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50 Possible Questions to Open Israeli-Palestinian Dialogues

By Kenneth Cloke,

Many political conflicts are taking place on campuses and in communities today over the war in Gaza between Israeli and Palestinian supporters.  Here are a few possible opening questions mediators and dialogue facilitators can use to encourage colleges and universities, groups, communities, and people on both sides or in-between to engage in facilitated dialogue and mediated problem solving.  They are suggestive, are likely to work best in small groups, and are only the beginning of a longer term process of discovering how to talk and learn from each other.  For additional questions and techniques, see my chapter on “the art of asking questions” in The Magic in Mediation.  There are thousands of potentially useful questions - please add a few of your own. 

Questions about the Process

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Trauma-informed Ombudsry During Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation

By Nadia Ferrara, PhD, Co-Chair of the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Accessibility, and Belonging Committee
 
Loneliness, feelings of isolation, anxiety, and depression are on the rise in our communities (OSG 2023). Globally, we are faced with many challenges due to post-pandemic adaptation and recovery, inflation and the rising costs of living, environmental disasters, trauma related to racial violence, and ongoing wars. Many are referring to these experiences as an epidemic. How can we as ombuds help to address this current reality even as we’re navigating this reality personally? How does this affect our work? How do we support more trauma-informed workplaces?
 
As ombuds, we are not therapists or counselors, but we are holders of space where individuals come to share their lived realities. If we are applying a human-centric approach, we are acknowledging the visitor, we provide support, and we empower them to develop options that are meaningful to them. We as ombuds are committed to creating authentic, empathetic, compassionate, and psychologically safe spaces. Such spaces are all the more critical during a heightened period of loneliness and isolation. Everyone can benefit from a space to connect with our shared humanity. As ombuds, we offer the gift of listening, which is priceless. We cannot underestimate the power of listening.
 
We need to learn how best to be trauma-informed and trauma-responsive; how to identify trauma responses and know when to refer our visitors to clinical helping professionals, if warranted. We need to engage in our own self-reflection and self-evaluation, as well as hold space for each other to listen and learn from one another. Being trauma-informed and trauma-responsive benefits our visitors as well as ourselves as ombuds. As an Indigenous traditional knowledge keeper once told me: “Remember that as an ombuds, you are really a helper, one who listens and guides others.” Let’s continue to help others and ourselves by giving hope, as that is the best gift to give during such challenging times.
 
References:

Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation: The U.S. Surgeon General's Advisory on the Healing Effects of Social Connection and Community. Office of the Surgeon General (OSG). Washington (DC): US Department of Health and Human Services, 2023.

Recommended Podcast:

Holding Space for Ombuds

By Alicia Booker, PhD, IOA President & Ellen Miller, IOA Executive Director

A Special Message to IOA Members

In the spirit of believing we are one humankind, and one global community, we must take time to pause and acknowledge the extreme devastation, pain, suffering, and grief that so many are experiencing in our community, our organizations, and in our world. As we move into the season of holidays and family celebrations, our hearts, and thoughts go to all who are suffering.    

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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?

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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:

Join a Focus Group to Help IOA Create a Code of Conduct

By Ellen Miller, Executive Director of IOA

Updated 15 August 2022

The IOA Ombuds has provided upward feedback that our organization may benefit from the creation of a code of conduct for both members and those who participate in association activities. IOA leadership has begun the process to create such a document, but we are only in the drafting stages and need your help.

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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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Joint IOA/CO-OP Accreditation Task Force Update - Member Input Requested

By Sue Diviney, Co-Chair, Joint IOA/CO-OP® Accreditation Task Force

In May 2022, IOA announced a Joint IOA/CO-OP® Accreditation Task Force had been formed to advance IOA’s Strategic Direction, specifically, Goal 1.4: Develop a program for accreditation of ombuds offices that are structured to comply with IOA and Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics.

The purpose of the Task Force is to explore the creation of an office accreditation program that will pave the way for refocusing the CO-OP® designation to certify the knowledge, skills, and experience of individuals and remove program requirements from certification. Thus, the group is charged with developing a proposal to accredit programs separately from individual certifications.

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18th Annual IOA Conference Updates

By the IOA Conference Committee & IOA Board of Directors

The IOA Conference Committee is hard at work planning the 18th Annual IOA Conference, in person in Seattle, WA, USA, 3–5 April 2023. It has been brought to our attention that the event dates run over or are adjacent to a number of major religious holidays including Ramadan, Palm Sunday, and Passover. As an organization that honors diversity and inclusivity, the Conference Committee, staff, and the Board are taking this issue seriously and considering the potential impacts on members as we begin planning the schedule for the Conference. We deeply apologize for the overlap this year and we will work to ensure that the planning allows attendees time to observe religious activities.

We have already explored whether the hotel is able to move our date; unfortunately, the hotel is unable to accommodate us. As you may know, the IOA Annual Conference has typically been held in April with the actual dates dependent upon many factors such as hotel availability and pricing. The contracts for the Annual Conference are typically signed two to three years ahead and changing those contracts is exceptionally difficult under normal circumstances. Because we had to cancel and move hotel contracts in 2020, 2021, and 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we had very limited options for the 2023 Conference.

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IOA Welcomes a New Ombuds

By Breanne Taylor

Breanne TaylorHello IOA! My name is Breanne Taylor and I am very excited to be serving as the next IOA Ombuds. I have been a member of IOA for almost 10 years and currently serve as the Associate Ombuds at Oregon State University. I am excited to be serving in this role for many reasons but primarily it is the opportunity to work with ombuds across many different sectors, experience levels, and locations that led me to pursue this role. To be in a position to support my fellow ombuds, as they serve their constituents and continue to grow and hone their own abilities within this field, is incredibly energizing.

I want to acknowledge Elaine Shaw, CO-OP®  for all her hard work as the inaugural IOA Ombuds and for the excellent foundation she established for the office. I am excited and eager to be part of its continued success in supporting this community as we adapt to new and perpetual changes. I also want to express my gratitude to Elaine for her warm welcome and guidance as I transition into this role.

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New IOA Standards of Practice & Code of Ethics

Updated Board-Approved Documents Now Available

By IOA

We are pleased to announce that the IOA Board of Directors approved the final, revised Standards of Practice (SOP) and Code of Ethics (COE) at its meeting on 17 March 2022. The new documents are now in effect and are available for download on the IOA website. Current SOP & COE translations include, Amharic, Chinese, French, French Canadian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Brazilian Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Latin American Spanish, and Thai. If you would like to suggest another language to add to our translation list, please email the IOA office at [email protected].

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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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Who Are Your Champions?

By Ellen M. Miller, IOA Executive Director

IOA Is Looking to Talk to Ombuds Allies

Many ombuds have allies who understand and promote the value and effectiveness of the ombuds office. Whether they are general counsel, Title IX or Clery coordinators, risk managers, HR or compliance professionals, CEOs, presidents, chancellors, or superintendents (just to name a few), these allies help advocate for the ombuds role within an organization.

In alignment with Goal 2 of our Strategic Plan, "Organizational leaders in key sectors understand and value the ombuds function, and IOA," we would like to gain additional insight into the perspectives of these allies and see if they can help us tell your story, especially to their peers.  Are you willing to make an introduction?  If you have a champion in your organization, please reach out to me via email at [email protected] or give me a call at +1 (619) 943-0792.

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Reflections from OMV Petrom’s Ombuds Team

By Ion Anghel, Head of the Ombuds Department of OMV Petrom, Romania

Ion Anghel, Head of the Ombuds Department of OMV Petrom, RomaniaOver the last decade, I have been involved in the life of this department on a constant basis, first from the outside (as an advisor to its activities) and then from its core, as Director of this function. Looking back over time, I can say that the Ombuds’ mission here in OMV Petrom was never an easy one. This statement may surely be confirmed by all international Ombuds colleagues who have had the difficult task of launching an Ombudsman program in a company (or even more, a country) with little or no experience on this topic.

Moreover, the last years have been particularly challenging, as we have seen the whole world deal with the effects of the Covid pandemic. I think that in this new era, the importance of having somebody to talk to and address your concerns has proven to be so much more significant than before. For this reason, we have tried to stay in contact with the people in our organization even when physical presence became scarcer than before, to prevent the feeling of isolation and help build the necessary bridges to move forward. At the same time, we have had to re-invent ourselves on both a personal and professional level, as probably many of you have been required to.

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Introducing IOA's New Website

Begin Exploring

By the International Ombuds Association

We are delighted to announce that we have launched a new IOA website. You are invited to visit our new and improved site at www.ombudsassociation.org.

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A New Name, A New Logo, A New IOA Brand

What's Changing & How Will It Affect You?

In 2018, IOA began our journey to redefine the way we communicate about our association and about the organizational ombuds profession as a whole. Today, we are proud to announce and share the results of this effort.

Along with formally changing our organization's name to the “International Ombuds Association,”  we are releasing a new logo, revised color palette, and a refined branding style guide. This new branding helps us celebrate the growth and evolution of our organization and our profession. It reflects a modern interpretation of our core values and traditions while incorporating elements of our 2021-2024 Strategic Direction.

Thank You for Your Input

During this process, member input has driven the overall direction and design of this new modern look. Your responses to the member-driven 2020 Branding Survey, your comments and input on the revisions to IOA's Bylaws & Articles of Incorporation, as well as your feedback on the 2021 logo design concepts have helped IOA leadership to better understand what you think IOA's brand should convey and what imagery resonates most with you. 

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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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Mary Rowe Provides Access to Wealth of Digital Resources

This week brings forward our need to reflect on those things we are grateful for in our lives. As I reflect on what I am grateful for in my professional capacity, I would like to extend gratitude for all of those that helped shape the ombuds profession and contributed to the development of skills to help fulfill this role. Specifically, I am thankful to Mary Rowe for her work over the years and for taking on the effort to digitize and provide access to her professional papers.

You can now review the archives of her papers in an easy to search database created by the MIT library.

The digital collection is available here:

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Call for Nominations: The Organizational Ombuds Reader

By Shannon Lynn Burton, Ph.D. & Shereen Bingham, Ph.D.,

Dear Colleagues,

The International Ombudsman Association Research and Assessment Committee will be developing The Organizational Ombuds Reader with an anticipated publication date during 2022.

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