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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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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.

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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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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How Can You Safely Participate in Ombuds Day During COVID

Celebrate Our Profession October 8, 2020

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
  • Highlight the value ombuds bring to the institutions and constituents they serve.

With all of that in mind. How can you participate this year while keeping safe and healthy? Here are some helpful suggestions from Ken Skodacek, representing the ABA Ombuds Day Subcommittee.

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Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Task Force Announcement

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

In July of 2020, the IOA Board unanimously approved the establishment of a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Task Force. This task force will help IOA internally evaluate itself on aligning with anti-racism practices and racial justice. It will also define parameters for ensuring IOA cultivates a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment that supports membership belonging and connection within the organization.

Initial work of the DEI Task Force will be to propose a position statement for IOA regarding racism and racial injustice and recommending any changes to the Terms of Reference for the task force that will better articulate its purpose, composition, authority, and role in relation to the IOA Board of Directors. More importantly, the task force will be critical in the process of profound reflection and examination of how our organization may have contributed to the perpetuation of racial injustice, whether intentional or unintentional. Ultimately, the work of this new task force must be focused on action—that is, doing our part to dismantle the structures, processes, and practices that have reinforced racial injustice—and then building a way forward that advances racial justice, belonging, diversity, equity, and inclusion.

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Taking Our Ombuds Skills to the Protest: An interview with D.A. Graham

By Roy Baroff
NC State University, Faculty & Staff Ombuds
IOA Board of Directors

Bayard Rustin said: “When an individual is protesting society’s refusal to acknowledge their dignity as a human being, their very act of protest confers dignity on them.” (with edits)

How do we bring our ombuds skills to the protest?

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Announcing Virtual Foundations of Organizational Ombuds Practice

By The Virtual Foundations Team

IOA is proud to announce we are expanding our popular Foundations of Organizational Ombuds Practice course to a virtual platform. We will be launching our first course in October 2020!

In late May, a small team of IOA volunteers—which includes experienced Foundations instructors and subject matter experts— began working with Springboard International, a consulting firm with e-learning expertise. The group began modifying and updating the Foundations format for success in an online environment. This work is currently ongoing and involves reviewing and updating existing content, identifying new modes for instruction, and developing asynchronous learning elements such as videos and reflection prompts. 

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2020 IOA Financial Update

By Lee Twyman, IOA Treasurer

The IOA 2020 budget has been significantly impacted by the cancellation of the IOA2020 Annual Conference and pre-conference professional development courses, cancellation of four planned Foundations courses (two at the conference and two scheduled for July of this year) as well as cancellation of one pre-conference core course. The current projected deficit for this year is $254,000. An important footnote here, over the past 5 years, IOA has worked diligently to build financial reserves and those reserves have provided a buffer for this year’s financial downturn and may provide additional reserves to draw upon for a couple more years.  However, just as in personal savings, we do not want to deplete the reserves any more than is absolutely necessary.

The Board and Finance Committee are working closely to remedy this budget deficit and bring IOA back to a positive net revenue within three years (if not sooner). All IOA Committees have been asked to voluntarily defer non-critical spending for the remainder of 2020, and we are looking for ways to gain back lost revenue.

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IOA Ombuds Program Extended

By Melanie Jagneaux, 2020-2021 IOA President

Dear IOA Members,

After a successful pilot program, the IOA Board unanimously voted to extend the IOA ombuds program. Our inaugural IOA Ombuds, Elaine Shaw, CO-OP®, informed the Board that she received calls from all sectors and across the globe. In addition, Elaine presented three ‘upward feedback’ concerns that inspired action of the Board concerning updates to members. Elaine also presented a written report to the Board on the program’s performance for the pilot period, which gave the Board the information necessary to review the program’s performance. The report was favorably received by the Board as it presents ombuds case information in a way that is both informative and reader-friendly. Given the quality and contents of the report, the Board unanimously agreed that IOA members would appreciate receiving the report. 

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IOA Standards of Practice Update

By Chuck Howard, IOA Executive Director

We wanted to give you an update on the progress of revisions to the IOA Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics.  After the Professional Standards and Ethics Task Force presented its recommendations to the Board in fall 2019, some additional revisions were recommended. Earlier this year, the Board considered those recommendations and approved a plan to develop additional documentation to provide more background information for members to have in considering the work that went into developing the revisions. Unfortunately, that process was hampered and slowed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The good news is that we are moving on to the next in the plan.

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A Note from Chuck: Request for Ombud Stories

IOA Executive Director, Chuck Howard, Wants to Share Ombuds' Stories

Submit Your Story by 31 August 2020

I have exciting news—I am writing a new book! It is a follow-up to my original, The Organizational Ombudsman. My new book will take an even deeper dive into how ombuds work and will feature real examples of the types of issues ombuds encounter every day.

To help complete the book and educate ombuds and non-ombuds alike, I am asking for your help in sharing ombuds stories.

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Letter from the IOA President - A Call for Fairness & Justice

Dear fellow IOA members,

Over the days following the senseless killing of George Floyd, people across the world have shared an outpouring of emotion from deep sadness to intense rage as the latest in a pattern of police violence against black people. I know that many of you may be feeling frightened, sad, hopeless, or angry; I certainly am.

It is at times like this that I realize how very important our role as ombuds is to the communities we serve. As ombuds, we are called to help, to heal, to educate, and to find solutions to our visitors’ issues. Perhaps our call to help has never been more important than it is today. No one person can heal the wounds of racism or prevent them from recurring. But as ombuds, we can do our part to help people address racism and other issues of violence or exclusion. We can be a voice to address systemic issues and fair processes whether with our visitors, with each other, within our organizations, or within our communities.

I imagine that many of you are plugged into the happenings in your cities and neighborhoods and are hearing loud pleas for help and outcries for change. No doubt, you are connecting and helping where you can. I hope you also feel comfortable asking for help, especially if these events are directly impacting you. I trust that you are activating your personal support networks, and I also want to remind you that your professional network in IOA is here for you, too. Please use our online Discussion Circles and the LinkedIn Organizational Ombuds Discussion Forum to share resources and support. Utilize the IOA Ombuds Program. Plan to join a Community Connections event. Reach out to our leadership team with suggestions for resources or action.

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Warm Thoughts from the IOA President

By Marcia Martínez-Helfman, IOA President 2018-2020

My first thought when I woke this morning was that I should be heading to the airport to fly to Portland and the IOA’s 15th Annual Conference. The Foundations Course would have already been underway.  I’d be preparing for our Board of Directors meeting on Saturday and Sunday, and excited that the Conference itself would be underway beginning Sunday night.  I will truly miss the camaraderie, learning, sharing, and just plain socializing with you all.

Today, I return to my home office aka the dining table after taking time to plot and execute a strategy for replenishing my refrigerator and pantry.  My son, recently back from London and self-isolating, stood at the curb to pick up the groceries I brought to him as I waved from my car.  These unprecedented times have touched all of us, across the globe, in small and great ways.  Too much suffering continues, and many lives continue to be lost.

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Welcome Newly Elected Board Directors!

By Marcia Martínez-Helfman, JD, MSW
2019-2020 IOA President

The annual election of IOA Directors has just concluded, and I’m delighted to report the results. I'd also like to take this opportunity to thank the Nominations and Governance Committee, Board of Directors, and all IOA members for participating in the election process!

We are excited to welcome three new directors to our Board:

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