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June 2021 Title IX Updates

IOA Submits Comment to the U.S. Department of Education

In March 2021, President Biden issued an executive order directing the U.S. Secretary of Education, Miquel Cardona, to review the changes made to Title IX under the Trump administration.

For multiple days during the week of 7 June, the U.S. Department of Education held a virtual Title IX Public Hearing to gather information from survivors, students, parents, faculty, school staff, administrators, and other community members about the steps the Department can take to ensure that schools are providing students with safe learning environments free from discrimination and sexual harassment while implementing fair processes. The public comments will inform the Department’s review of its regulations, guidance, and other agency actions under Title IX. In addition to oral statements at the public hearing, the Department welcomed the submission of written comments.

IOA's Government & Policy Committee  with the support of IOA leadership submitted a written comment highlighting the important and unique role organizational ombuds play on many campuses by providing confidential, informal, impartial, and independent assistance to all college and university community members including complainants, respondents, and the administration, writing:

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International COVID Message

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

In North America, where vaccinations continue and an end to the pandemic appears to be in sight, many of us are beginning to feel a sense of relief as we perceive that the worst may be behind us.

However, as an international organization, IOA is well aware that our colleagues around the world are experiencing grave difficulties and have families, coworkers, organizations, and communities that continue to struggle with COVID-19.

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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 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 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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IOA Ombuds Office Effectiveness Project

By Hector Escalante, Ed.D, MFA
Ombudsperson - Pacific University

What are the top suggestions ombuds can use to show value to leadership? What tools can they use to make a case that their office deserves to exist? Recently, Chuck Howard, IOA’s Executive Director formed a team led by Randy Williams and Ronnie Thompson 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”.

In today’s uncertain and unstable environment, this mission is critically important for ombuds offices. Many ombuds offices may be at risk for closure. I recently experienced the possibility of my office being closed because of new leadership and extreme budget cuts. Fortunately, with the help of IOA, close ombuds colleagues and my university stakeholders, I was strategically able to convince our new leader that the ombuds role brings tremendous value to him as a leader and to the greater university community.

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Updates from the 2020 Practice and Compensation Survey

By Mary Rowe,

The survey team has been preparing many reports from the 2020 Practice and Compensation survey report. Here are the first two reports. Information is coming next about compensation. And more is coming about OO Practice in addition to the attached articles. Hi Colleagues, we enormously appreciate all who participated in the IOA survey by sharing your insights and information. Through your contributions, the world - and we - are able to understand the functions, boundaries, and impact of organizational ombuds (OO) with greater clarity. Thank you, thank you!

The first report helps provide information to a confused world about what OOs actually do and do not do - and how we fit into the whole world of all ombudspeople.

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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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Ombuds Self-care: COVID and Beyond

By Dave Carver, PhD
IOA Board of Directors

As the COVID-19 crisis continues with no end in sight, organizational ombuds are confronted with unprecedented challenges that could lead to new opportunities for expanding our unique independent, impartial, informal, confidential role. But first we need to find ways to take care of ourselves as we look forward to a post-COVID “new normal.” Self-care can be difficult when we are isolated and spending many hours each day staring at our computer screens. Even in pre-pandemic times the ombuds role is often a lonely one, with many of us working in solo practices or communicating virtually with distant visitors. So, here are some basic tips for ombuds staying healthy in both mind and body.

  • Practice a "quiet time" stress management method of your choice for at least 20 minutes daily. Some examples of quiet time practices include deep breathing, mindfulness meditation, prayer, or positive affirmations.
  • Daily physical activity can help to ease stress and brighten your mood. Weather permitting, some direct sunlight and fresh air will provide a refreshing break from long periods of online interaction.
  • Spend a few minutes each day reviewing your strengths and accomplishments, including your goals and values. Avoid perfectionistic self-criticism and comparing yourself to others negatively.
  • Make a commitment to get 7-8 hours of high quality sleep whenever possible. Make sure your sleeping room is dark, not too hot or cold, and free from unnecessary electronic distractions. Don’t sleep with your smartphone! Avoid excessive caffeine or alcohol consumption and stop working at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
  • Stay in touch with supportive friends and family, while avoiding large crowds and shared public spaces as much as possible. Look for sources of humor in your daily life. Remember the old saying, laughter is the best medicine!
  • Spend a few minutes daily reviewing the things you have to be grateful for in your life.
  • Maintain regular contact with your ombuddies, ombuds allies, and other trusted colleagues. We need to maintain meaningful human contact, even when regular in-person meetings are not possible. And make it a point to reach out to others who appear to be struggling. We are all in this together!

In these times where stress may be high, what are some additional self-care strategies that help you cope? Please feel free to share in the comment section below.


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Surviving and Thriving

By Prof. Mary Rowe, MIT

Covid-19, Black Lives Matter and #MeToo are illuminating our world like a lightning storm. These recent events inspire renewed commitment to understanding how organizational ombuds (OOs) can survive and thrive - for our organizations, for all our constituents and for ourselves. The humble questions below evolved to contribute to a recent sector meeting. Subsequent conversations highlighted the importance of these questions for all ombuds, and also the importance of our sharing the wisdom of each of us. If any of this is useful would you consider contributing ideas? (See the last paragraph.)  

SurvivingWhat IS surviving? 

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IOA Guidance Concerning COVID-19 and Contact Tracing

By Chuck Howard

Executive Director of IOA

Should an ombuds consider breaking confidence if the ombuds learns that someone has been diagnosed as positive for COVID-19 or been exposed to COVID-19 yet refuses to take action to protect others from further infection?

How might contact tracing affect ombuds’ confidentiality obligations and operational practices if either the ombuds or a visitor develops COVID-19?

These and similar questions have been raised with a request that IOA provide some guidance to IOA members on the implications of COVID-19 and contact tracing on their practices. As restrictions are being lifted and ombuds face the possibility of returning to their workplace offices and meeting with visitors in person, these questions take on added urgency and importance. In an effort to provide guidance to assist IOA members, IOA’s Executive Director prepared a memorandum with important information and recommendations on how ombuds might analyze these issues. You may access this important resource via this link:

COVID-19 IOA Memorandum

The Magic of Independence

By Elaine Shaw
IOA Ombuds

When my husband traveled with me to Seattle for the IOA Conference a few years ago, I made him come to the Pecha Kucha event. “Pecha-what?” he asked without much interest. For those of you who don’t know, Pecha Kucha is one of the defining institutions of the IOA annual meeting. It is a time when a few brave souls weave their work, their life, their essence into a creative expression in brief 20 slide/20 seconds per slide presentation with a spoken (or sung!) narrative. My husband was reluctant, but agreed to sit through just one. After 6 or 7 speakers, each more creative, intense or emotional than the last, he was delighted. “You work with an amazing group of people.” (Interested in the 2020 online Pecha Kucha gatherings? Learn more.)

Indeed. I do. You are an amazing group of people. That’s why it’s daunting to imagine being Ombuds for Ombuds! As the first IOA Ombuds, I take this responsibility very seriously and I hope I measure up to your expectations. I have been reflecting on why some of you may choose to be in touch.

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Get Involved in IOA through Volunteering!

Hello, IOA -- from your Volunteer Coordination Committee (VCC)!

As a volunteer-driven organization, there are so many great individuals already contributing their time, skills, and energy to advance work within IOA, but there are still phenomenal volunteer opportunities that await eager individuals!

The VCC is excited to share the following open IOA volunteer opportunities. We encourage you to review the below opportunities and get involved with IOA!

Journal of the International Ombudsman Association (JIOA) Associate Editor:

The Associate Editors shall assist the Editor edit and publish the Journal. The Editor may appoint two to four Associate Editors for renewable, three-year terms, subject to approval by the Board of Directors.



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Interview with Amanda Dean

by Roy Baroff, COOP®, Faculty and Staff Ombuds, NC State University

This is part of an ongoing series of conversations between an IOA Board Director and an IOA member.  In mid-August I, Roy Baroff (RB), spoke with Amanda Dean (AD), asking about her journey into ombuds practice, how IOA helped along the way, and what else IOA could or should be doing. We had a pretty far-ranging conversation; here’s a summary, and I hope you enjoy it! I really appreciate Amanda for sharing her time and her journey with us!

 RB: Could you start by sharing how you got into ombuds work?

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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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New Book Club for Ombuds

Coordinated by Lisa Neale and Hector Escalante, in conjunction with Cal Caucus, this book club exists to connect the ombuds community to talk about privilege, inclusion, and justice. All are welcome to participate.

The group’s first meeting will be held via Zoom for one hour on Friday, 08 March at 2PM Eastern. The book to be discussed is White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism by Dr. Robin DiAngelo, a New York Times Bestseller. (Dr. DiAngelo is scheduled to be a keynote speaker at #IOA2019 in New Orleans in April.)

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Transfer of Membership Guidelines

The IOA Board recently approved a process for transferring memberships that will be administered by IOA staff effective January 2019. The Transfer of Membership Guidelines emphasize that IOA membership is held by each individual; therefore, an individual can initiate a transfer of membership. Transfers are limited to an individual transferring to an associate within the same organization.

Guidelines for transferring a membership include:

  • An email from an existing individual member requesting to have their membership inactivated along with the name of a person within the same organization who will receive the membership
  • The creation of a new IOA member record. (The old record will also be maintained.)
  • The assessment of a membership transfer fee ($25) for staff time to update the membership record
If you have any questions about this process, please contact [email protected].

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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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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