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The Independent Voice goes public: Call for blog posts

By The Independent Voice Editorial Team

The Independent Voice is going public! We are so excited about the opportunity that we, as IOA members, will have to share insights and information with those outside of the Association who may want to know more about who we are and what we do as ombuds. In preparation for the launch of the public site, we’re hoping to collect posts that we can publish over time once the new site launches. You can help!

We encourage creativity and thoughtfulness as you communicate your own perspectives and experiences through essays, poems, interviews, thoughtful reviews, etc. If you have an idea, but you aren’t sure it would make a good blog post, we’d be happy to talk it over with you. This is a great way to share your voice in a way that can educate and inspire others to appreciate the work we do as ombuds. You don’t have to be a proficient writer, you just have to be willing to draft your thoughts and send them our way (https://www.ombudsassociation.org/ioa_blog_proposal)! 

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Article Share: Difficult Conversations, Virtually Speaking

by The Independent Voice

If you haven’t had the opportunity to read fellow IOA Member Mark Patterson’s article published via Medium.com, I encourage you to take the time to read through Difficult Conversations, Virtually Speaking when you can. The article provides strategies to help us prepare to have meaningful conversation within the virtual platforms we are now heavily experiencing. The article is not only helpful for our own practice, but is worth sharing with your constituents as they would benefit from the strategies as well.

One aspect I found meaningful speaks to the importance of check-ins at the beginning of each meeting. Our work/family domain boundaries are blurred and having time to intentionally shift from one domain to the next can help develop presence in the meeting for all. What strategies do you find helpful in this article? What other articles would you like to share as we navigate this surreal world we are experiencing?

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Virtual Meetings and the Virtual Ombudsman

By Bruce MacAllister 
IOA Board of Directors

In these strange and challenging times, many mediation and ombudsman programs are having to make the switch to working virtually with visitors using a variety of web-based and telephone-based meeting approaches.  While much of my mediation and ombuds work has been based out of “brick and mortar” programs, since 2011, much of my work has also been global and virtual. 

Making the switch from face-to-face, in-person meetings to more distant substitutes poses some challenges, but over time I have discovered some tips that seem to help close the gap between the comfort and ease of sitting down together in an informal setting to building connections with visitors and others via phone or via conferencing software.  The goal of this posting is to offer a few tips to successfully bridging the gap between the comparative ease and comfort of in-person meetings to holding those meetings from a distance.

Tips:

Tip 1: Observe ceremony.  When a visitor comes to me for an in-person meeting there are several things that are important:


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Virtual Ombudsing

by Teresa Ralicki, CO-OP®, Ombuds, University of Colorado Denver

The following is adapted from a series of articles Teresa posted on LinkedIn. We encourage you to check them out, and then visit IOA's Discussion Circles to discuss your own strategies and experiences with others learning to ombuds remotely!

Virtual Ombudsing: Tips and Considerations

My first ombuds job was at the American Red Cross. Serving visitors located all over the country, and sometimes in other parts of the world, almost all of my work was done virtually for over 5 years. Needless to say, I got pretty comfortable ombudsing from afar.

Many organizations have shifted toward remote work recently. It is always important for ombuds to remain a vital resource for their constituents, but especially so during periods of rapid change and high stress. Over this next week, I will share tips for navigating Ombuds work remotely in a four-part series:  

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Warm Thoughts from the IOA President

By Marcia Martínez-Helfman, IOA President 2018-2020

My first thought when I woke this morning was that I should be heading to the airport to fly to Portland and the IOA’s 15th Annual Conference. The Foundations Course would have already been underway.  I’d be preparing for our Board of Directors meeting on Saturday and Sunday, and excited that the Conference itself would be underway beginning Sunday night.  I will truly miss the camaraderie, learning, sharing, and just plain socializing with you all.

Today, I return to my home office aka the dining table after taking time to plot and execute a strategy for replenishing my refrigerator and pantry.  My son, recently back from London and self-isolating, stood at the curb to pick up the groceries I brought to him as I waved from my car.  These unprecedented times have touched all of us, across the globe, in small and great ways.  Too much suffering continues, and many lives continue to be lost.

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Volunteer Spotlight: Ruthy Rosenberg, Mark Patterson, Jennifer Schneider – Communications Committee

By Tiffany Chen, Eastern Michigan University, Volunteer Coordination Committee
IOA has always been both a passion-driven and volunteer-driven organization. The Volunteer Coordination Committee would like to recognize the efforts of our volunteers who keep everything running. It is through our collective efforts that our organization has developed into what it is and, more importantly, into what it will become.

This spotlight post is to not only recognize some of our fellow IOA members but also to make a shout-out to their amazing team that helps maintain both our external as well as internal communications – The Communications Committee (ComCom).

We would like to highlight a few individuals within the committee for recognition: Ruthy Kohorn Rosenberg, Mark Patterson, and Jennifer Schneider.


Ruthy Kohorn Rosenberg, Communications Committee Co-Chair

Ruthy currently serves as the ombuds for Brown University and she is the Co-Chair of the Communications Committee (ComCom). Ruthy has previously served on the IOA Board of Directors and initially came to ComCom as board liaison. 

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Ombuds Professional Development in Savannah in June

by International Ombudsman Association

Kennesaw State will host a two-day ombuds workshop in Savannah on June 4th & 5th.

Based on feedback from last year's participants, we've developed an agenda with experienced ombuds professionals delivering each session:

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A Couple of (Un)traditional Conflict Resolving Methods

By Reese Ramos, University Ombuds at Virginia Tech, IOA Board Member

As the IOA Annual Conference in Portland, Oregon approaches, I was reminded about how Portland got its name (and no, it wasn’t named Portland because it is a port). Apparently, Asa Lovejoy and Francis Pettygrow, who both owned the claim to the land that would become Portland, wanted to name the new town after their respective hometowns of Boston, Massachusetts and Portland, Maine. They couldn’t agree who should name this new town, but they did agree to flip a coin. After two of three coin-toss wins took place, Portland became the town’s new name after Francis Pettygrow’s hometown. When I first heard this story, I got a kick out of it thinking about what might have happened if these two had had a facilitator. Port Boston perhaps?

And how did coin-flipping become a method for resolving conflict?

Coin flipping began eons ago and the story goes that Julius Caesar, dictator of the Roman Republic, would intervene in serious litigations and render a decision. If he was not available to arbitrate, then a flip of the coin (which contained a rendering of his head) would take place. The belief was that the gods would decide the outcome, and Caesar, in absentia, concurred with whichever party called “navia aut caput” (ship or heads). And so Portlanders, in a way, can thank Julius Caesar for creating the process that helped two landowners resolve their conflict.

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Experience: On Display 2020

By Adam Barak Kleinberger and Teresa Ralicki 

Ombuds work is confidential. It can be an isolating profession. Office holiday parties, social nights, or bowling leagues with other departments do not always seem ubiquitous when we talk with ombuds colleagues. In many ombuds workplaces there sits a solo practitioner, or perhaps two ombuds. Because of the small number of staff and confidential nature of the work, office or company culture can sometimes wane. Engaging with colleagues usually needs to be quite intentional if it is to be a constant part of your world as an ombuds.

When we connect around our ombuds work in a creative way, it brings new thoughts, new ideas and perpetual learning about who we are as practitioners and what we can offer to visitors and the profession. By sharing ourselves through a creative endeavor, by learning about others through our creative pursuits, we can find that connection.

With the upcoming conference we have the opportunity to allay some of these ideas and struggles, to convert them into a physical form. We are looking forward to working on a piece of art to express what 2019 was like as an ombuds or even what life is like as an ombuds. We will then share it with our colleagues and other ombuds artists who complete a submission for the upcoming conference in Portland, Oregon.

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Welcome Newly Elected Board Directors!

By Marcia Martínez-Helfman, JD, MSW
2019-2020 IOA President

The annual election of IOA Directors has just concluded, and I’m delighted to report the results. I'd also like to take this opportunity to thank the Nominations and Governance Committee, Board of Directors, and all IOA members for participating in the election process!

We are excited to welcome three new directors to our Board:

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Get Involved in IOA through Volunteering!

Hello, IOA -- from your Volunteer Coordination Committee (VCC)!

As a volunteer-driven organization, there are so many great individuals already contributing their time, skills, and energy to advance work within IOA, but there are still phenomenal volunteer opportunities that await eager individuals!

The VCC is excited to share the following open IOA volunteer opportunities. We encourage you to review the below opportunities and get involved with IOA!

Journal of the International Ombudsman Association (JIOA) Associate Editor:

The Associate Editors shall assist the Editor edit and publish the Journal. The Editor may appoint two to four Associate Editors for renewable, three-year terms, subject to approval by the Board of Directors.



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Recognizing Time and Talents!

Volunteers are an important foundation of the International Ombudsman Association, bringing both skills and resources to ensuring this organization’s and the profession's vitality and growth. 

As such, we want to say THANK YOU to our dedicated, phenomenal volunteers within IOA! We are fortunate to have such an outstanding group of volunteers who are willing to give their time and expertise to help advance our organization and profession.

Additionally, we want to say THANK YOU to the dedicated, phenomenal professionals working within our field! Our IOA members are continually researching, developing, and executing sustainable, high-quality programs and initiatives to support the growth and vitality of the professional, as well as the professional development, networking, and mentoring of Ombuds across the world. 

We are asking you to help us in recognizing the time and talents of our volunteers and professionals! 

IOA Presidential Recognition Program
IOA is fortunate to have such an outstanding group of volunteers who are willing to give their time and expertise to help advance our organization and profession. The Presidential Recognition Program allows Chairs and Board Members to select members of their committee or another volunteer who works with their committee in some capacity to receive a Letter of Recognition for Volunteers from the IOA President for their work. IOA encourages Committee Chairs and Board Members to recognize members of their committee for a job well done by submitting a Presidential Recognition Form!

IOA Peer Recognition Program
The IOA Peer Recognition Program is a way for IOA members at every level to recognize the contributions of their peers. Our IOA members are continually researching, developing, and executing sustainable, high-quality programs and initiatives to support the growth and vitality of the professional, as well as the professional development, networking, and mentoring of Ombuds across the world. If you find yourself thinking about the value a fellow ombuds brings to your work, the IOA, and/or the profession as a whole, we strongly encourage you to submit a Peer Recognition Nomination Form!

 

An Update from JIOA

By Shannon Lynn Burton, Ph.D., University Ombudsperson, Michigan State University
Editor, Journal of the International Ombudsman Association

Dear Colleagues,

A lot has been happening with the Journal of the International Ombudsman Association (JIOA) this month! If you have not visited our page lately, please do so soon. There have been three new articles posted in the past two weeks. These are:

  1. “The Faculty Ombudsperson: Maintaining Civility and Academic Freedom in Higher Education” by Clara Wajngurt;
  2. “Abrasive Conduct in Higher Education and the Ombuds Role” by Hector Escalante; and
  3. “Ombuds Interventions in Encouraging Covenantal Research Collaborations: I am with You Always, Now and Beyond the End of Our Study” by Nancy Day, Mary Sue Love, and Gregory K. Stephens.

The JIOA also has some new books available for review.  If you are interested in reviewing one of the following books, please e-mail us at [email protected]. The current available books for review are:


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Get Involved in IOA through Volunteering!

Hello, IOA -- from your Volunteer Coordination Committee (VCC)!

As a volunteer-driven organization, there are so many great individuals already contributing their time, skills, and energy to advancing work within IOA, but there are still phenomenal volunteer opportunities that await eager individuals!

The VCC is excited to share the following open IOA volunteer opportunities. We encourage you to review the below opportunities and get involved with IOA!

Journal of the International Ombudsman Association (JIOA) Associate Editor:

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Tensions & Progress in the IOA

By Mary Bliss Conger, Ed.D.

There is a lot to like about volunteering with IOA. First on the list is the collegiality, followed closely by myriad opportunities to learn, collaborate, and help shape the future of the ombud world. However, as an involved IOA volunteer, I’ve often been taken aback by how hard it is to get things done in this organization at times. This remark may seem harsh, but I sincerely offer it more as perplexed observation than sour complaint. Why, given the abundance of talent, good will, and motivation pulsing through IOA’s volunteer corps, is it so tough to see and feel progress sometimes?

Don’t get me wrong: It’s been a banner year for IOA--much has gotten done. A new management company, a public relations campaign, a new website, a new ED, a record-breaking conference, and more. Plenty of good work is happening. Even so, my experience these past six years has been that getting things done with IOA often feels harder--somehow more fraught, more confusing--than it needs to be. 

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Conference Highlights: Asia Pacific RAC in Manila

By Fred Wright and Sophia Qiao, AP-RAC Co-Chairs

The AP-RAC (Asia Pacific Regional Advisory Committee) held its 4th annual conference in Manila from 16-18 October 2019. Sixteen members and two guests were warmly and generously hosted by the Office of the Ombudsperson of the Asia Development bank (ADB).  

Wayne Blair, Ombudsperson, ADB together with his colleagues Gigi Alejandro, Arlene Pantua and Erson Palermo created a comprehensive and stimulating agenda dealing with a range of important contemporary issues confronting Omuds practitioners in the Asia Pacific Region.

Over the course of three days, participants dealt with sexual harassment in organisations (facilitated by Lily Xu, United Technologies); the ombuds' relationship with formal processes (Wayne Blair, ADB); the challenges of working in geographically dispersed and multicultural environments (Caroline Wanyonyi and Faye Antolin, International Committee of the Red Cross); and about the importance of personal and professional development through a regular, structured supervision program that supports ethical and reflective practice (Fred Wright, Govt of Victoria). Herb Waye, Ombudsman for  the Internet Corporation for assigned Numbers and Names, also facilitated an interesting and contemporary session about online dispute resolution; Gurmeet Kaur, Head Ombudsperson for Home Credit India, discussed the ombud’s roles around the evolving dynamics of Indian women’s empowerment.

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IOA Board Nominations Are Open Until 18 November

By Steven D. Prevaux, Chair, Nominations & Governance Committee

Tis the season for autumn leaves turning, friends and family returning and candidates yearning. Earlier this week the IOA Board of Directors issued the annual “Call for Nominations” seeking eligible candidates to run for election to serve on the IOA Board. We encourage you to reflect on this opportunity to nominate excellent colleagues for this amazing opportunity!

As a voluntary association, we thrive on practicing the very principles that we encourage our organizations to provide such as fairness, empowerment, and inclusivity. We celebrate the deep variety of experiences, talent, and perspectives of our members and invite your participation.

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Contract Conference Ombuds Task Force Seeks Resource Materials

By Roy Baroff, COOP® , Faculty/Staff Ombuds, NC State University, and IOA Board Member

Greetings IOA members! 

Let us introduce the Contract Conference Ombuds Task Force and ask for your help. This is a new Task Force focused on developing resources to help ombuds and organizations planning for conference ombuds services. IOA is receiving requests for this type of information and a number of organizations are seeking and providing ombuds services at their conferences.  Thus, the Task Force was created and we are meeting to discuss and develop materials. Along the way, the Task Force provided some assistance to the Society for American Archaeology with the outcome being the job posting you may have seen on the IOA job board.

With this in mind, we want your help. Have you worked as a contract conference ombuds and do you have materials related to your work that you could share with the Task Force? We are seeking contracts, charters/terms of reference, job descriptions, and any other materials that we can potentially share on our resources page. 

Send materials to the Task Force Chair, Roy Baroff ([email protected]) and feel free to contact Roy for further information. 



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#IOA2020 Call for Proposals

The Call for Proposals for IOA’s 15th Annual Conference is open! Time to look forward to gathering with colleagues old and new in Portland, Oregon, USA from 30 March - 01 April, 2020.

The theme for this year’s conference is

Vision 2020: Innovation, Integrity, & Importance in Ombuds Work

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IOA Board of Directors Spotlight - Steve Prevaux

by Jennifer Smith Schneider, Ph.D., Student Ombuds, University of South Florida
Editor, The Independent Voice

Steve Prevaux, who is my colleague at USF, was appointed to the IOA Board in August. In an effort to promote transparency and enhance our sense of community, I asked Steve to respond to a few questions (some of which are serious and others that are less so), and I want to share his responses with you here. I think the world of Steve, as a professional and as a human. I feel certain that you will enjoy getting to know him better. Enjoy the read!

What motivated you to become a leader in IOA?

The IOA is poised to make a very positive difference in the directional development of the future organizational ombuds practice. Colleagues have expressed that my governance background and experience with rapidly developing organizations would be helpful as our Board navigates strategic decision points during a period of rapid change. My home university has successfully closed the graduation gap among students, regardless of race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status. This ethos is also a nice fit for the IOA’s current culture of sustainable inclusivity. We are now reaching for the next level of success- onward and upward!

What is your biggest goal for your time on the Board?

Creating clear and transparent processes that add consistent value! We have reached a crucial point in the organizational development of the IOA. Now is a great time to have an authentic dialogue about our future strategic direction with an eye towards positive change management. The consensus we build around our core leadership focus and resulting practices should increase transparency to members and boost our overall effectiveness. The recent hire of our first Executive Director is a solid step in this direction, and I look forward to collaborating with him during my service on the Board to promote IOA success. 


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