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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 and 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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IOA Is Set to Become International Ombuds Association

A Name Change Is on the Horizon

Dear IOA Members & Supporters,

Recognizing that words matter, that impacts matter, that diversity, inclusion, and belonging are to be supported and celebrated; the International Ombudsman Association shall therefore change its name to the International Ombuds Association and take the necessary steps to effect this change.

As a part of the implementation of the 2021-2024 Strategic Direction Goal 4, 4.7. Develop a process for consideration of a possible name change for the organization, the IOA Board of Directors voted to approve the name change at its January 2021 meeting.

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Standards Of Practice & Ethical Principles - Updated

by Melanie Jagneaux, JD, MBA, CO-OP® 2020-2021 IOA President

UPDATED JANUARY 2021

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IOA Statement in Response to Caferra/University of Mississippi

By Chuck Howard, IOA Executive Director and Melanie Jagneaux, JD, MBA, CO-OP

The International Ombudsman Association (IOA) continues to monitor the actions of the University of Mississippi regarding Paul J. Caffera in connection with a purported investigation into allegations of a hostile work environment, stemming from the disclosure of anonymous emails from university officials to the press. 

IOA Executive Director Chuck Howard spoke yesterday with Ashton Pittman, the reporter from the Mississippi Free Press who has written many of the articles concerning events at the University of Mississippi and the university's actions against Mr. Caferra. In particular, Chuck noted that the process apparently used by the university in appointing an interim ombuds—while Mr. Caferra is still the ombuds and on administrative leave—was flawed. Not only is it not clear why the appointment of an interim ombuds was necessary while the investigation is pending, the appointment of someone on an interim basis (with no disclosed search process) who is the Chair of the Academic Discipline Committee, regardless of any personal qualities of the person appointed, is not consistent with the core principles of independence and impartiality recognized both in the University of Mississippi Ombuds' Charter and in the IOA Standards of Practice. Chuck also explained the chilling effect that this interim appointment would have on the interim ombuds' ability to actually perform the job. It is clear from previous reporting that there appears to be widespread fear of retaliation among the faculty. Even if the interim ombuds were to recuse himself in matters in which he might have a conflict of interest, this misses the main point: Faculty members and graduate students will likely be reluctant to even contact him given his other responsibilities, especially since he was appointed while Mr. Caferra is still the ombuds and the investigation into the source of the disclosure of anonymous emails by university officials is still pending.   

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What to do When Abrasive Behavior Enters your Organization

by Mark Batson Baril, Resologics

In my work as an Ombudsman and conflict resolver I have encountered thirteen situations to date that have involved a leader with an abrasive leadership style. It’s been hard for me to admit, but it took eight of those cases over several years before I really understood what was going on — and what to do about it. In most of those eight cases the teams and organizations worked toward agreements that more or less stuck and the team’s performance improved. Yet, remaining underneath those changes was the abrasive behavior of the leader/individual that had not been addressed in a substantial way.

If this type of behavior exists in the organization we are working with and we have not been able to support the organization in working through it, we are merely enabling a patch to the problem and are not dealing with the underlying system at play. Eventually the negative outcomes from the abrasive behavior will negate any team improvements and come back to damage the workplace and, importantly, the people involved.

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On Behalf of Membership, Thank You IOA

By the IOA Membership Committee

As 2020 comes to an end, and for many, the IOA membership renewal period begins, we reflect on the ways our association has strengthened its commitment to support its members in the work we do as ombuds. When presented with uncertainties and roadblocks due to the global pandemic, IOA stepped up to the task by offering opportunities for support, skill-building, and connection. When IOA faced the difficult and unavoidable decision to cancel the annual conference, our leaders rose to the challenge by providing innovative options and opportunities to share our knowledge, skills, and emotions through town halls, comforting videos, timely communications, improved virtual platforms, relevant webinars (free to members), and a myriad of new networks for caring and sharing. 

The IOA Membership Committee would like to express our gratitude for the tireless efforts of our leaders, Chuck Howard (Executive Director), Melanie Jagneaux (IOA President), and Lindsay Jennings (Managing Director), as well as the hard work of all IOA staff and volunteers. Thanks to them, our association and the global ombuds community have continued to grow and evolve amidst current challenges. Now is also the time for all of us, as IOA members, to rekindle our commitment to the work we do and use our talents to advance IOA’s mission. As we reflect on the change and opportunities still to come in the year ahead, the Membership Committee encourages you to renew your membership now to avoid a lapse upon your membership expiration, whether in January or later in 2021. Together we can continue to strengthen international ombuds practices by supporting wellbeing and communication around the globe for many years to come.

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Updates Regarding the University of Mississippi Ombuds

By Chuck Howard, IOA Executive Director and Melanie Jagneaux, JD, MBA, CO-OP

As many of you know, the University of Mississippi campus Ombuds has been placed on administrative leave. IOA leadership is aware of this situation and has been in contact with IOA member Paul Caferra, the University of Mississippi Ombuds, and his lawyer. It appears that the university has not honored its obligation to respect the confidentiality of its ombuds communications with visitors, an issue which is of great concern to IOA and all of its members. Please be assured that IOA leadership has offered to provide Paul any support it can in this matter and will continue to monitor this situation.

As a reminder to our members, if you ever have a need for consultation and support for a matter such as this, Chuck Howard, as our Executive Director, may be able to assist you. Our IOA Ombuds, Elaine Shaw, also is available to offer confidential, informal, impartial, and independent support and guidance to all IOA members.

Demonstrating Value to Key Stakeholders During Times of Transition and Virtual Ombuds Offices

Image of Sana ManjeshwarImage of Elizabeth Hill

By Elizabeth Hill, Associate Director, University of Colorado Boulder Ombuds Office & Sana Manjeshwar, Global Ombuds Manager, Chevron

We hope you are all staying well and resilient during these uncertain times. Since March 2020, our ombuds community has faced unprecedented challenges and recognized a heightened need to demonstrate value to our stakeholders. This article aims to illuminate how two organizational ombuds programs, Chevron’s Global Office of Ombuds (CGOO) and the University of Colorado Boulder’s Ombuds Office (UCBOO), continue to show their value to visitors, key stakeholders, and other internal and external audiences during these transient times. While our industries may differ, we have identified three effective steps to remain visible and impactful.

 

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