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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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IOA 2021-2024 Strategic Direction

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

Beginning in early 2020, IOA embarked on a strategic planning process to set the course for our near future – the coming three years. The Board of Directors engaged Solid Ground Consulting as just the right partner to guide an effective and fruitful process.

To ensure that we were addressing important interests and perspectives across our organization, we intentionally involved key stakeholders of the organization, including chairs and co-chairs of committees and task forces, members of our emerging ombuds network, former leaders, staff, as well as additional IOA members. Through a series of focus group meetings and one-on-one interviews, Solid Ground gathered a broad range of input and perspectives to inform our process. This information was collected in the form of a Pre-Planning Report, which the Board reviewed over a series of three half-day virtual retreats in late summer 2020. With support from Solid Ground, the strategic planning team presented a draft Strategic Direction document to the Board and to all other members of the Leadership Group (which includes all committee and task force co-chairs). That draft was revised to incorporate feedback and the final draft was presented to the Board and approved at its last meeting in October 2020.

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IOA Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Belonging Task Force Update

By Marcia Martinez-Helfman, JD, MSW

The Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Task Force has been formally launched. An organizational meeting of forty-two volunteers was held on Friday, 30 October, and a leadership team is coming together. Jai Calloway, Corporate Ombudsman for Haliburton, and Brett Harris, University Ombudsperson for the University of Oregon, were elected Co-Chairs by the group. It will be on the agenda for the Board of Directors to officially approve the Task Force Co-Chairs at its December meeting.

The Task Force members agreed to break into four teams, each of which will have a particular focus relating to the themes of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, respectively, and will be selecting their own team leads. The IOA Board of Directors provided a draft Terms of Reference, which lays out the Task Force’s purpose, scope of responsibilities, relationship to the organization’s strategic direction, and other guidance for consideration, and invited feedback and recommendations for revisions to the document.

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Surfacing Gems from the Archives of the Independent Voice

By the Editor of the Independent Voice

The Independent Voice provides a channel to communicate happenings within the IOA, as well as insights on timely topics and practice reflections from members. This year, the Independent Voice expanded access to the blog so the public can benefit from this channel as well. As the current editor of this blog, I’ve gone through the archived posts to make sure links are still live and to assess the various topics discussed throughout the years. A result of this effort allowed me to experience the great wisdom shared throughout the years related to topics of discussion in our field, pathways for professional development, and practical skills shared to build our capacity for success in our role. This post is meant to highlight some of the archived posts as a means to share the wisdom conveyed with those that may be newly accessing this blog.

A Meatball by Any Other Name (originally posted 12-14-2018)

This post touches on an issue that I’ve seen surface as of late in social media chatter. It is an introduction to a greater JIOA article on the need for reflection on the title we assign for our work in this profession. After you read through this short article, I invite you to share your thoughts and reflections on where we can bring this conversation. [READ MORE]

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IOA Leadership Onboarding Program Recap

By Steven Prevaux, JD, CO-OP®
IOA Vice President

IOA successfully launched a new Leadership Onboarding Program (LOP) with more than 30 IOA volunteers participating on 23 September 2020 using a virtual workshop format. We enjoyed an open dialogue with a meaningful exchange of diverse viewpoints and perspectives. A dynamic discussion of IOA leadership roles considered aspects of our “value proposition” through the lens of a focus question: “Why IOA?” Those two words sparked a range of honest, robust, and constructive responses from IOA leaders past, present, and emerging. To get a good sense of these timely and essential concerns check out the following video montage that includes thoughtful wisdom from a half-dozen veteran IOA leaders. 


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2016 Clery Act Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting Rescinded

On October 9th, the U.S. Department of Education rescinded the guidance in its 2016 Clery Act Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting. This is good news for those college and university Ombuds who have been compelled or who are under the threat of being designated “campus security authorities” by their institution. Read the full announcement and the new guidance from the Department of Education here.   Read on for a memorandum with analysis from the IOA Government & Policy Committee, or download it below.

Download the Memo

GPC MEMORANDUM

To:                   All IOA Members & the Ombuds Community

From:               IOA Government and Policy Committee

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Retrospective on IOA’s Summer of 2020 Community Connections Series

By IOA's Community Connections Task Force

2020 continues to be the year that just won’t stop. However, this past spring/summer IOA found a way to pivot from our canceled 15th Annual Conference in Portland, Oregon to a series of well-received and well-attended mini-events. This included discussions on how members were managing personally and professionally during COVID, important networking opportunities, interesting topical presentations, moving Petcha Kutcha presentations, and an opportunity to recognize the 2020 Distinguished Alumni, Janet Hill.

"As we have all learned over the past six months, everything is new and a work-in-progress."

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Happy Ombuds Day & Chuck Howard's Speech

By IOA Executive Director, Chuck Howard

Happy Ombuds Day 2020

 

Today, on this 3rd Annual Ombuds Day, IOA Executive Director Chuck Howard was honored to speak during the virtual event Ombuds Day – A Recognition of the Ombuds Profession & the Value of Ombuds, presented by the ABA Dispute Resolution Section Ombuds Day Committee.

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Ombuds Practices: The Reach Out Initiatives

By Eliane Markoff
Ombuds - Bentley University

This reflection describes initiatives launched by my Ombuds Office to create a platform for faculty and staff to be empowered to address challenging situations in a timely and constructive manner. In addition, these initiatives create an infrastructure to proactively ensure practicing core values of collaboration and caring. The initiatives are referred to as Reach Out initiatives. The first initiative launched, Reach Out to Resolve a Conflict, outlined steps and best practices in addressing and resolving a conflict. 

The idea and inspiration came to me as I spoke with members of our community who wanted to resolve an issue or a conflict but were hesitant when too much time has passed or were a bit uncertain on the best way to proceed. During a dedicated week, members of our community were encouraged to reach out to those they have or had a conflict with.  Other initiatives focused on expressing appreciation, on apologizing and on requesting and providing constructive feedback.

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