Highlights from the Second Annual Ombuds Day

By Katie Swanson, Ombuds Day Task Force Committee Volunteer

The second annual Ombuds Day has come and gone leaving many amazing highlights from this year’s events and theme – Ombuds: Unusual Name. Important Service. In case you may not be familiar with all of the back story behind Ombuds Day,be sure to check out the ABA Journal on What are ombuds? The ABA provides a primer on special day.

A major point of focus surrounding Ombuds Day 2019 was the effort behind pushing cities, states, universities, and so forth to make a proclamation that would recognize the second Thursday of every October going forward as Ombuds Day. And the effort by those involved paid off in a very meaningful way with the response received. On the state level, proclamations were received from Colorado, Connecticut, Texas, North Carolina, New Mexico, Washington, Arizona, and the Commonwealth of Virginia. Joining in as well at the city level, Boulder, Denver, Aurora, Anchorage, East Lansing, Des Moines, and King County in Washington have proclaimed Ombuds Day moving forward. This is only the beginning when it comes to proclamations as the efforts continue so be sure to stop by the Ombuds Day Toolkit for all the details and keep watching for who is added to the list next.

Then of course there were the Ombuds Day events! The three main ABA events in Boulder, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. had fantastic turnouts and focused on bringing awareness to the ombuds industry and role. Boulder, while braving the dramatic overnight change in weather, welcomed Ken Cloke and his discussion on Conflict Revolution: Designing Preventative Systems for Chronic Social, Economic and Political Conflicts.They also welcomed a panel of varying ombudsman discussing perspectives from the different types of ombuds. If you weren’t able to make that event you can review that panel discussion here.

Chicago welcomed Bradley R. Ginn, Ombudsman Argonne National Laboratory, Melissa Reardon Henry, Vice President for Legal Affairs and General Counsel for Northeastern Illinois University, and Danile J. Raker, Senior Attorney, Labor & Employment for Argonne National Laborattory, to discuss how we can work to develop the ombuds service within an organization.

Lastly, the Washington, D.C. event featured keynote speaker Chuck Howard, the first ever Executive Director of the International Ombudsman Association. Chuck was excited to speak out at the event noting just how many steps forward we have taken since the first Ombuds Day in 2018. He discussed some ombuds history as well as particulars about the industry but really wanted to focus on where we can take these roles moving forward and expand the field, “Our goal from the beginning was to find a way to unify and promote the various types of ombuds programs in ways that emphasized their common attributes rather than their difference and to publicize the important services they offered to a public that often had no idea what this strange name meant.” Cheers to all of the speakers and panelists on Ombuds Day 2019! We appreciate your time, effort, and attention to expanding the ombuds platform moving forward.

And while there were plenty of others who celebrated in their own way, it is important to note the meaning of this day and the reach it has. Please take a moment to listen to Rosemary Agnew, Scottish Public Services Ombudsman: Ombuds Day Video and see how Ombuds Day is going global.

As we continue to get feedback on this Ombuds Day2019 and gear up for all that is to come in the next year, there is one last celebration that due to space availability, will occur tomorrow, October 15th from 4:30PM – 6:00PM at Quinnipiac University School of Law. Chuck Howard will be making an appearance alongside panelists from the Connecticut Department of Children and Families, Yale School of Medicine, Connecticut Aging and Disability Services, University of Connecticut and more. If you are in the area and were unable to make one of the other events, please be sure to check this one out.

A big thank you again to the Ombuds Day Task Force who worked endlessly to bring this day – and as many proclamations as possible – to you.  

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Comments on "Highlights from the Second Annual Ombuds Day"

Comments 0-15 of 3

Dr. Jennifer Smith Schneider - Thursday, October 24, 2019

Yes!! We elected to omit "National" and agree that the name of it should better reflect its scope...

Liz Hill - Tuesday, October 15, 2019

A heartfelt thank you to everyone who helped make Ombuds Day 2019 a success! As for the Boulder event, I would like to add that Ken Cloke’s presentation is also available at Colorado.edu/Ombuds/resources. I am working with ABA staff about the possibility of maintaining an ABA Ombuds Day landing page and hosting the recordings there as well. We want to keep promoting the important role of ombuds and generate excitement for next year’s events. Keep the momentum going! If you would like pictures of the Boulder event, email me at [email protected]. The ABA Ombuds Committee also posted numerous photos on social media. Finally, it is worthy to note that we also received state proclamations from Maryland and Iowa for a total of ten states! The ABA Ombuds Day Task Force meets to debrief in November 7th. Please share your feedback and ideas for Ombuds Day 2020 with your IOA Liaison Katie Swanson at [email protected] prior to the meeting. Cheers!

Thomas A. Kosakowski - Tuesday, October 15, 2019

This event has really taken off in its second year. In addition to events highlighting the work of organizational ombuds, the day was acknowledged by many other ombuds and their professional associations, including: the Coalition of Federal Ombudsman; International Ombudsman Institute; and U.S. Ombudsman Association. Although the ABA Ombuds Committee did not expressly intend for this to be an international event, that's happening (see the YouTube Ombuds Day statements by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman UK, Scottish Public Services Ombudsman, and Ombudsman of the Republic of Sierra Leone). In 202, it should be called International Ombuds Day.

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