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Holding Space for Ombuds

By Alicia Booker, PhD, IOA President & Ellen Miller, IOA Executive Director

A Special Message to IOA Members

In the spirit of believing we are one humankind, and one global community, we must take time to pause and acknowledge the extreme devastation, pain, suffering, and grief that so many are experiencing in our community, our organizations, and in our world. As we move into the season of holidays and family celebrations, our hearts, and thoughts go to all who are suffering.    

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Ombuds Day 2023

By Belinda M. Robinson, PhD
Associate Organizational Ombudsman - Federal Bureau of Investigation

For nearly six years, in conjunction with the American Bar Association’s Ombuds Day Committee, the Ombuds community is celebrated, recognized, and congratulated on the second Thursday of October, also known as Ombuds Day. This year, Ombuds Day is celebrated on Thursday, October 12. The theme for 2023 is Ombuds: Diverse in Role. United in Service.

Prior years’ themes have paid homage to the professionals who lead conflict resolution efforts and mediation services for organizations, large and small, and regardless of their internally or externally facing ombuds roles:

  •  2022Ombuds: Resilience, Respect, Resolve
  •  2021Ombuds: Exploring Options to Resolve Conflict Together
  •  2020 and 2019Ombuds: Unusual Name. Important Service

Ombuds practitioners are often described as navigators who provide a beacon of light; giving employees, and often the public, hope that their problems can be resolved fairly and equitably.

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ABA Dispute Resolution Section - Call for Proposals

The ABA Dispute Resolution Section is now accepting program proposals for our 2024 Spring Conference that will be held April 10–13, 2024, in San Diego, CA. This year’s conference theme is Mastering the Future: Revolutionizing Dispute Resolution in a Dynamic World.

We welcome program proposals from anyone who can enlighten and connect with our anticipated attendees, who include dispute resolution leaders, mediators, arbitrators, ombuds, judges, attorney advocates, court administrators, neutral providers, ADR consumers, and legal educators. The proposal deadline is September 13 at 5 p.m. ET, so now is your chance to bring your program idea to life!

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The I in IOA

IOA is an international association dedicated to advancing the profession of organizational ombuds. Our mission is our guidepost, yet as a small volunteer-driven association, we recognize that our size, structure, and limited staff have all impacted our ability to advance the organizational ombuds profession globally. 

Our International Outreach Committee (IOC) has done a wonderful job identifying needs of the international community and has made a series of recommendations to the IOA Board of Directors. In response, the Board has established a special Task Force to develop a plan to implement the IOC recommendations and strategic priorities. The Internationalization Task Force will also consider the resources required to support your work and assess the value of creating a pilot regional project that would create a model for growing the profession. 

This special Task Force will begin its work in August and report back to the Board in the first quarter of 2024. We are grateful that this effort will be co-chaired by Immediate Past President Ronnie Thomson at Sandia National Laboratories and Sam Zhou at MARS. If you are an IOA member practicing outside the U.S. or have experience working to expand awareness about organizational ombuds in the international space and would like to join this group, please reach out to Ellen Miller at [email protected].   

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The New IOA Concern and Complaint Policy

By IOA

We are pleased to roll out the final process piece of our culture work: the new IOA Concern and Complaint Policy and Procedures which were approved by the IOA Board of Directors at their July meeting. Both the policy and procedures will be piloted for the next 18 months so we may benefit from both utilization and experience.   

Concern and Complaint Policy and Procedures

This has been a long journey. First, we realized we couldn’t consider conduct before we articulated the culture we wanted to create. We also realized we needed to articulate that how we treat each other matters. Perhaps obvious especially to ombuds, but critical to ensuring we are all operating with the same frame. After focus group discussions with members in 2022, it was clear we needed to start with organizational values (based on the values detailed in our Code of Ethics for practice) and community norms. After gaining community input, we rolled out new Values and Norms that guide all our interactions. 

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Ombuds Day 2023 Proclamations – Call for Volunteers

Our 6th annual recognition of Ombuds Day is coming up on Thursday, October 12, 2023 and the planning committee is seeking proclamations from all 50 states and Washington DC, and obtained over 30! View the list of the proclamations.

To support this work, “Ombuds Day 2023 Proclamation Request-a-thon” is scheduled for August 7-11, 2023. Volunteering for this effort is a great way to create awareness and improve understanding of the ombuds profession. It’s also a great way to meet and connect with other ombuds across the nation. If you’re interested and short on time, you can skip to the bold text below.

Process-wise, some ombuds requested proclamations from their local states, but most of the proclamations were requested by a team of volunteers. The Ombuds Day Subcommittee prepared templates that could be used for requesting proclamations across the nation, as well as instructions for how to request proclamations. To further simplify the process, the Subcommittee held request-a-thons, or scheduled dates and times for volunteers to work together by completing and submitting proclamation requests during video conferences. It worked well last year, so we’re bringing it back this August!

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A Message from IOA: 2024 & 2025 Conference

A Message from IOA

As a profession committed to fairness, we appreciate hearing from members about holding annual conferences in Indianapolis for IOA2024 and Miami for IOA2025. And as an international organization, IOA is always trying to balance a variety of potentially competing needs that our members may not be aware of. We hope it is helpful to share some information that impacted IOA’s decisions to contract with hotels in Indianapolis and Miami to host our conference as well as information about hotel contracting generally:  

  • IOA's conference location is determined by a number of factors including what cities are willing to bid on our conference and if we have been to that region in the last five years.  

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Advocacy Committee Update

Advocacy Committee Update:  

Our Advocacy Committee is hard at work preparing resources members can use across sectors to help advocate for ombuds offices in their organizations. These include:  

1) An IOA Organizational Engagement “Triage” Template

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New IOA Resource for General Counsel and Program Designers

By Ellen Miller, IOA Executive Director 

IOA has developed a new resource to assist program designers to better understand the US case law, statutory, and other established guidance relating to ombuds confidentiality. The primer also explains why a properly structured office is an essential component to creating an implied contract between ombuds and visitors to further support the voluntary nature of the work.   

This resource meets a recurring need expressed by both ombuds and those who are developing programs and can also be tailored for other regions outside of the US. This resource will be shared at a session IOA has planned for the National Association of College of University Attorneys (NACUA)'s annual meeting later this month titled Embracing Conflict: Ombuds as Strategic Allies for Campus Counsel

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International Ombuds Association’s first book, The Organizational Ombuds: Foundations, Fundamentals & Its Future: Ombuds effectiveness

Deanna Yuille Bandford and Bina Patel, seek participants for a project that explores Ombuds effectiveness at both the individual and programmatic level. Their research will be incorporated into a chapter for the International Ombuds Association’s first book, The Organizational Ombuds: Foundations, Fundamentals & Its Future.   

Participants are invited to share their personal perspectives via an anonymous survey or one-on-one interviews. 

Patel and Banford say that Ombuds are free to forward the survey link to their colleagues as this will greatly help to collect contextual data. Additionally, if participants are willing to share their story of how they entered and approach the profession, they can email the researchers: [email protected] or [email protected]

IOA DEIB: Creating an Inclusive Environment

For the last several years, IOA has intentionally worked to address Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) issues in our association, not only in terms of race, ethnicity, gender identity or sexual orientation, but also accessibility, inclusion of our international colleagues, and creating space for those new to the field. We are far from finished, and certainly have work to do, but we also know that meaningful change takes time and we are committed to making change.  

The need to redirect our attention was heightened after the 2019 Annual Conference in New Orleans. Some of you may have participated in the discussion following Robin DiAngleo’s keynote on White Fragility or attended the “UnDebate” plenary about civility within the ombuds community, and if so, you may have seen our IOA community struggling. While the goal was to host a provocative speaker that we knew would be challenging, the discussion felt unsafe for many. Others felt that it shed important light on some of the DEIB challenges at IOA for BIPOC, individuals who identify other than male, and younger professionals.

We wanted to reflect on this journey, and share with our members our efforts to date: 

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Connecting with your fellow K-12 Ombuds

The K-12 Ombuds field continues to steadily grow. Connecting with other K-12 Ombuds is an invaluable way to grow as a practitioner. If you are a practicing K-12 Ombuds and would like to connect, we have you covered.

First, the IOA Online CommUnity platform provides everyone with the ability to engage with, learn from, and share resources with other Ombuds. Once in the platform, under Groups, select "Groups by IOA Sectors" and then select the "Academic: Primary & Secondary Education K/12" group. As a group, we also meet monthly via Zoom and would love to have you join us.

To learn more about the group, please contact Monique Bookstein.

IOA Online CommUnity

Survey Responses Requested: Building Relationships and Engaging across Organizations

Dear Ombuds Colleagues!

As many of you know, the International Ombuds Association (IOA) is publishing its first ombuds handbook The Organizational Ombuds: Foundations, Fundamentals, and its Future. Donna Buehler and Liz Hill are co-authoring a chapter discussing how organizational ombuds build relationships and engage with entities across organizations while maintaining their independence and impartiality. 

To accomplish this, Donna and Liz kindly request that you share your experience and complete their survey by Friday, May 12, 2023, at 12:00 a.m. 

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JIOA: Essays in Honor of Dr. Mary Rowe

 

The Journal of the International Ombuds Association

Special Issue Announcement 

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Contribute to Research on Ombuds Origins

Deanna Yuille Bandford and Bina Patel, seek participants for a project that explores Ombuds effectiveness at both the individual and programmatic level. Their research will be incorporated into a chapter for the International Ombuds Association’s first book, The Organizational Ombuds: Foundations, Fundamentals & Its Future

Participants are invited to share their personal perspectives via a survey or one-on-one interviews. The anonymous Ombuds Origins survey is here: 

https://qfreeaccountssjc1.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8hJ12M5XGmKEmxg.

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ABA Section of Dispute Resolution's 25th Annual Spring Conference

Don't miss out on this year's ABA Section of Dispute Resolution's 25th Annual Spring Conference on May 10–13, 2023, at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada. We are excited to bring ADR professionals together again in Las Vegas after three years of virtual conferences! As the world’s largest ADR conference, it provides attendees a chance to network with others in the field, attend quality educational programming to advance their careers, and have fun with peers at social events. Join us in celebrating this year’s ADR awardees and be inspired by the keynote speakers. Whether you are new to the field or have been practicing for decades, the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution Spring Conference has something for you!

IOA Announces 2023 President Award Recipients

The International Ombuds Association (“IOA”) is proud to announce the recipients of the 2023 President’s Award.  

The President’s Award recognizes distinguished individuals for their commitment to serving the ombuds field and/or the International Ombuds Association. All award recipients were recognized at the IOA's Annual Conference 3-5 April in Seattle, Washington. 

The 2023 award recipients are:

Camilo Azcarate, JD, LLM, Ombuds, European Southern Observatory 
Roy Baroff, CO-OP®, JD, Ombuds, MWI & The McCammon Group
Mollie Berg, CO-OP®, NGA Ombudsman, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
Shannon Lynn Burton, PhDUniversity Ombudsperson, Michigan State University 
Jai Calloway, JD, MDR, Director, Ombuds Office, Harris Health System 
Susan CasinoSenior Ombuds Officer Consultant, United Nations World Food Programme 
Lynne Chaillat, Firm Ombuds, McKinsey & Company Inc. France 
Mary Bliss Conger, EdD, Consultant
Dolores Gomez-Moran, CO-OP®, MA, Senior Ombuds Officer and Mediator, United Nations World Food Programme
Brett Harris, JD, University Ombudsperson, University of Oregon Ombuds Program 
Timothy Hedeen, PhD, Kennesaw State University  
Melanie Jagneaux, CO-OP®, JD, MBA, Executive Director, Ombuds Office, Baylor College of Medicine 
Jessica Kuchta-Miller, JD, MA, University Ombuds, Duke University 
Donna Louden, Director, Ombuds Office, National Renewable Energy Laboratory 
Bruce MacAllister, JD, Ombudsman, International Foundation for Online Responsibility 
Sana Manjeshwar, CO-OP®, JD, SPHR, Global Principal Ombuds Manager, Chevron Corporation
David Miller, PhD, Ombudsman Supervisor, Decanter Bay 
Jennifer Smith Schneider, CO-OP®, PhD, Student Ombuds, University of South Florida 
Fred Wright, MS, MSW, Workplace Conciliator, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Victoria State Government 
 
“It is an honor to recognize these talented colleagues who have demonstrated excellence in advancing both the field and awareness about the role of organizational ombuds” said Ronnie Thomson, IOA President 2022-2023.   





















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New Organizational Values/Community Norms to Launch March 22 and Member Feedback Needed on Proposed Concern and Complaint Policy and Procedures

After extensive input from IOA members and other participants, we are pleased to announce the pilot of IOA’s new Organizational Values and Community Norms that will go into effect 22 March 2023. We also invite member input on a proposed IOA Concern and Complaint Policy and Concern and Complaint Procedures.   

Good Day IOA

 

Organizational Values and Community Norms

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2023 Board Elections Results are In

We are proud to announce the results of the 2023 Board of Directors election. These newly elected directors will take office at the Annual Meeting on 11 April 2023. The new Board will convene shortly thereafter to elect new officers.

Thank you to those members who participated in this year's election. IOA is grateful to all of the candidates who ran in this year's election for their interest in board service, as well as the Nominating Committee for dedicating their time and attention to the nomination and election process.


 

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Dancing to the Edge of Neutrality: Identity Survey

Katie Manderson, Jennifer Mahony and Linda Brothers will be presenting the session, Dancing to the Edge of Neutrality, at the 2023 IOA Annual Conference in Seattle on 3-5 April 2023. 

We do so much as ombuds to help our organizations and visitors when their identity feels questioned or threatened, leading to conflict. However, what happens when our identity is questioned or threatened?  We want to get some information from you, our colleagues in IOA, about times when your identity has impacted your work. We are using a very broad definition of identity, looking beyond protected group categories. This is an informal survey, so please be as frank as you are comfortable.

This is the link to the survey

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