An Ombuds Journey: Growth Within

By Janie Tanner,

Greetings from Texas! I am Janie Tanner and I currently work as a part-time contractor supporting the Chevron Ombuds organization. Prior to retiring from Chevron in 2016, I was a full-time Ombudsman for three years. Chevron kept me around for a total of 39 years and even now, years later, I have this great part-time opportunity. I know that I am blessed.

Most of my Chevron work background was in the Human Resources function as an HR Generalist role (15 years) to provide day-to-day HR support to a client group or as the HR Manager (10 years) to supervise and mentor other HR professionals. The HR Generalist role sometimes meant managing employee issues and finding workable solutions between parties. Mid-career, I transferred into Chevron’s Employee Relations department (8 years) and my responsibilities included conducting interviews, investigations, mediation, and leading facilitated discussions to find agreeable and workable solutions. In each of these roles, I was able to help employees and found great satisfaction in providing that service and support. In some of the employee issues, I was contacted by a Chevron Ombudsman as a resource or for counsel and the position always intrigued me.  

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IOA Ombuds Program Survey

Share Your Insights & Feedback

Dear Colleagues,

Nearly a year ago, in July 2020, the IOA Board of Directors unanimously voted to extend the IOA Pilot Ombuds Program for one year. As we are nearing the end of this term, our IOA Ombuds, Elaine Shaw, CO-OP®, has proposed a process for evaluating the effectiveness of the program. This process will provide support for the IOA Board’s decision-making about whether to continue the IOA Ombuds Program beyond the current agreement expiration in October 2021.

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June 2021 Title IX Updates

IOA Submits Comment to the U.S. Department of Education

In March 2021, President Biden issued an executive order directing the U.S. Secretary of Education, Miquel Cardona, to review the changes made to Title IX under the Trump administration.

For multiple days during the week of 7 June, the U.S. Department of Education held a virtual Title IX Public Hearing to gather information from survivors, students, parents, faculty, school staff, administrators, and other community members about the steps the Department can take to ensure that schools are providing students with safe learning environments free from discrimination and sexual harassment while implementing fair processes. The public comments will inform the Department’s review of its regulations, guidance, and other agency actions under Title IX. In addition to oral statements at the public hearing, the Department welcomed the submission of written comments.

IOA's Government & Policy Committee  with the support of IOA leadership submitted a written comment highlighting the important and unique role organizational ombuds play on many campuses by providing confidential, informal, impartial, and independent assistance to all college and university community members including complainants, respondents, and the administration, writing:

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Romanian Ombuds Success - Newly Translated IOA Standards of Practice & Code of Ethics

International Member Feature

IOA member, Dr. Eng. Ion Anghel, Director of PetrOmbudsman Department in Romania recently shared the exciting news that their department was celebrating its seventh year of activity.

As part of the celebration, the office wanted to contribute to increasing ombuds awareness in Romania. Dr. Eng. Anghel provided IOA with a Romanian Translation of the IOA Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics. We are honored to now reveal this latest translation.

 

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Share Your Ombuds Journey

 Help us explore our diverse stories. Submit Today.

The global ombuds community is filled with professionals who come from a wide variety of backgrounds. There are IOA members and supporters like you with a diverse range of academic credentials and professional experiences.

Unlike many professions, the journey to become an ombuds, ombudsperson, or ombudsman does not follow a clearly identified path. To celebrate and better understand what it takes to become an ombuds The Independent Voice is launching the Ombuds Journey Project. This blog mini series will feature and share the real-life journeys of ombuds just like you.

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Fairfax County (VA) Public Schools Article Share

IOA Member Feature

by Chuck Howard, IOA Executive Director

IOA members Armando Peri and Dawn Clement, ombuds with the Fairfax County (VA) Public Schools, recently shared an article on the valuable role they serve in connection with the special education process, which is subject to federal legal requirements.

These K-12 ombuds engage in extensive outreach efforts to help parents and others learn more about the special education process and are often asked to explain in understandable language the various legal requirements and procedures. They also serve as an informal resource for parents to share their concerns and to help them develop options for special education strategies. 

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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.

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JIOA Call for Guest Editors

By Shannon Burton, PhD

Editor of the Journal of the International Ombudsman Association (JIOA)
University Ombudsperson - Michigan State University

With the publication of Part I of the Journal for the International Ombudsman Association’s (JIOA) Special Issue on Sexual Harassment and Discrimination, the JIOA is looking at the potential for future special issues.  As part of this initiative, we are placing a call for guest editors.

Themes for which the JIOA is searching for guest editors:

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IOA Member Featured on a Conflict Resolution Podcast

Anlaşabiliriz/We Can Find a Way Podcast

 

IOA member, Tom Kosakowski, University Ombuds at the University of Southern California and creator of The Ombuds Blog, was featured on the bilingual podcast, Anlaşabiliriz/We Can Find a Way last month. The podcast is hosted by Idil Elveris and this episode, "Ombuds helped universities to become compassionate," speaks to the benefits ombuds make on higher education campuses. Take a listen.


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ABA’s Just Resolutions e-newsletter is Looking for Articles on the Work of Ombuds

By Shannon Burton, PhD. 

University Ombudsperson | Michigan State University
Editor | ABA Just Resolutions September 2021

Dear Ombuds Colleagues,

I am writing to solicit articles for the September 2021 Just Resolutions e-newsletter.  This edition centers on the work of ombuds and it would be wonderful if we had a number of individuals interested in writing!


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The JIOA Special Issue on Sexual Harassment & Discrimination (Part 1) Has Been Published!

By Shereen Bingham
Professor Emeritus and former Ombuds, University of Nebraska at Omaha

Have you ever observed an individual enter an Ombuds office–perhaps your own–exuding feelings such as uncertainty, anxiety, fear, or despair? And then watched them take leave of that office some 90 minutes later radiating a degree of comfort, hope, or resolve? I have. Countless Ombuds colleagues have described similar experiences with visitors. But how does it happen? What exactly does Ombuds work entail?

Contrary to what our T-shirts may claim, we all know Ombuds are not really superheroes with supernatural powers. But Ombuds do have an air of mystery about them. How could it be otherwise?  The IOA Standards of Practice guide Ombuds to operate confidentially, independently, and off-the-record. Details of Ombuds’ methods and interactions are inherently private and hidden from view. 

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A Message from the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) Task Force

By Heidi Stensby & Melissa Watson
DEIB Task Force Communications Liaisons

In July of 2020, the IOA Board unanimously approved the establishment of a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) Task Force. The group was tasked with helping IOA internally evaluate itself on anti-racism practices and racial justice—and with defining parameters for a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment that supports membership belonging and connection within the organization. 

Under the leadership of co-chairs Brett Harris and Jai Calloway—selected by task force members – the DEIB group dedicated early discussion to the meanings of the words “diversity,” “equity,” “inclusion,” and “belonging”—recognizing that individual perspectives and experiences inform each person’s understanding and practice. To ensure fidelity to the project and IOA’s broad purpose, the task force drafted the following mission and values statements:

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Standing With Our Asian Colleagues & Communities

The IOA Board of Directors composed the following statement in collaboration with the Communications Committee and Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging Task Force.

The International Ombuds Association (IOA) is deeply saddened by the news from Atlanta on 16 March 2021 – when eight people were murdered by a gunman who attacked three Asian-owned businesses. Six of the eight deceased were Asian. Though details are still forthcoming about the gunman’s motives, it is impossible to disentangle this incident from the nearly 3,800 reported hate crimes directed at Asian American Pacific Islanders (AAPI) since March 2020 (source: Stop AAPI Hate).  

IOA recognizes the historical pattern of anti-Asian discrimination in the United States. COVID-19 has re-ignited the longstanding social injustice against the AAPI community which traces its roots to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the Japanese Internment Camps of World War II. IOA stands in steadfast support of the AAPI community. As experts in facilitating difficult conversations, ombuds can – and should – take an active role in promoting inclusivity and addressing identity-based oppression and racial bias. Supporting AAPI communities aligns to IOA’s mission and is integral to the organization’s diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging values. While ensuring that xenophobia is absent from IOA practices and policies, at moments like this, ombuds must take active steps to support individuals and communities that are targeted and hurting. As an organization committed to the respectful treatment of all individuals, in the wake of the Atlanta murders, IOA believes that a dedication to advocacy, allyship, and social justice are core elements to our collective healing and progress.

IOA Board DEIB Update

Creating & Sustaining a Culture of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging

As you may know, the IOA Board of Directors recently created the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) Task Force, which has become a valuable resource for IOA and an immediate catalyst for change.

The Task Force maintains an open line of communication with the Board and recently advised us of several issues related to IOA’s Bylaws dealing with the selection and approval process for IOA Board nominations. Among the Task Force’s concerns were:

1. The lack of clarity and specification as to what constitutes applicable ombuds experience and IOA-compliant practice under the Bylaws, specifically Article IV(B)-(F)

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Get Involved in Planning Ombuds Day!

By Ken Skodacek, ABA Ombuds Day Subcommittee Chair

Ombuds Day is the 2nd Thursday of October, with this year's day of recognition falling on 14 October 2021.  I’m honored to again be leading and coordinating this year’s activities as the chair of ABA’s Ombuds Day Subcommittee.  I’m writing to request your support. I would like to have someone to work with me as the IOA Liaison: this individual would work closely with me and also interact with representatives from other professional organizations (COFO, USOA, NASOP, ACR). I would also like to have other volunteers to support specific projects (short-term commitments of 4-6 hours total). If you’re familiar with Ombuds Day, you can skip the next few paragraphs and focus on the “How can you help?” section below.

The primary goal of Ombuds Day is to improve public awareness of ombuds.  Our actions are intended to educate the public about the role of ombuds, explain the wide variety of services that ombuds provide, encourage greater use of ombuds programs and services, and highlight the value ombuds bring to the institutions and constituents they serve.  The secondary goals of Ombuds Day are to connect ombuds in their respective communities and to recognize their important work.

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Our Role in Building Greater Unity: Reflections on Recent U.S. Political Events

By Chuck Howard, IOA Executive Director

Americans—and much of the world—watched in horror at the violence and insurrection at the United States Capitol on 6 January 2021. However, this spectacle was only one of the most visible manifestations of the toxicity of intolerance that has leached into our politics and society over many years.

Not since the War of 1812 has the United States Capitol been under such an attack. As shocking and damaging as this outpouring of anger and retribution was, it is only one of the crises that we—collectively—are facing.

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Update and Request for the Ombuds Effectiveness Project

By Jennifer Mahony
Associate Ombudsman, NIH

Jen MahonyWhat are the mechanisms you use to create meaningful insight for your organizations?  How do you show that your ombuds office is valuable and effective? What frameworks are you using with your organization to define effectiveness?

In a recent blog post, Hector Escalante discussed The Ombuds Effectiveness Project as well as the work of Goal #1. Chuck Howard, IOA’s Executive Director, formed a project team led by Randy Williams and Ronnie Thomson to address these key questions. The Ombuds Effectiveness Project’s mission is “to equip ombuds offices with guidance, research tools, and training to measure and present effectiveness of their programs relevant to the stakeholder’s goals, in alignment with their organization's mission and values”.

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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!

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IOA Executive Director Spotlight: 2020 Year in Review

by IOA

Chuck by the Numbers Graphic

With September 2020 marking the one-year anniversary of Chuck Howard’s appointment as IOA’s first-ever Executive Director, we thought the start of 2021 would be a good time to reflect on Chuck’s leadership and accomplishments over the past 16 months.

With 30 years of experience as an attorney representing ombuds nationwide, and author of the definitive history of the ombuds profession, IOA had high hopes for the impact Chuck would make on our organization—and he didn’t disappoint!

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Volunteer Spotlight: Julia Heck – Volunteer Coordination Committee

By Tiffany Chen, Eastern Michigan University 
IOA Volunteer Coordination Committee

The IOA has always been an organization driven by passionate volunteers. We as part of the Volunteer Coordination Committee, but also IOA, would like to recognize the efforts of our volunteers that keep everything running. It is through our collective efforts that our organization has been able to develop and grow to what it is right now and more importantly what it will become in the future.

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 consistently push research for our work as ombudsmen on edge and in the forefront.

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