International COVID Message

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

In North America, where vaccinations continue and an end to the pandemic appears to be in sight, many of us are beginning to feel a sense of relief as we perceive that the worst may be behind us.

However, as an international organization, IOA is well aware that our colleagues around the world are experiencing grave difficulties and have families, coworkers, organizations, and communities that continue to struggle with COVID-19.

Did you know IOA members come from more than 50 countries?

"...Colleagues around the world are experiencing grave difficulties and have families, coworkers, organizations, and communities that continue to struggle with COVID-19."


Today, regions in Asia and South America are experiencing a resurgence of COVID cases that are devastating countries such as India and Brazil, and tragically revealing the challenge of achieving a global recovery—where all nations and people have equitable access to resources that can reduce the rates of illness and death.

In these regions and elsewhere, it is not only health officials and front-line workers who face the dangers and stresses posed by the pandemic. Our fellow ombuds face these dangers as well. Therefore, I urge each one of us to show support for our colleagues in these areas and to be available to provide the support we can.

What does support look like?

In my view, it can be offering an empathetic ear to our colleagues. Offering undivided attention can go a long way in helping our colleagues feel connected and supported. Consider reaching out and offering support as they may share their day-to-day challenges—whether related to personnel, management, financial or interpersonal conflict.

There are many ways to contact your fellow ombuds in times such as these. Your colleagues who serve on IOA’s International Outreach Committee and regional committees are wonderful points of contact. Of course, I am always available—along with Executive Director Chuck Howard—to hear concerns, offer resources and connect you to resources. To contact IOA leadership and committees, simply email the IOA office at [email protected].

Photo of IOA Ombuds Elaine Shaw"...Consider reaching out to our IOA Ombuds, Elaine Shaw, , CO-OP®, if you would like to have a confidential discussion."

I also encourage IOA members to visit our online Discussion Circles in the IOA Member Center. Here you will find the “COVID-19/Coronavirus Response Planning Circle” and “International Sector Circle” where you can connect, share ideas, and find or offer support.

If you are personally facing challenges, please reach out. We would be happy to provide the support we can. Also, consider contacting our IOA Ombuds Elaine Shaw, CO-OP®if you would like to have a confidential discussion concerning matters related to your member involvement in IOA.

It’s normal for some of us to feel helpless in the face of such an enormous, global challenge. After all, most of us aren’t health care workers, World Health Organization officials, or virologists. However, let’s pledge together that when we are presented with an opportunity to help–no matter what form that opportunity takes—that we, as IOA members, will rise to the occasion. 

In this way, we help one another as we work together in helping to create organizations and communities that are compassionate and caring, embodying fairness, justice, equity, and inclusion.

Thank you,

Photo of IOA President Melanie Jagneaux

Melanie Jagneaux, JD, MBA, CO-OP®

2020-2021 IOA President

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Comments on "International COVID Message"

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Mr. Fred Wright - Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Thank you Melanie for your words of support on behalf of the association to all those who have struggled and/or are continuing to struggle with the impact of the COVID pandemic. I know from personal experience that the pandemic has had a profound impact upon individuals, groups and organisations throughout my region. I am lucky that where I come from I have access to vaccines and a well resourced health care system, however I know of colleagues and friends who are not so lucky. In the Asia Pacific Region we are trying to maintain regular Ombuds gatherings where we can share stories, think about the new challenges for Ombuds work created by the pandemic and generally maintain a supportive connection. Given the significant levels of uncertainty and anxiety it is really important to maintain these connections. So Melanie's comments are a reminder to all of us about what is important for members at this time, and of the importance of prioritizing these connections. I wish everyone well in their 'pandemic journey'.

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