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The New IOA Concern and Complaint Policy

By IOA

We are pleased to roll out the final process piece of our culture work: the new IOA Concern and Complaint Policy and Procedures which were approved by the IOA Board of Directors at their July meeting. Both the policy and procedures will be piloted for the next 18 months so we may benefit from both utilization and experience.   

Concern and Complaint Policy and Procedures

This has been a long journey. First, we realized we couldn’t consider conduct before we articulated the culture we wanted to create. We also realized we needed to articulate that how we treat each other matters. Perhaps obvious especially to ombuds, but critical to ensuring we are all operating with the same frame. After focus group discussions with members in 2022, it was clear we needed to start with organizational values (based on the values detailed in our Code of Ethics for practice) and community norms. After gaining community input, we rolled out new Values and Norms that guide all our interactions. 

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A Message from IOA: 2024 & 2025 Conference

A Message from IOA

As a profession committed to fairness, we appreciate hearing from members about holding annual conferences in Indianapolis for IOA2024 and Miami for IOA2025. And as an international organization, IOA is always trying to balance a variety of potentially competing needs that our members may not be aware of. We hope it is helpful to share some information that impacted IOA’s decisions to contract with hotels in Indianapolis and Miami to host our conference as well as information about hotel contracting generally:  

  • IOA's conference location is determined by a number of factors including what cities are willing to bid on our conference and if we have been to that region in the last five years.  

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Ombuds Day 2023 Proclamations – Call for Volunteers

Our 6th annual recognition of Ombuds Day is coming up on Thursday, October 12, 2023 and the planning committee is seeking proclamations from all 50 states and Washington DC, and obtained over 30! View the list of the proclamations.

To support this work, “Ombuds Day 2023 Proclamation Request-a-thon” is scheduled for August 7-11, 2023. Volunteering for this effort is a great way to create awareness and improve understanding of the ombuds profession. It’s also a great way to meet and connect with other ombuds across the nation. If you’re interested and short on time, you can skip to the bold text below.

Process-wise, some ombuds requested proclamations from their local states, but most of the proclamations were requested by a team of volunteers. The Ombuds Day Subcommittee prepared templates that could be used for requesting proclamations across the nation, as well as instructions for how to request proclamations. To further simplify the process, the Subcommittee held request-a-thons, or scheduled dates and times for volunteers to work together by completing and submitting proclamation requests during video conferences. It worked well last year, so we’re bringing it back this August!

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Advocacy Committee Update

Advocacy Committee Update:  

Our Advocacy Committee is hard at work preparing resources members can use across sectors to help advocate for ombuds offices in their organizations. These include:  

1) An IOA Organizational Engagement “Triage” Template

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The Creative Energy of a Federal Ombuds

As an Associate Ombuds for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Dr. Belinda Robinson utilizes poetry as a creative outlet. She gracefully presented two examples of how she uses this medium to share appreciation for the role she has within the Ombuds community. The following was shared at the Coalition of Federal Ombudsman (COFO) conference in 2021 in recognition of Ombuds Day 2021:

The Federal Ombuds
By Belinda M. Robinson, Ph.D.
October 15, 2021

Trying times throughout the years
Erase your doubts
And calm your fears
The Federal Ombuds are here
Confidential, neutral, and informal
That’s how we do it everyday
Independent in every way
But we still managed to have
Our own day
And today we celebrate
Ombuds’ Day
Diverse in people, agency mission and vision
Yet, united in the way we work
Providing service before self
And, we’ve even added articles and books
To the Ombuds’ body of knowledge shelf
No matter the weather, crisis, or pandemic
Bring us your challenging dilemmas
And we will stand up in it
To help you determine the best way to handle them
While we provide fair and equitable resolution
Of your concerns
The Federal Ombuds are who we are
Visit us in person or virtually
Let us help you
Cause it’s what we do
Happy Ombuds’ Day
To all of you!

 

The next poem was also shared in recognition of Ombuds Day 2022 (It was originally embedded in a slideshow and was reformatted to present in this post):


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New IOA Resource for General Counsel and Program Designers

By Ellen Miller, IOA Executive Director 

IOA has developed a new resource to assist program designers to better understand the US case law, statutory, and other established guidance relating to ombuds confidentiality. The primer also explains why a properly structured office is an essential component to creating an implied contract between ombuds and visitors to further support the voluntary nature of the work.   

This resource meets a recurring need expressed by both ombuds and those who are developing programs and can also be tailored for other regions outside of the US. This resource will be shared at a session IOA has planned for the National Association of College of University Attorneys (NACUA)'s annual meeting later this month titled Embracing Conflict: Ombuds as Strategic Allies for Campus Counsel

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Celebrating Juneteenth

By the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) Committee

Juneteenth (June 19) is approaching soon. It is a United States federal holiday which commemorates the end of slavery, the day when the last enslaved African Americans in Texas were told they were free. It’s a time to reflect on both our history and recent events and how we continue to work to eradicate anti- Black racism in all its forms together. This is an important day of celebration for African Americans and all Americans alike. We recognize that each country - each culture - holds celebrations to commemorate freedom, progress, and inclusion. May we use this space to share important portions of our global histories with one another.

Here are a few resources assembled by the IOA DEIB Committee to help honor and celebrate Juneteenth and increase awareness and understanding of racial equity and inclusion:

Highlighting the Creative Energy in our Ombuds Community

Being able to engage in creative problem solving is key to our role as ombuds. This level of creativity is further fostered by engaging in creative endeavors outside of our role. Creative endeavors can also allow us to refresh our mind after days of high intensity conversations.

For those of you who attended the IOA conference in Seattle, I hope you were able to experience the various displays of creativity shared by our IOA members. There were the many visual displays exhibited within the Experience on Display program; we had the lovely performance of the George Gershwin tune Summertime by Sana and Chuck Doran; and the conference was opened by Ellen Miller sharing the video with Andisile Best reciting his poem that follows:

As we wake up here by the fireside,
Our hearts and minds open wide.
We shared our stories, joy and fears,
And shared some tears that washed our cares.
For some of us, the wounds were fresh,
But comfort shed felt like a curse.
We were reminded of our vital roles.
To serve with dignity, compassion and goals.
As ombuds we may feel forgotten,
But our solutions will last forever unbroken.
Our work may not make headlines,
But it has power to heal and change lives.
So let us celebrate the work we have done.
As we heal our wounds one by one.
For the fireside chat reminded us all,
That our impact will be felt for generations to come.
By, Andisile Best

 

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UM Awards Ombuds Who Fought to Protect Employees’ Confidentiality After UM Emails Series

By Ashton Pittman, Mississippi Free Press (reposted with permission)

Headshot of Paul Caffera in a suit

The University of Mississippi awarded Ombudsman Paul Caffera as one of 12 “outstanding staff members” at its May 30, 2023, Staff Appreciation Week Awards Ceremony. He fought the university in a lawsuit between 2020 and 2022 as he sought to maintain the confidentiality of employees who had sought his office’s services. Photo courtesy Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

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International Ombuds Association’s first book, The Organizational Ombuds: Foundations, Fundamentals & Its Future: Ombuds effectiveness

Deanna Yuille Bandford and Bina Patel, seek participants for a project that explores Ombuds effectiveness at both the individual and programmatic level. Their research will be incorporated into a chapter for the International Ombuds Association’s first book, The Organizational Ombuds: Foundations, Fundamentals & Its Future.   

Participants are invited to share their personal perspectives via an anonymous survey or one-on-one interviews. 

Patel and Banford say that Ombuds are free to forward the survey link to their colleagues as this will greatly help to collect contextual data. Additionally, if participants are willing to share their story of how they entered and approach the profession, they can email the researchers: [email protected] or [email protected]

IOA DEIB: Creating an Inclusive Environment

For the last several years, IOA has intentionally worked to address Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) issues in our association, not only in terms of race, ethnicity, gender identity or sexual orientation, but also accessibility, inclusion of our international colleagues, and creating space for those new to the field. We are far from finished, and certainly have work to do, but we also know that meaningful change takes time and we are committed to making change.  

The need to redirect our attention was heightened after the 2019 Annual Conference in New Orleans. Some of you may have participated in the discussion following Robin DiAngleo’s keynote on White Fragility or attended the “UnDebate” plenary about civility within the ombuds community, and if so, you may have seen our IOA community struggling. While the goal was to host a provocative speaker that we knew would be challenging, the discussion felt unsafe for many. Others felt that it shed important light on some of the DEIB challenges at IOA for BIPOC, individuals who identify other than male, and younger professionals.

We wanted to reflect on this journey, and share with our members our efforts to date: 

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Connecting with your fellow K-12 Ombuds

The K-12 Ombuds field continues to steadily grow. Connecting with other K-12 Ombuds is an invaluable way to grow as a practitioner. If you are a practicing K-12 Ombuds and would like to connect, we have you covered.

First, the IOA Online CommUnity platform provides everyone with the ability to engage with, learn from, and share resources with other Ombuds. Once in the platform, under Groups, select "Groups by IOA Sectors" and then select the "Academic: Primary & Secondary Education K/12" group. As a group, we also meet monthly via Zoom and would love to have you join us.

To learn more about the group, please contact Monique Bookstein.

IOA Online CommUnity

Survey Responses Requested: Building Relationships and Engaging across Organizations

Dear Ombuds Colleagues!

As many of you know, the International Ombuds Association (IOA) is publishing its first ombuds handbook The Organizational Ombuds: Foundations, Fundamentals, and its Future. Donna Buehler and Liz Hill are co-authoring a chapter discussing how organizational ombuds build relationships and engage with entities across organizations while maintaining their independence and impartiality. 

To accomplish this, Donna and Liz kindly request that you share your experience and complete their survey by Friday, May 12, 2023, at 12:00 a.m. 

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JIOA: Essays in Honor of Dr. Mary Rowe

 

The Journal of the International Ombuds Association

Special Issue Announcement 

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Contribute to Research on Ombuds Origins

Deanna Yuille Bandford and Bina Patel, seek participants for a project that explores Ombuds effectiveness at both the individual and programmatic level. Their research will be incorporated into a chapter for the International Ombuds Association’s first book, The Organizational Ombuds: Foundations, Fundamentals & Its Future

Participants are invited to share their personal perspectives via a survey or one-on-one interviews. The anonymous Ombuds Origins survey is here: 

https://qfreeaccountssjc1.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8hJ12M5XGmKEmxg.

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ABA Section of Dispute Resolution's 25th Annual Spring Conference

Don't miss out on this year's ABA Section of Dispute Resolution's 25th Annual Spring Conference on May 10–13, 2023, at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada. We are excited to bring ADR professionals together again in Las Vegas after three years of virtual conferences! As the world’s largest ADR conference, it provides attendees a chance to network with others in the field, attend quality educational programming to advance their careers, and have fun with peers at social events. Join us in celebrating this year’s ADR awardees and be inspired by the keynote speakers. Whether you are new to the field or have been practicing for decades, the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution Spring Conference has something for you!

IOA Announces 2023 President Award Recipients

The International Ombuds Association (“IOA”) is proud to announce the recipients of the 2023 President’s Award.  

The President’s Award recognizes distinguished individuals for their commitment to serving the ombuds field and/or the International Ombuds Association. All award recipients were recognized at the IOA's Annual Conference 3-5 April in Seattle, Washington. 

The 2023 award recipients are:

Camilo Azcarate, JD, LLM, Ombuds, European Southern Observatory 
Roy Baroff, CO-OP®, JD, Ombuds, MWI & The McCammon Group
Mollie Berg, CO-OP®, NGA Ombudsman, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
Shannon Lynn Burton, PhDUniversity Ombudsperson, Michigan State University 
Jai Calloway, JD, MDR, Director, Ombuds Office, Harris Health System 
Susan CasinoSenior Ombuds Officer Consultant, United Nations World Food Programme 
Lynne Chaillat, Firm Ombuds, McKinsey & Company Inc. France 
Mary Bliss Conger, EdD, Consultant
Dolores Gomez-Moran, CO-OP®, MA, Senior Ombuds Officer and Mediator, United Nations World Food Programme
Brett Harris, JD, University Ombudsperson, University of Oregon Ombuds Program 
Timothy Hedeen, PhD, Kennesaw State University  
Melanie Jagneaux, CO-OP®, JD, MBA, Executive Director, Ombuds Office, Baylor College of Medicine 
Jessica Kuchta-Miller, JD, MA, University Ombuds, Duke University 
Donna Louden, Director, Ombuds Office, National Renewable Energy Laboratory 
Bruce MacAllister, JD, Ombudsman, International Foundation for Online Responsibility 
Sana Manjeshwar, CO-OP®, JD, SPHR, Global Principal Ombuds Manager, Chevron Corporation
David Miller, PhD, Ombudsman Supervisor, Decanter Bay 
Jennifer Smith Schneider, CO-OP®, PhD, Student Ombuds, University of South Florida 
Fred Wright, MS, MSW, Workplace Conciliator, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Victoria State Government 
 
“It is an honor to recognize these talented colleagues who have demonstrated excellence in advancing both the field and awareness about the role of organizational ombuds” said Ronnie Thomson, IOA President 2022-2023.   





















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Driving Speak-up Culture

By Doriana Vintila, Ombuds - OMV Petrom S.A.

We can all agree that speak up culture is an essential characteristic of a people-oriented inclusive organization. Forbes said it, and I think they said it well in a very insightful article on the benefits of creating a speak-up culture at work [1]. Undoubtedly, most companies have evolved from the initial purpose of speak-up, which was to protect them from wrongdoings, and moved towards making people feel respected, empowered and safe. A work environment where members of the staff, irrelevant of their position, feel safe bringing their ideas to work every day will grow and flourish. Speaking up is very much about learning and improving, becoming a better version of what was yesterday – both individually and collectively.

But having a speak-up culture is more than just having policies and hotlines in place. People often refrain from speaking their minds for a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with the availability of tools do so, or where those tools are placed (with HR, Compliance, the Ombuds etc). I’ve more than once heard people say that they won’t criticize a coworker because they don’t want to hurt their feelings or put their friendship at risk. However, isn’t holding back doing exactly that? That is where valuing a true speak-up culture comes into place: the belief that your suggestions, constructive criticism and openness will be perceived as an act of goodwill, both by colleagues and especially by management.

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New Organizational Values/Community Norms to Launch March 22 and Member Feedback Needed on Proposed Concern and Complaint Policy and Procedures

After extensive input from IOA members and other participants, we are pleased to announce the pilot of IOA’s new Organizational Values and Community Norms that will go into effect 22 March 2023. We also invite member input on a proposed IOA Concern and Complaint Policy and Concern and Complaint Procedures.   

Good Day IOA

 

Organizational Values and Community Norms

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2023 Board Elections Results are In

We are proud to announce the results of the 2023 Board of Directors election. These newly elected directors will take office at the Annual Meeting on 11 April 2023. The new Board will convene shortly thereafter to elect new officers.

Thank you to those members who participated in this year's election. IOA is grateful to all of the candidates who ran in this year's election for their interest in board service, as well as the Nominating Committee for dedicating their time and attention to the nomination and election process.


 

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