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IOA Board Nominations Are Open Until 18 November

By Steven D. Prevaux, Chair, Nominations & Governance Committee

Tis the season for autumn leaves turning, friends and family returning and candidates yearning. Earlier this week the IOA Board of Directors issued the annual “Call for Nominations” seeking eligible candidates to run for election to serve on the IOA Board. We encourage you to reflect on this opportunity to nominate excellent colleagues for this amazing opportunity!

As a voluntary association, we thrive on practicing the very principles that we encourage our organizations to provide such as fairness, empowerment, and inclusivity. We celebrate the deep variety of experiences, talent, and perspectives of our members and invite your participation.

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Contract Conference Ombuds Task Force Seeks Resource Materials

By Roy Baroff, COOP® , Faculty/Staff Ombuds, NC State University, and IOA Board Member

Greetings IOA members! 

Let us introduce the Contract Conference Ombuds Task Force and ask for your help. This is a new Task Force focused on developing resources to help ombuds and organizations planning for conference ombuds services. IOA is receiving requests for this type of information and a number of organizations are seeking and providing ombuds services at their conferences.  Thus, the Task Force was created and we are meeting to discuss and develop materials. Along the way, the Task Force provided some assistance to the Society for American Archaeology with the outcome being the job posting you may have seen on the IOA job board.

With this in mind, we want your help. Have you worked as a contract conference ombuds and do you have materials related to your work that you could share with the Task Force? We are seeking contracts, charters/terms of reference, job descriptions, and any other materials that we can potentially share on our resources page. 

Send materials to the Task Force Chair, Roy Baroff ([email protected]) and feel free to contact Roy for further information. 



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Update on the Action Collaborative on Preventing Sexual Harassment in Higher Education

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

Greetings, Colleagues –

I want to share with you this letter I received from the National Academies' Action Collaborative on Preventing Sexual Harassment in Higher Education acknowledging the IOA as a founding member of this very important effort to address sexual misconduct in academia. IOA has made a four-year commitment to this effort. Hats off to Jessica Kuchta-Miller, IOA Board member and Government & Policy Committee Co-Chair, for bringing this opportunity to the IOA.

The Action Collaborative will host an annual summit every fall in a different part of the country. The Summit is an opportunity to gather information, engage in a dialogue, gain diverse perspectives on how to effectively prevent sexual harassment and abuse, and ultimately identify and elevate promising practices for preventing sexual harassment and abuse. This year's Summit will be held November 19 - 20, 2019 at the University of Washington in Seattle, and is free and open to the public. Jessica Kutcha-Miller and Chuck Howard will be attending on behalf of IOA, and will be sharing information about the value and effectiveness of ombuds programs with Summit participants.



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Read Chuck Howard's Ombuds Day Keynote Address

IOA Executive Director Chuck Howard gave the keynote address at the Ombuds Day event held on 10 October 2019 in Washington DC. Read on for the full transcript of Chuck's speech.Chuck Howard Speaking at 2019 Ombuds Day in Washington DC

This is the second year of Ombuds Day celebrations. Last year, the inaugural Ombuds Day event was held here in Washington to an overflow crowd with a waiting list. This year, there are three main Ombuds Day events—here, in Chicago, and in Boulder, Colorado—as well as an Ombuds Day event in Connecticut on October 15th, with the delay necessitated by lack of space for it on the 10th. We have several state proclamations—from the governors of Colorado, Maryland, Connecticut, New Mexico, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia, as well as proclamations from the Mayor of Washington, D.C. and from at least 8 local governments. There are also numerous events being hosted by ombuds offices at companies, universities, and other organizations.  I think this is remarkable progress for only the second year, and I hope next year’s celebrations will be even bigger and more numerous.


Before I turn to my main remarks, however, l would like to give a bit of background on what the ABA DRS Ombuds Committee is, what it has tried to accomplish, and how Ombuds Day celebrations came about.
I don’t know when the first ABA Ombuds Committee was organized, but one existed in the early 2000s, as it was very instrumental in helping to achieve ABA adoption of two important ombuds resolutions by the ABA House of Delegates in 2001 and 2004. These resolutions help standardize the terminology for the different types of ombuds programs—classical, advocate, and organizational. They also set forth standards for the creation and operation of these programs. These have been foundational documents in the growth of the ombuds field in the United States. this is remarkable progress for only the second year, and I hope next year’s celebrations will be even bigger and more numerous.

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IOA Announces Inaugural Executive Director

By Marcia Martínez-Helfman, 2019–2020 IOA President & Lee Twyman, Chair, Executive Director Search Committee

Dear IOA Members & Supporters,

The selection of an executive director concludes IOA’s organizational transition to a hybrid management model. We are pleased to have received a large number of very strong applicants deeply interested in the work of the IOA. Earlier this year, finalists were interviewed and the IOA Board of Directors unanimously agreed to offer the Executive Director position to Chuck Howard. Chuck will officially begin on 1 September 2019.We are delighted to announce that Charles (Chuck) Howard has agreed to serve as the inaugural Executive Director for the International Ombudsman Association.

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Changes on the IOA Board of Directors and a Call for Nominations

By Kerry Egdorf, IOA Board Member & Chair, Nominations and Governance Committee

On behalf of the IOA Board of Directors and with great appreciation, IOA says goodbye to two members of the Board who have resigned due to personal and professional commitments. Ruthy Kohorn Rosenberg served on the Board from April 2018 to July 2019, including one year of service as the IOA Secretary. Elaine Shaw served on the Board from April 2018 to July 2019, including four months of service as the IOA Secretary. We are grateful for their passion and participation! 

This July, the Board of Directors elected Ronnie Thomson as the new 2019–2020 IOA Secretary. Congratulations, Ronnie, and thank you!

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Promoting Our Profession Through Collaboration

By Christina Sabee, PhD, Employee Ombudsperson, San Francisco State University & Jessica Kuchta-Miller, CO-OP®, JD, Staff Ombudsperson, Washington University in St. Louis

A recent IOA press release about IOA’s participation in the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s (NASEM) Action Collaborative on Preventing Sexual Harassment in Higher Education describes an exciting collaboration among 28 founding organizations and more than 50 sponsoring organizations. This initiative focuses on prevention, response, remediation, and evaluation of policies and practices for addressing sexual harassment on college and university campuses. The process of developing this collaborative began with the issuance of a June 2018 report from NASEM that focused on understanding the climate created by the sexual harassment of women on college and university campuses and in which the organizational ombuds role was featured. From there, NASEM hosted a convocation in November of 2018 during which members built on the recommendations from this report and other sources to discuss strategies and share practices that might address this important issue. The Action Collaborative was announced as an idea at this convocation.

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How Can IOA Be a Better Member Organization? A Conversation

By Cynthia Joyce, University Ombudsperson, University of Iowa, and Marcia Martínez-Helfman, Associate Ombuds, University of Pennsylvania and IOA President, 2018-2020

Marcia Martínez-Helfman: At the Annual Conference in New Orleans this year, I had the good fortune to meet Cynthia Joyce, a long time IOA member who has had a mixed experience with the organization. At my urging, Cynthia shared with me more about her concerns. The conversation was substantive, frank, and enlightening for both of us. Although each of us would be shortly going our separate ways from NOLA, we both wanted to keep talking and felt it would be instructive and constructive to share our exchange with a wider audience. So here we are. Our hope is that this is the beginning of an extended dialogue between the membership and volunteer leaders, through monthly blog posts, taking us to a better IOA! I want to start by asking Cynthia how long she’s been an IOA member, and to tell me about the early experiences with the organization, some of which left her with a bad taste in her mouth.

Cynthia Joyce: Marcia, I wanted to start on a lighter note and point out the connection between our two offices. The reason the University of Iowa has an ombuds office is Penn. A former UI president, James Freedman, came to Iowa from Penn, where he had served as a faculty ombuds. When he arrived on the UI campus, he asked where the ombuds office was, and, when told there wasn’t one, asked a faculty committee to explore the idea of starting an ombuds office. I think history matters, and I appreciate the fact that our office started in a positive way, providing a needed resource to campus, rather than evolving out of a crisis.

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Exciting Times for the IOA!

By Melanie Jagneaux
IOA Vice President

Wow! What a year we just completed! For the IOA, 2018 was huge. It was a year of challenge and a year of change, and one that has presented us with enormous opportunity. Colleagues across the IOA engaged in collaborative dialogues, reviewed and analyzed new opportunities, made important decisions, established structures and ultimately set up the IOA for a banner 2019!

Management Transition

In summer of 2018, the IOA Board initiated discussions to prepare a transition from Kellen to a new association management company (AMC) by the end of the year. As our AMC provides support to all of our day to day operations, making this change would be no small effort.


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IOA2019 Conference Registration Open!

IOA2019 Conference Registration Open!

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IOAConfEmail_Register NowWhite text on purple background – “Register now” – next to a line drawing of a figure in a circle.

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Registration is now open for the IOA 2019 Annual Conference in New Orleans! Visit the brand-new conference site to view a working agenda, check out the host hotel, and complete your registration today!

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New Digital Infrastructure Underway

New Digital Infrastructure Underway

By Mary Conger
IOA Communications Committee Chair

Change has been afoot for IOA on many levels since July. Board members, volunteers, and consultants alike have been working doggedly to chart a healthy course for our association as the transition to new management nears.

As updates from the Management Transition Task Force and others have chronicled, many decisions have been thoughtfully made and implemented in the past few months. The Board approved a new hybrid management model. An interim transition director joined our ranks. A new management partner was selected. A PR consultant was engaged. The beginnings of a search for IOA’s first CEO are underway.

All these efforts have been interrelated, of course, and their symphony is starting to crescendo. A subtle yet important theme coursing throughout has been the digital infrastructure assessment. Begun in June, this project was meant to evaluate whether IOA’s technological investments were well suited to the association’s goals and, if not, to point a way toward alignment.


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A Meatball by Any Other Name

A Meatball by Any Other Name

After considerable debate, the International Ombudsman Association (IOA) chose to use the word ‘ombudsman’ in its name when it was formed in 2005. This word has Old Norse origins and was used by King Charles XII when he formed the first Ombudsman office for his government in Sweden in 1713. King Charles’ model for the ombudsman office was inspired by the Mohtasib, a similar position that existed in the Ottoman Empire. The organizational ombudsman profession originated in the 1960’s in America, and even though this new role departed in several significant ways from King Charles’ vision, the title ‘ombudsman’ was still widely adopted by organizational ombuds offices. There have been concerns raised along the way that the ‘man’ suffix of the word is unnecessary and gendered. Recent cultural movements, such as #MeToo, have brought increased attention to issues related to gender inequity within our culture and institutions, and many offices and organizations have already elected to use alternative titles for their offices such as ‘ombuds’ or ‘ombudsperson’, to make the title gender neutral.

In “A Meatball by Any Other Name” author David Rasch suggests that now is a good time for the IOA to drop the ‘man’ and use a non-gendered term like ‘ombuds’ in our title that better suits our current moment in history.

Read this joint publication by the Journal of the International Ombudsman Association and Journal of the California Caucus of College and University Ombuds here now.

IOA Practice Report

IOA Practice Report

Has anyone ever asked you what an ombuds is? What an ombuds does? Of course! And, while we’re sure your answers are well founded, this might help! The IOA Research and Assessment Committee has recently published a Practice Report based on survey responses from IOA members who were practitioners for the full year of 2017.

The Practice Report provides general demographic information about the ombuds who participated in the study and information about the ways in which ombuds practice and function. The survey data, over time, will allow us to position ourselves as a profession as effectively as possible. The survey data also permit us to offer individual support to our members and those organizations interested in creating an ombudsman office.

In this report, you will see data that reflect the responses of participants in the order in which the items were presented on the survey. With respect to response rate and the reporting of data in this report, please note that to protect the anonymity of participants, most data are reported in the aggregate. We would advise the reader to interpret this survey report with appropriate care. If you have specific questions about data that seem to be omitted from this report, the survey team will do its best to clarify while being careful to protect individual participants and convey only that which can be appropriately generalized. Survey team members are:

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IOA Selects New Management Partner

IOA Has Chosen SBI as Our New Partner

By Roy Baroff & Lee Twyman
MTTF Co-Chairs, IOA Board Members 

SBI Association Management logo

A thorough search for IOA’s new management partner has successfully resulted in the engagement of SBI Association Management of Seattle, WA, USA. In this role, SBI will be responsible for managing IOA’s daily operations, as well as aiding in our transition to a hybrid management model.

SBI is dedicated to operational excellence and relationship building with a client portfolio of 25+ associations. They take pride in an innovative approach to association management and growth, utilizing a combination of smart technology solutions and strong interpersonal connections to ensure their clients’ short- and long-term health. Learn more about SBI’s philosophy, clients, and staff.

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For such a time as this…

By Elaine Shaw, Regional Ombudsman, CO-OP® , Pfizer Inc.
2018 IOA Board Member

It is a loud time in the world, and I am reminded of lines from a poem by Pablo Neruda, “Keeping Quiet.”

…If we were not so single-minded
About keeping our lives moving,
And for once could do nothing,
Perhaps a huge silence
Might interrupt this sadness
Of never understanding ourselves
And of threatening ourselves with death….

I recently returned from a trip to India, spreading the good news about our Ombuds Office with my wonderful colleague, Sophia Qiao. It was not a quiet trip. For those of you who have traveled or lived in India know, India can be a cacophony of traffic horns, streams of exotic language and lilting English. In the midst of this, there is the ubiquitous “namaste;” such a peaceful sound to my yogini ears. It was a full and wearying trip, but I was reminded how people everywhere respond to the peace and calm and safety we offer.Elaine Shaw and Sophia Qiao in India






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Mentors Matter

by Ronnie Thomson, Corporate Ombuds, Halliburton
IOA Board of Directors

What comes to mind when you think of a mentor? Perhaps someone who is your role model, teacher, and positive influencer for your continued growth and development. My guess is that you may count many mentors over your career or for some of us, our careers. So how do mentors matter? I propose mentors matter in the following important roles:

First, an effective mentor serves as a guide. Ideally, she has the experience in your profession and will help you navigate your way. What kinds of obstacles might you encounter? What remedies and resources exist when those obstacles appear? She’s been there and done that and can encourage you along your path.

Secondly, your mentor is a confidant — someone with whom you can admit what you do not know. He’s the person who will listen to your fears and encourage you when you admit your lack of confidence. He helps you be your true self and you show him what’s behind your facade. He may encourage you to admit when you are wrong, or have made a mistake, and helps you hold your ego together when it’s cracked. He may employ humor and lightheartedness as a reminder to not take yourself too seriously.


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The Research Agenda for the Organizational Ombuds Profession: A Living Document

Based on a directive from the IOA Board of Directors, the IOA Research Agenda Subcommittee, Shereen G. Bingham, Tyler S. Smith, Shannon L. Burton, and Danita Elkerson, have created a research agenda for the ombuds field.JIOA Article - Research Agenda

The agenda is intended to serve as a guide for future initiatives within the IOA related to research, outline the research priorities of the IOA for outside entities, and establish research as a fundamental value to the field of ombuds work.

This article published in the JIOA establishes the importance of the research agenda for the IOA, explains the methodology used to create it, explores areas of inquiry underpinning each of the eight research goals, and discusses implications for the advancement of research on organizational ombuds.

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My Diversity & Inclusion Journey

Diversity Inclusion Word CloudBy Sana Ansari Manjeshwar
IOA Board Member

On the impact of including D&I principles in my Ombuds practice…

Sana_Manjeshwar_8x10I identify myself as an Asian, British, American female, raised in Nigeria, England and India, living in Texas and practicing spirituality inclusive of all religions. I used to think that my background represented the image of diversity and inclusion. I was wrong.

Diversity and inclusion (D&I) is so much more than the representation of various genders and ethnicities. It means practicing a diverse and inclusive mindset where you are seeking different perspectives in the workplace and providing an environment where each person is valued for his/her/their distinctive skills, experiences, and viewpoints.


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Independence & the Two-Edged Sword

By Bruce MacAllister
IOA Board Member

As a part of my service on the IOA Board of Directors, I am co-chair for the Standards of Practice Task Force. Like all members of this task force, I appreciate that the Standards form the core basis for our practice and that there are deep implications to identifying any potential issues with them. Yet my time on this task force has led me to ponder each of the major elements of the Standards.

Through this process, I have compared my own experiences across a long and varied career with those of other colleagues in light of our standard of “Independence.” One common assertion has been that, to comply with the Standards, adequate independence required that ombuds refrain from participating in the social fabric of their workplace. So, activities like meeting a colleague for lunch were out of the question. I have discovered through my own experience as well as observing the practical experience of others, however, that the implications of independence and neutrality become more intricate when practiced in the context of real-life human dynamics.

The expectation that an ombuds is to be viewed as a trusted, competent, respected, and independent member of the risk management community becomes far more complex when evaluated in light of how trust and respect actually form. One might assume that it is imperative to maintain a healthy state of “remoteness” and distance from those with whom the ombuds may need to engage to avoid any perception of non-neutrality. However, when one factors into the equation the key elements necessary to foster trust, effective communication, and an appropriate degree of influence (not over the outcome, but relevant to the need for action) that remoteness can work at cross purposes to building trust and rapport.


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In Appreciation of My Networks

by Bryan Hanson, Ombudsperson, The Graduate School at Virginia Tech

Working as an ombudsman creates a sense of isolation at times, especially when you are a sole practitioner within an organization. This is a dynamic that became my reality when I took on the role of ombudsman for a university in a rural community. Throughout my career as a conflict engagement professional, I’ve relied on strong networks to help me through phases of my professional development. Fortunately, I’ve been located in communities that had many experienced professionals with whom I could engage and work on a regular basis. Now that I am in a rural community, I must rely on networks that I maintain from a distance.

As a newcomer to the ombudsman profession, I am finding that access to a strong network of support is critical as I navigate the situations I encounter on a daily basis. However, as I become more focused in my work as a conflict practitioner, I have realized that not only is my geographic location a challenge, the wider community of professionals sharing this role is much smaller. Fortunately, I am finding that my colleagues serving as ombudsmen in other institutions are very open to communication and engaging on a level that provides the needed support to ensure that I remain on the right path.

It is with great appreciation that I felt the need to acknowledge the level of support these networks provide and also to encourage others to foster the networks available to them. To do this I wanted to share my story of network development as an ombudsman in a rural community and hope that it inspires the sharing of other ombudsmen’s experiences with the networks that support them. By illustrating the many opportunities to get engaged with those that can be supportive of our success in our role, this interchange will hopefully benefit others new to the field and those who simply feel they could gain value by expanding their networks.

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