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New JIOA Article: BELONGING: The Feeling That We “Belong” May Depend in Part on “Affirmations” 

This essay by Mary Rowe describes a poignant concern brought to the ombuds office that helped me to understand how micro-affirmations are a major part of the scaffolding of “belonging.”

About the JIOA

The Journal of the International Ombuds Association (JIOA) is a peer-reviewed online journal for scholarly articles and information relevant to the ombudsman profession. As members of a relatively new profession, we continually strive to understand, define and clarify the role and function of the professional organizational ombuds.

The JIOA will help foster recognition that what we do for our agencies, corporations, colleges, and universities is worthy of study. While we must vigorously protect the confidentiality of our interactions, we can still study and be studied to understand what we do and how we do it; what works well and what doesn't work; what our options are; how social, technical and legal changes may impact us; what the profile and career development of ombudsman professionals might be, and other matters of interest.

The JIOA can facilitate a greater interest in ombudsing, enhance our professional standing, and serve to give us a better understanding of our dynamic roles and the impact on our institutions and agencies. The Journal also will allow IOA members, other ombuds, and other professionals to reach out to their colleagues with their ideas, research findings, theories, and recommendations for best practices and to engage in ongoing discussions of critical issues.

Call for Papers and Panels — The Ombuds: Foundations, Best Practices, and Development

Proposal window: 12 December 2023 - 12 January 2024

The Annual Symposium of the Centre for Informal Dispute Resolution (CIDR) at Saint Paul University — The Ombuds: Foundations, Best Practices, and Development — will be held on 6-7 May 2024, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada and simultaneously online. The 2024 symposium is organised in collaboration with the Office of the Ombudsperson at the University of Ottawa. This international event will bring together practitioners and researchers in conflict resolution and the ombuds field from many global regions to discuss the evolution of ombuds practice.
The Ombuds role is increasingly crucial amid growing organisational complexities, demands for inclusivity and diversity, and the need for early and more effective conflict mitigation. In an era emphasising fairness, transparency, and ethical conduct, ombuds act as an independent, impartial, and confidential resource in supporting all stakeholders. This event aims to offer meaningful discussions and opportunities for researcher-practitioner collaboration in all ombuds practice areas.

We invite panel and paper proposals in English or French on ombuds practice and related topics in Appropriate Dispute Resolution (ADR). Our goal is to foster collaboration between researchers and practitioners, and to disseminate knowledge on the ombuds role and the value of ADR. Proposals from experienced professionals, new ombuds, other ADR professionals, and university students aspiring to pursue careers in practice are encouraged.

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Good Day IOA: IOA in Europe

IOA Board of Directors held its October board meeting in Europe. Our strategic plan calls on IOA to identify ways to increase the participation and engagement of international members across IOA to bring more inclusion to our programs, leadership, and strategy. Watch as members of the international ombuds community report on this special event.

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From MIT: Mary Rowe’s 50 Years of Service to MIT and the Organizational Ombuds Profession

Mary RoweIt’s been a noteworthy year for Mary P. Rowe, an Adjunct Professor of Negotiation and Conflict Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management and a member of the faculty of the MIT Institute for Work and Employment Research (IWER). February 2023 marked the 50th anniversary of Rowe’s coming to work at MIT as the “Special Assistant to the President and Chancellor for Women and Work”—a role that soon evolved into being an early organizational ombuds, listening to all kinds of workplace concerns, from both men and women, throughout the Institute. Rowe ultimately served for 42 years as an MIT ombuds.

Read More on MIT's Website

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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Annual Reporting: Some Inspiration

By Ellen Miller, Executive Director 

The Asian Development Bank’s Office of the Ombudsperson (ADB) issued its 2022 Annual Report in August. The ADB does a wonderful job turning data into stories and does not disappoint with its latest annual report using creative design, an engaging presentation format, and information offered through a variety of lenses. It can be found at www.adb.org/ombudsperson and I encourage you to check it out.  

Many organizations opt to keep the annual report either on the organization’s intranet or confidential and just for the C-Suite. We understand that some organizations may not want recommendations to be public if included in your annual report. I would encourage you to post some kind of summary for public consumption about the kinds of issues you hear from visitors. Nothing demonstrates value more to possible visitors and other formal channels than an annual summary of the impact you made in your organization with stakeholders.  

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Fall 2023 Advocacy Update

From Ellen Miller, Executive Director, and Advocacy Committee Co-Chairs Sarah Klaper and Mark Patterson 

More good news for higher ed ombuds based in the U.S. 

IOA was proud to sponsor the Clery Center’s 2023 September Summit, where we had the opportunity to introduce Jim Moore from the U.S. Department of Education and do a speed presentation on the role of ombuds prior to his session. Sarah Klaper “pulled back the curtain” to explain how ombuds handle Title IX and Clery issues, while Ellen Miller covered the basics of what OOs do and don’t do. Here is a link to the short slide deck we prepared.  

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George Mason Ombuds Office Anniversary and Ombuds Day Celebration Reflection

By, Sarah Ahmed Atif,
Program Coordinator, George Mason University Ombuds Office

The current George Mason University Ombudsperson, Kimberly Jackson Davidson, was introduced in February 2022, and the Office Charter was signed in October of the same year by University President Gregory Washington. We identify this moment of a signed charter as the official act of launching the Office. This October, completing one year of operations, the Office celebrated its anniversary by hosting various programs for different audiences.

The office hosted an Ombuds Gathering for academic ombuds from the DMV area at the beautiful Potomac Science Center on October 20. This program was an effort to bring the academic ombuds in one room to have a dialogue on events pertaining to the field. Following were the program topics: 

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Catch up on and Contribute to the JIOA

By Shannon Lynn Burton, Ph.D.,
University Ombudsperson, Michigan State University

Dear IOA Colleagues,

The Journal of the International Ombuds Association (JIOA) has been busy this year!  Please visit our website if you have not done so recently.  There are new articles and book reviews posted. 

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Ombuds Day 2023

By Belinda M. Robinson, PhD
Associate Organizational Ombudsman - Federal Bureau of Investigation

For nearly six years, in conjunction with the American Bar Association’s Ombuds Day Committee, the Ombuds community is celebrated, recognized, and congratulated on the second Thursday of October, also known as Ombuds Day. This year, Ombuds Day is celebrated on Thursday, October 12. The theme for 2023 is Ombuds: Diverse in Role. United in Service.

Prior years’ themes have paid homage to the professionals who lead conflict resolution efforts and mediation services for organizations, large and small, and regardless of their internally or externally facing ombuds roles:

  •  2022Ombuds: Resilience, Respect, Resolve
  •  2021Ombuds: Exploring Options to Resolve Conflict Together
  •  2020 and 2019Ombuds: Unusual Name. Important Service

Ombuds practitioners are often described as navigators who provide a beacon of light; giving employees, and often the public, hope that their problems can be resolved fairly and equitably.

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California Travel Ban Lifted

We are thrilled to learn that California has lifted its travel ban, opening the door for those who work for the State of California to attend upcoming IOA conferences. Read more in a recent article from thehill.com.

Newsom signs bill ending California travel ban to states with anti-LGBTQ laws

"A California law banning publicly funded travel to states with laws that discriminate against LGBTQ people is no longer active under legislation signed Wednesday by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom.

California’s Senate Bill 447, also known as the BRIDGE Project, officially repeals a 2016 law that prohibited the state from sponsoring travel to states with laws in place that discriminate “on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.”

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ABA Dispute Resolution Section - Call for Proposals

The ABA Dispute Resolution Section is now accepting program proposals for our 2024 Spring Conference that will be held April 10–13, 2024, in San Diego, CA. This year’s conference theme is Mastering the Future: Revolutionizing Dispute Resolution in a Dynamic World.

We welcome program proposals from anyone who can enlighten and connect with our anticipated attendees, who include dispute resolution leaders, mediators, arbitrators, ombuds, judges, attorney advocates, court administrators, neutral providers, ADR consumers, and legal educators. The proposal deadline is September 13 at 5 p.m. ET, so now is your chance to bring your program idea to life!

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Good Day IOA - Professionalization Task Force

Watch as IOA Executive Director Ellen Miller, IOA President Alicia Booker, and IOA President-Elect Sarah Klaper give updates on the new Professionalization Task Force as it kicks off.

Paradise Burned From Marshall Israel, Member


PARADISE BURNED. 106 DEAD, 1000 UNACCOUNTED FOR WITH 2,200 HOMES DESTROYED IN HAWAII FIRE.

Destroyed buildings and cars are seen in the aftermath of the Maui wildfires in Lahaina, Hawaii on August 16, 2023. The number of people known to have died in the horrific wildfire that leveled a Hawaiian town reached 106 on August 15. 

As the death toll in Hawaii reached 106 on Monday, the Hawaiian blaze solidified its position as the deadliest American wildfire in 105 years having surpassed the 2018 Camp Fire in California that caused $16.5 billion worth of damage and killed 85 people. More than 2,200 structures have been destroyed or damaged by the fires – about 86% of them residential. Losing everything including your home and loved ones is something I can't wish my worst enemy. 

I attended the 40th United States Ombudsman Association Conference in Honolulu Hawaii in 2020. I made friends who took me to Waikiki Beach and Maui Lahaina and it was awesome. I took the attached pictures at Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii, United States. As I watched in the news, the ravaging fire wagging and spreading its demonic tongue and consuming whatever it touched, I remembered my friends and Colleagues in Maui Lahaina, Hawaii. Though I have lost contact with many of my friends and Colleagues, I am standing with them in this moment of grief, pain, and loss. I am thinking of them and praying for safety and comfort.

I remember ALOHA which is the true meaning and symbol of the Hawaiian culture and lifestyle: respect and love one another, and live in harmony with everything around you. Aloha is not something that is spoken, it is something that must be experienced. I experienced it in Hawaii.  In Christianity, ALOHA means “breath of God be upon you.” It's kind of like saying, “May God bless you.” It means you do something kind without expecting something in return.

My dear Friends and Colleagues in Maui Lahaina and the Hawaiian Ombudsman, please accept my sympathy and condolences. My prayers, thoughts, comfort, and support are with you…and may the BREATH Of GOD BE UPON YOU. AMEN.

ALOHA,

Marshall Israel

Ombudsman, Mediator, Peace-builder and Reconciliator

IOA Seeks New Association Ombuds

IOA is seeking applications for a new Association Ombuds. This position reports to the President and Executive Director and works in accordance with a charter and IOA Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics.  
 
We are grateful to current IOA Ombuds Breanne Taylor for her excellent work the past year.  Breanne decided to step down given a change in her current work responsibilities.

The Ombuds must be able to create a schedule to accommodate approximately 10 hours a month of work. IOA will provide a calendly link to facilitate scheduling and an email address for follow-up.
 
View the Request for Proposal (RFP) for more information and application instructions. Please feel free to reach out to IOA's Executive Director Ellen Miller with any questions. 

RFP Deadline: 28 September 2023 at 5:00 PM PT



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In Memoriam: Jared Lee

We have some very sad news to share, on behalf of IOA member Jennifer Moumneh:

It is with great sadness that I’m writing to share the news that our team member and dear friend, Jared Lee, passed away unexpectedly last week.

Jared Lee

Jared was a key member of UC Irvine’s Office of the Ombuds, a wonderful colleague, a rising star in the Organizational Ombuds profession, and an overall amazing human being.  He will be missed dearly.

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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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Updated - Journal for the International Ombuds Association seeks Associate Editor

The Journal for the International Ombuds Association (JIOA) has an opening for an Associate Editor! Associate Editors work directly with authors throughout the revision process. JIOA believes in a highly constructive revision process. Associate Editors are directly responsible for providing editorial support to authors to achieve that goal. Specific responsibilities of Associate Editors include:

  • Serve at the first point of contact for authors during the revision process
  • Provide feedback to authors as necessary as they revise drafts of their manuscript
  • Determine when a revised manuscript is ready for final approval from the Editor
  • Make minor editorial decisions and request the opinion of the Editor for larger ones
  • Solicit manuscripts from potential authors
  • Assist with JIOA special projects
  • Market the Journal via email and social media platforms
  • Attend Editorial Board meetings

The ideal Associate Editor will have excellent communication skills; tact and discretion; familiarity with academic research, writing, and conventions; digital fluency; the ability to multitask and meet deadlines; a highly cooperative spirit; and respect for academic integrity. Three years of experience within the Ombuds field is preferred.

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The Ombuds Journey: A Consideration of Multiple Contexts

By Shannon Lynn Burton, Ph.D.,
University Ombudsperson, Michigan State University

Over five years ago, I was asked to put together a presentation to discuss why I wanted to be Michigan State University’s next University Ombudsperson after having served as Assistant and Associate Ombudsperson. What follows is my ombuds journey adapted from that presentation. There, and here, while I do not present a chronological perspective, I do share the multiple contexts that I believe an ombuds must navigate: Theoretical; Historical; Social; Professional and the Personal.

Theoretical

For those that know me, they know I love discussing theory… but more than that, I like making it practical. Theory is often like a computer code running in the background. You don’t often see it running, but you know that it is. In terms of my own code, I pull from two traditions: dialogue, deliberation and public engagement, as well as andragogy. While understanding conflict is a key factor in being an ombuds, understanding student perspectives and growth are really at the heart of this office’s work. For me, these traditions inform both aspects of the office: “student” and “ombuds”. I focus on the democracy perspective in dialogue, deliberation and public engagement, as well as emancipatory learning from andragogy. These approaches have three concepts in common:

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The I in IOA

IOA is an international association dedicated to advancing the profession of organizational ombuds. Our mission is our guidepost, yet as a small volunteer-driven association, we recognize that our size, structure, and limited staff have all impacted our ability to advance the organizational ombuds profession globally. 

Our International Outreach Committee (IOC) has done a wonderful job identifying needs of the international community and has made a series of recommendations to the IOA Board of Directors. In response, the Board has established a special Task Force to develop a plan to implement the IOC recommendations and strategic priorities. The Internationalization Task Force will also consider the resources required to support your work and assess the value of creating a pilot regional project that would create a model for growing the profession. 

This special Task Force will begin its work in August and report back to the Board in the first quarter of 2024. We are grateful that this effort will be co-chaired by Immediate Past President Ronnie Thomson at Sandia National Laboratories and Sam Zhou at MARS. If you are an IOA member practicing outside the U.S. or have experience working to expand awareness about organizational ombuds in the international space and would like to join this group, please reach out to Ellen Miller at [email protected].   

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