Progress on Revising IOA's Standards of Practice & Code of Ethics Revisions

What Is Changing & Why Is It Important?

By IOA SOP & COE Working Group

In the Fall of 2020, the IOA Board of Directors presented revised drafts of the Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics to the IOA membership for feedback (more information is available on The Independent Voice). We received many comments via our survey questionnaire, during listening sessions, and in individual communications. The majority of the comments supported the proposed changes, but there were a number of members who offered valuable constructive criticism and specific suggestions.

Next, the Board convened a working group to methodically review and evaluate the comments and suggestions from members. That group met weekly and conducted a section-by-section, paragraph-by-paragraph review of the Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics, incorporating many of the suggested edits. The working group exercised its best judgment to reconcile many conflicting member suggestions.

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2021 IOA Member Updates

By IOA

We would like to thank IOA's  1,000+ members for participating in our organization in 2021. Members' support and investment in the association help us continue striving toward our mission to advance the organizational ombuds profession worldwide.

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A Farewell Message from Chuck Howard

IOA's first Executive Director sums up his time with the organization.

Dear IOA Members & Supporters,

Soon after the first of the year, IOA will have a new Executive Director. But before I step away from this role, I want to let all of you know that I have very much appreciated the opportunity to work with IOA and IOA members for the past almost two and a half years. I also want to thank the IOA Board of Directors for their bold leadership in creating this position in the first place and for making it a full-time position going forward. Given the global challenges of the past couple of years and the need to adapt and re-envision everything, including our training programs and conferences, I believe this commitment represents the best in great organizational leadership.

As many of you know, I have long encouraged IOA to take a more active role in the world outside of IOA to support its members, to help create new programs, and to demonstrate the value of organizational ombuds programs for both people and organizations. During my tenure as the Executive Director, I have sought to prove that this mission is a worthy investment. I have endeavored to be just such a champion for IOA and the valuable role of an organizational ombuds through my speaking engagements and writings. I have been available to help IOA members with issues of concern in their own programs, and I have been willing to engage anytime and anywhere with organizations that are considering the possible creation of organizational ombuds programs and explain the key elements necessary for an effective program.

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Announcing Chuck Howard's New Book

A Practical Guide to Organizational Ombuds: How They Help People and Organizations

Chuck Howard

The wait is over! After more than a year of research and with the participation of many IOA members, Chuck Howard’s new book, A Practical Guide to Organizational Ombuds: How They Help People and Organizations, is going on sale this month.

It is the second book by IOA’s executive director and follows his seminal work, The Organizational Ombudsman: Origins, Roles and Operations - A Legal Guidepublished in 2011, which has since become an essential resource for ombuds, dispute resolution professionals, in-house counsel, corporate executives, university administrators, compliance officers, and human resources personnel.

Where his first book provided a history of the evolution of the role of an organizational ombuds and explained the function, Chuck’s new release is a practical guide for anyone with questions about what ombuds programs are and how they operate.

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Thinking About IOA Board Service?

By IOA Board of Directors

Nominations are now open for the IOA Board of Directors. Please consider serving the IOA community and the ombuds profession by stepping into this important leadership role. Several current IOA Board members have shared reflections on their service below, illustrating the rich experiences and impact board service has had on them and IOA.

The current Board along with IOA staff are planning a comprehensive orientation and onboarding to set up new directors for success. If you have any questions about board service, please reach out to [email protected] or contact Board members directly.

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Congratulating Pfizer’s Office of the Ombuds on Their 10 Years of Service

Watch the 10 Year Anniversary Video

Congratulations Pfizer

IOA would like to congratulate Pfizer's Office of the Ombuds on celebrating ten years of service. In December 2010, Pfizer announced the establishment of its Ombudsman Program as an alternative channel to address employee concerns about legal or regulatory issues. Pfizer’s Office of the Ombuds has now spent ten years offering a place for colleagues at any level can seek information and guidance to help them address and resolve work-related issues. Pfizer’s Ombuds is informal, independent, confidential, and neutral. What an achievement!

The office has recently shared a celebratory testimonial video that features thank you messages and commentary from five of Pfizer's Executive Leadership Team members including the CEO, General Counsel, and Chief Compliance Officer. Also featured in the video is IOA member Sue Diviney, the Office of the Ombuds Lead, and her team which includes: Lourdes Delgado-Cheers, Global Ombuds; Tara Hunter, Specialist; Adam Learman, Global Ombuds; Elizabeth Lopez, Ombuds; and Sophia Qiao, Ombuds APAC. 

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Mary Rowe Provides Access to Wealth of Digital Resources

This week brings forward our need to reflect on those things we are grateful for in our lives. As I reflect on what I am grateful for in my professional capacity, I would like to extend gratitude for all of those that helped shape the ombuds profession and contributed to the development of skills to help fulfill this role. Specifically, I am thankful to Mary Rowe for her work over the years and for taking on the effort to digitize and provide access to her professional papers.

You can now review the archives of her papers in an easy to search database created by the MIT library.

The digital collection is available here:

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Call for IOA Board Nominations

The IOA Board of Directors Call for Nominations Is Open

The nominations window will close on 16 December 2021.

We are pleased to invite you to submit nominations for the IOA Board of Directors. This is the first step in kicking off the elections process for the next set of directors. All eligible candidates directors will begin their service following the 2022 IOA Annual Business Meeting in March 2022.


Your Questions Answered

How Is this Nominations Cycle Different from Others in the Past?

After the November 2021 Special Member Meeting, several changes were made to the IOA Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation. Due to these changes, IOA will be following a modified process to catch up after the postponed 2021 election.

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The Results Are In: IOA Bylaws & Articles of Incorporation Amendments Passed

16 November 2021 Member Vote Results

All proposals were passed by a clear majority.

On 16 November 2021 at 8:30 AM Pacific Time, voting at the IOA Special Member Meeting concluded. After a quorum of 322 members was declared achieved, a live vote was conducted for each proposal and tallied along with the proxy votes that were previously submitted. Below are the final results of each vote. All proposals were passed by a clear majority.

Based on these results, the new IOA Bylaws are now in effect. The IOA Articles of Incorporation will be revised and filed as required by IOA's attorney, and then shared with members once available. 

In alignment with these new changes, we will soon be opening the 2021 & 2022 Call for Board Nominations. Please be on the lookout for an announcement email soon. Additionally, we will roll out a new name and logo in early 2022 and implement other necessary changes to our elections process as a result of the revised Bylaws.

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Executive Director Search Update and Request to Membership

By Lee Twyman, Executive Director Search Team Co-Chair

In late September, the IOA Executive Director Search Team began our search for IOA’s next Executive Director. The Search Team values members’ perspectives as we meet the goal of selecting a new ED that represents you, our members, and we wish to share the following update and give you the opportunity to provide input. Our next ED will be a full-time position and work in collaboration with membership, the Board, and our staff to advance the goals of the IOA and the Organizational Ombuds profession. As a reminder, the Search Team includes the following members: Marcia Gee Riley, Juan Lattanzio, Suzanne Diviney, Marcia Martinez-Helfman, Lindsay Jennings, IOA Managing Director, and Co-Chairs Willem Kweens and Lee Twyman. Please view the IOA Board-approved ED position description for reference.

The search process and timeline includes:

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Call for Proposals: LERA & SHRM Conferences

By Chuck Howard, IOA Executive Director

I would like to make members aware of two upcoming opportunities to submit proposals to present at conferences of associations in related professions. IOA members have presented at these and other conferences in the past to help promote the value and increase knowledge and understanding of the ombuds profession, and I have as well. Our membership has a wealth of knowledge and insight to share and I encourage you to consider participating as a presenter or attendee at these conferences. 


LERA 74th Annual Meeting

June 2-5, 2022 – Virtual Conference
"Elevating Voice and New Voices in the Workplace and Beyond"

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Call for Nominations: The Organizational Ombuds Reader

By Shannon Lynn Burton, Ph.D. & Shereen Bingham, Ph.D.,

Dear Colleagues,

The International Ombudsman Association Research and Assessment Committee will be developing The Organizational Ombuds Reader with an anticipated publication date during 2022.

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Get Caught Up on the Past Nine Months of Updates


Find out what you missed and what you need to do next.

Have you been following all of the latest updates on the IOA Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation? Are you feeling a little overwhelmed and lost in the sea of documents and links?

Here is a timeline to help you make sense of it all and help inform you about the next two steps of this process, including participating in one of the October Town Halls taking place on 26 October and placing your vote by proxy or at the next Special Member Meeting taking place on 16 November.

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Proposed Bylaws Amendments Update September 2021

Fall 2021 Bylaw's & Articles of Incorporation Update

IOA's Board of Directors has announced a new process to amend the IOA Bylaws & Articles of Incorporation. Members received an email on 1 October 2021 summarizing past events, meetings, and conclusions regarding the IOA Bylaws & Articles of Incorporation. This email also included information about the next steps the Board will be taking to finalize the proposed changes. These steps will include hosting two more town hall-style meetings and opening a new vote.

Below is a shortened version of the information members received. Members can log into their IOA profile to review the information in its entirety.  


Summary of Events & Updates on Our Progress

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Executive Director Position Announcement

IOA Launches Search for New Executive Director

We are pleased to announce the launch of our search for IOA’s next Executive Director. This full-time leadership opportunity will soon be posted to a number of job boards and will remain open until 31 October 2021

The IOA Executive Director (ED) is the champion and public-facing representative for our association, its members, and the Organizational Ombuds profession. The ED is an advisor to and a leader of strategic initiatives for IOA. The ED builds relationships and networks, working across all representative sectors to promote and further the strategic goals of the organization while advancing IOA’s diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging efforts. The ED has a primary focus on the overall growth of the organization, including membership expansion and revenue generation. The ED works in partnership with IOA’s association management staff and reports to the IOA Board of Directors.

View the Full Position Description & Application Instructions


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IOA Rebranding - Member Feedback

The Way Forward: An Informed Design

In 2018, IOA partnered with Westfourth Communications to redefine the way we communicate about IOA as an organization and the Ombuds profession as a whole. From building foundational core messaging to establishing a mission statement, values, and tagline member outreach and member feedback have served as our roadmap to modernize the IOA brand. 

Here is a recap of the rebranding timeline to date:

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IOA Reaching A New Milestone

IOA Now Have More Than 1,000 Members

By IOA

The International Ombudsman Association (IOA) is a member-led, professional association committed to supporting ombuds worldwide. Formed in 2005, we are one of the largest international associations of professional ombuds practitioners in the world, now representing more than 1,000 members across the globe. 

Learn more about the people who make up our association, where do they come from, and what their work looks like. 

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The Mirror and the Magnifying Glass

By Elaine Shaw
IOA Ombuds

The "mirror" and the "magnifying glass" are interesting metaphors for the work we do as Ombuds. We can be a mirror to our Visitors, reflecting back to them what we’ve heard them say; reframing their words and experience in a way that allows them to see differently, perhaps more clearly. Once seen, we can hold up a magnifying glass to detect and explore what’s there, bringing focus to overlooked details or the big picture. 

I’ve been thinking recently about Studs Terkel (1912-2008): writer, Radio broadcaster, and amazing listener; who famously asked Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “When did this dream first come to you?” I have been thinking about Studs because, in addition to being an inspiration for helping people share their stories, he worked at my favorite Chicago radio station when I was growing up: WFMT. His job title there: Free Spirit. For those who may have visited my LinkedIn profile, you may have seen that I shamelessly stole this wonderful job title. In these last several years I have enjoyed patching together a variety of gigs as a free spirit – choosing work that is interesting and fulfilling: Community Mediator (now virtual and via text messaging!); Conference/Contract Ombuds; Yoga Leader; Book Group Facilitator; Activist; Non-profit Volunteer, Musician; workplace coach, etc., etc.

Something I have noticed in these unusual months is how difficult it is for me at this stage of life to aspire to be neutral and impartial.  Indeed, serving as the IOA Ombuds and as a Bravely Pro, I have discovered that my “go to” response can sometimes feel more like advisor than objective third party. What experience, tool, book, exercise, process, suggestion, trick, tip, shortcut, hack can I come up with to match my Visitor’s need? But what is really going on here?

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August Member Dialogue Summary

An Update on the IOA Bylaws & Article of Incorporation Vote 

The IOA Board of Directors wishes to extend its sincere appreciation to all of the IOA members who participated in the two Member Dialogues on August 12 and expressed their viewpoints and concerns. IOA member involvement and passion in support of the profession in this association are central to its identity and essential to its ongoing relevance and success.

The August Member Dialogues were created to intentionally engage members in an important discussion concerning potential changes to its organizational structure. The membership was called to express their concerns and opinions and the membership answered that call. Thank you.

More than 200 participants dialed into the Member Dialogues to discuss proposed changes to the IOA Bylaws. Recordings of the Dialogues have been added to the IOA Online Learning Center (member login required).

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Executive Director Chuck Howard to Retire

Search for New ED to Launch Soon

Dear IOA Members,

We write to let you know that our Executive Director, Chuck Howard, will be retiring from his position effective 31 December 2021.

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