilitated by a board member, who will capture the notes of the discussions and share highlights with the large group when it comes back together. 

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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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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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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.

IOA Executive Director Spotlight: 2020 Year in Review

by IOA

Chuck by the Numbers Graphic

With September 2020 marking the one-year anniversary of Chuck Howard’s appointment as IOA’s first-ever Executive Director, we thought the start of 2021 would be a good time to reflect on Chuck’s leadership and accomplishments over the past 16 months.

With 30 years of experience as an attorney representing ombuds nationwide, and author of the definitive history of the ombuds profession, IOA had high hopes for the impact Chuck would make on our organization—and he didn’t disappoint!

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President Message to IOA Members February 2021

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

President, Melanie JagneauxGreetings IOA, and Happy 2021!

2020 was a tumultuous year for all of us…for the world, really. From the global pandemic of COVID to racial injustice to deep divisions in our societies, 2020 brought us chaos, challenge, and pain. With courage and clarity of purpose, IOA adapted to the challenges of the year, made important progress, and continued with its growth strategy.  We now have cause to celebrate a successful year despite those challenges.

Very importantly, our membership increased by 7% during 2020 to almost 1,000 members. We had more than 270 new members join IOA in 2020 and a phenomenal renewal rate of 79%. This increase in our membership and high rate of renewal is a signal that you, our IOA members, are finding real value in our global ombuds community. Our member benefits, trainingleadership, information, and services are meaningful to you. We fully intend to continue providing the same high-quality benefits, information, and services this year!

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IOA Is Set to Become International Ombuds Association

A Name Change Is on the Horizon

Dear IOA Members & Supporters,

Recognizing that words matter, that impacts matter, that diversity, inclusion, and belonging are to be supported and celebrated; the International Ombudsman Association shall therefore change its name to the International Ombuds Association and take the necessary steps to effect this change.

As a part of the implementation of the 2021-2024 Strategic Direction Goal 4, 4.7. Develop a process for consideration of a possible name change for the organization, the IOA Board of Directors voted to approve the name change at its January 2021 meeting.

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Standards Of Practice & Ethical Principles - Updated

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

UPDATED JANUARY 2021

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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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