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!

"IOA had more than 270 new members join IOA in 2020 and a phenomenal renewal rate of 79%"

As you may know, we made the difficult decision to cancel the 15th Annual IOA Conference as the impacts of COVID made it impossible for us to carry on as planned. Our Annual Conference is essential to our members. It is a time for us to get together, share experiences, learn new things and continue to grow in the field. It was a tough decision, but it was the right one. Nonetheless, IOA forged ahead to create a series of Community Connections virtual meetings throughout the spring and summer. Since then, our Conference Committee and wonderful IOA staff have been working hard to develop our first-ever Virtual Conference, beginning on 22 March. If you haven’t already registered, I encourage you to do so now.

An amazing team of IOA volunteers on the Professional Development Committee (PDC), supported by expert advice, successfully reformatted our flagship and very popular Foundations Course into a virtual experience. Since its launch in October 2020, each course offering has sold out. Our upcoming training in April is also already sold out! Participants in Foundations continue to deliver strong positive feedback on the quality and value of the content and the instructors. I wish to extend my personal thanks to all who contributed so much to the ongoing success of this important course for IOA. We also recently launched a new course called “The Nuts and Bolts of Setting Up an Ombuds Office,” also developed within the PDC by an internal team of fabulous IOA volunteers!

In 2020, we brought a multi-year project to evaluate and recommend changes to our Ethical Principles (EP) and Standards of Practice (SOP) forward with an important action. With the Board’s support, the EP & SOP team launched the draft revised standards to our members and took in feedback on the draft via survey. We also held Member Forums via Zoom to hear your feedback directly. Based on your feedback, the EP & SOP team will continue its work on developing a final set of revised standards for our practice as organizational ombuds. Please stay tuned for more on this important topic.

Strategic Direction Graphic

"The Board embarked on a new Strategic Planning initiative in 2020 and developed IOA’s 2021-2024 Strategic Direction."

The Board embarked on a new Strategic Planning initiative in 2020 and developed IOA’s 2021-2024 Strategic Direction. The implementation process is now underway, with committees and staff beginning to focus on implementation planning, and members of the Executive Committee and Nominating & Governance Committee (NGC) focusing on governance changes. We will be revising our organizational structure, streamlining our committees, and clarifying roles and reporting relationships. We will also be improving our board recruiting and orientation practices. Our requirements for service on the Board are set by the IOA's Bylaws. This year, we received nominations for board seats and unfortunately, we were not able to advance several of the nominees due to restrictions in our bylaws. In fact, though we had six open seats, only five candidates met the bylaws requirements to serve on the Board. The Board believes the bylaws requirements are too restrictive and prevent us from supporting the nomination of many talented individuals. We envision a Board that better resembles our membership and aligns with our diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging goals. In short, we need to make more changes. Please stay tuned for more on this vital effort.

"...Our new Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) Task Force is hard at work... the team is working on developing a vision statement and finalizing the task force’s terms of reference."

At its January 2021 Board meeting, the Board voted to change the organization’s name from the “International Ombudsman Association” to the “International Ombuds Association.” The Board voted in favor of this name change based on member feedback via the Standards of Practice survey, comments that members have made in growing numbers over the years, and dialogues that have occurred within the Board that changing our name frees us to better represent our membership and support our intended diversity, equity, and inclusion goals. The Board’s decision was fully supported by our Communications Committee (ComCom) and was called out as an important step to attract fresh talent to the ombuds profession and recruit new members to the organization.

Ending on a high note, our new Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) Task Force is hard at work. This team, currently comprised of 56 IOA members, and its co-chairs shared the progress it has already made with the Board during its January meeting. They informed the Board that the team is working on developing a vision statement and finalizing the task force’s terms of reference. In the near future, the team will be completing and making recommendations to the Board and proposing initiatives for the future. They envision using the Task Force as an important channel for IOA members to share their voices and concerns related to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging. They anticipate proposing a DEIB statement for IOA and suggesting processes for DEIB-related communications and/or programming. We fully anticipate that the DEIB Task Force will bring powerful recommendations to improve our communications, operations, and strengthen our highly-valued culture of engagement.

IOA 2021 Conference Graphic
Take part in the #IOA2021 Conference, our first virtual Conference experience!

This is by no means an exhaustive list of IOA’s 2020 activities and accomplishments, but this helps highlight the major initiatives that give me hope for the future of IOA. We are starting 2021 from a strong position and with a clear focus on the advancement of our profession. Although challenges surely lie ahead, I’m sure that together, we can make this another great year for IOA.

As I fully embrace the remaining months of my term as IOA President, I invite you to engage with IOA. Take part in the #IOA2021 Conference, participate in our wonderful programming, read our news and announcements, connect with your fellow ombuddies, and share your views with one another and with IOA leadership. We are a member organization — and nothing without each other. If you haven’t already, join a committee or task force. Take a leadership role. Help us make this organization as good as it can be.

Onward and upward, y’all! 

Melanie Jagneaux, JD, MBA, CO-OP®

2020-2021 IOA President

Want to Learn More About 2020?

Review these other resources.

#GoodDayIOA Playlist on YouTube
The Independent Voice Blog
IOA News & Press Releases
IOA Annual Conference
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Comments on "President Message to IOA Members February 2021"

Comments 0-15 of 2

Liz Hill - Sunday, February 21, 2021

Wendy said it well. Thank you for your leadership and the many contributions to the OO profession over the past several years. Your efforts are appreciated and do not go unnoticed.

Wendy E. Friede - Thursday, February 11, 2021

Melanie, Chuck and Board, Every time I read one of the IOA updates, attend a webinar or engage with IOA in any way I am amazed at the leaps the organization has taken over the last five years or so. The communication is so professional and timely. The website is easy to use and contains a wealth of information. The marketing efforts are exactly what we always said we needed. I am anxious to see what comes out of the DEI work.I applaud all of you for how you rose to the challenge of 2020. The online Foundations Courses have reached so many people. I am excited to attend the 2021 Conference but will be sad not to see everyone's faces. You are all doing a tremendous job. Thank you for your contributions to the profession. Regards,Wendy Friede

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