About the International Ombuds Association (IOA)


The mission of IOA is to advance the profession of organizational ombuds and ensure that practitioners are able to work to the highest professional standards.


The vision of IOA is to have an ombuds office in every organization.

Who We Are

The International Ombuds Association (IOA) is a member-led, professional association committed to supporting organizational ombuds worldwide. At the most fundamental level, an organizational ombuds is one who assists individuals and groups in managing conflicts and raising concerns in service of a highly effective and healthy organization. There are a number of different titles or names for this position: “ombudsman,” “ombudsperson,” “ombuds,” or “ombud” among others. There are different types of ombuds with different roles, functional responsibilities, and standards of practice including: organizational ombuds, classical ombuds, and advocate ombuds. IOA members are the heart and the heartbeat of our association. Membership is important to us, and we strive to foster meaningful member engagement throughout the association.

What We Do

The Association supports organizational ombuds worldwide working in corporations, educational institutions, non-profit organizations, government entities, and non-governmental organizations. IOA works to promote the continuous development of the organizational ombuds profession through its Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics; support of communication and networking among ombuds: its strategic partnerships and communications with professionals sharing similar functions; and with government agencies and other organizations. IOA provides professional development, networking, mentoring, a peer-reviewed journal, a newsblog, and many online resources, as well as a robust and engaging annual conference.

As the ombuds profession and IOA continue to evolve, we continue to look for new and innovative ways in which to best meet the needs of our growing membership, to enhance our membership experience, and to promote the profession. Learn more by viewing our Strategic Plan.

Our History

The name “ombudsman” (OM-budz-man) comes from Swedish and literally means “representative.”  The International Ombuds Association (IOA) was officially formed in July 2005 following the merger of The Ombudsman Association (TOA) and the University and College Ombuds Association (UCOA). In 2021, by vote of the membership, IOA officially changed its name from International Ombudsman Association to International Ombuds Association as a part of revising its bylaws. IOA is the largest international association of professional organizational ombuds practitioners in the world, representing members from across the globe. IOA was built on the traditions of TOA and UCOA; IOA offers a full roster of professional training and education programs for the practicing ombuds professional and those interested in learning about our practice.

The leadership of IOA consists of a 15-member volunteer Board of Directors elected by the membership; standing committees composed of volunteer members with chairs appointed by the Board, and other strategic IOA initiatives comprised of member volunteers who have expertise and passion for specific areas of practice. Learn more about IOA by reviewing our Annual Reports.

Our Members

IOA represents members from across the globe. Learn more about our membership from the infographic below and read about the people who make up our association, where do they come from, and what their work looks like on The Independent Voice our association blog. Also, take a moment to explore all that IOA has to offer by reviewing our full list of member benefits

What Is an Organizational Ombuds?
Learn About IOA Membership
IOA Bylaws