Exciting Times for the IOA!

By Melanie Jagneaux
IOA Vice President

Wow! What a year we just completed! For the IOA, 2018 was huge. It was a year of challenge and a year of change, and one that has presented us with enormous opportunity. Colleagues across the IOA engaged in collaborative dialogues, reviewed and analyzed new opportunities, made important decisions, established structures and ultimately set up the IOA for a banner 2019!

Management Transition

In summer of 2018, the IOA Board initiated discussions to prepare a transition from Kellen to a new association management company (AMC) by the end of the year. As our AMC provides support to all of our day to day operations, making this change would be no small effort.

In July, the Board established the Management Transition Task Force (MTTF) with volunteers having an in-depth understanding of our organization’s history and future needs. Guided by consultation from Bloch and Reed, the MTTF set out to gain insights and information to propose a suitable management model for the IOA. The MTTF gathered pertinent information, met with Kellen staff members, analyzed historical resource allocation and budget data and conducted interviews with IOA leaders to identify what is working and not working. Equipped with organizational, operational and cultural insights of the IOA, the MTTF compared the IOA’s overall structure with various association management models and proposed an ideal management model for the IOA.

Marketing and Public Relations

Also in July, the Board established a new Public Relations Strategies and Planning Task Force (PRSPTF) as another deliberate act to help the IOA protect and promote the profession and provide services to all. The PRSPTF issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to identify expertise in marketing and communications that could help us create a comprehensive marketing and communications plan. The PRSPTF reviewed proposals and ultimately recommended hiring Westfourth Communications, which specializes in brand development. In October, the Board authorized hiring Westfourth, which since then has been working with the PRSPTF and others to lay a strategy and plan for the IOA’s marketing and communications.

In September, the Board approved the MTTF’s recommendation to employ a hybrid management model for the IOA. The hybrid model includes an AMC to provide operations support and a new CEO to lead strategic direction for the IOA. In making this decision, the Board considered the added CEO role as an essential step in establishing the necessary structural support and staffing to enliven our intention to protect the profession, promote the profession, and provide services to all. The MTTF conducted a search for a new AMC and ultimately recommended SBI Association Management (SBI) to serve as the IOA’s next AMC. In November, the Board accepted the MTTF’s recommendation and selected SBI to join us as our new AMC beginning January 2019.

In October, the Board approved the MTTF’s recommendation to engage a Transition Director to provide support and guidance to the IOA in making a smooth transition to our new AMC and engaged Hunter Clemens as Transition Director. Hunter starting working in this capacity on November 1, 2018 and will work through April of 2019 to ensure a successful transition to our new AMC and to assist the IOA conference committee in hosting another amazing annual conference—this time in New Orleans on April 1 – 3, 2019.

Also during the past year, numerous IOA members joined together with colleagues to produce fine work through our IOA committees and task forces. It would take pages to outline all of the accomplishments of our committees in 2018, but I will share some highlights. The Professional Development Committee was hard at work at new core courses, successfully launched its first international foundations training in Chile, developed the full 2019 webinar schedule, and set a two-year calendar of courses. The Conference Committee shaped up plans for the 2019 annual conference in New Orleans. The Mentoring Committee continued to work with IOA members to match mentors and mentees. The Membership Committee drafted a “welcome email” to new ombuds. The Government & Policy Committee collaborated with the ABA Ombuds Subcommittee to begin developing a draft Model Ombudsman Act. The Standards of Practice Committee conducted a methodical review of the IOA Standards of Practice and has begun seeking feedback from colleagues via survey. The Communications Committee (“ComCom”) enlisted a “Digital Working Group” to address digital questions and concerns related to the transition of our digital portfolio from Kellen to SBI. Additionally, ComCom engaged an outside expert (The Nerdery) to assess and analyze the IOA’s current digital infrastructure and propose an effective approach, including a plan for a smooth transition of our digital information. The work product from The Nerdery project has proved to be highly valuable and effective in guiding the transition of our data.

In addition, on October 11, IOA members around the globe participated in the first ever Ombuds Day, sponsored by the Ombuds Committee of the American Bar Association’s Dispute Resolution Section. There was an in-person event in Washington DC with over 70 attendees. Chuck Howard presented at that event and celebrated the ombuds community. Thank you, Chuck, for all you have done over the years in support of our profession! There were many postings on social media and planning already underway for the next Ombuds Day, to be celebrated on October 10, 2019.

As we look back on this incredible year, we can hardly contain our excitement for what’s ahead in 2019! With the enthusiastic engagement of our IOA members and the structural support now in place, the IOA has the foundation and framework necessary to reach new heights. With SBI as our new management company, Hunter Clemens as our Transition Director supporting us, we anticipate a smooth transition. We are also looking forward to the communications and marketing strategy from our Public Relations Strategies and Planning Task Force and Westfourth.  In short, the IOA has substantially bolstered the foundation we need to protect and promote the ombuds profession and provide services to all. Happy New Year everyone and let’s go IOA!

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Comments on "Exciting Times for the IOA!"

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Mary Bliss Conger - Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Exciting times, indeed! (I'm *almost* embarrassed to admit how excited I am to be able to leave a comment on this blog post with ease!) Thanks for this recap, Melanie, and Happy New Year to all.

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