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The Visitor

By Ruthy Kohorn Rosenberg, University Ombudsperson, Brown University
IOA Board Member

I hear your footsteps slowing on the stairs.Hesitating at the top, You leave the carpet for the wood
Noticing the last direction, directions followed like bread crumbs
In this maze of a building.
And you
Hover just outside my door.

What will you carry through that door?
I will welcome whatever you bring.

I pause and breathe,
Gathering.
I still the aviary in my mind; fluttering, hopping, swooping.
Emails not returned, conversations just ended,
Emotions swirling from moments ago, not yet dealt with.
They finally take their places on the roost, and quiet.
My body poised













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Professional Development and the Revitalization of a Regional Ombuds Group in the SE US

By Tim Hedeen, Professor of Conflict Management and University Ombuds, Kennesaw State University
and Jennifer Schneider, Student Ombuds, University of South Florida

 Do you like sunshine, history, and architecture?
 Do you enjoy meeting with other bright, like-minded people?
 Are you an ombuds in the southeastern region of the US?

If you answered affirmatively to any of the above statements, then join us in Savannah, GA this summer!


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A Storm of Protest Is Coming to US Workplaces

By Mauricio (Reese) Ramos

The traditional U.S. workplace has changed. Decades back, if an employee disagreed with an organization's policy, the employer would point to the door and remind the worker that if they didn’t like it, they could work someplace else. If an employee wished there was a telecommuting option, or that a designated lactation space was available, or medical benefits for same-sex partners were offered, the response tended to unequivocally be, “You don’t like it here? There’s the door.”

Nowadays, when an employer disregards employee concerns, employees voice their dissension. If you’re an employer, and are seeing the signs but disregarding the message, you better start listening because there’s a storm brewing.  And this time, employees are demanding to be heard. If you fail to listen and change, you will lose high-performing employees, damage the reputation of your brand or organization, and ultimately risk compromising your organization’s mission due to the disruption caused by disgruntled employees.

Sometime in this new century something shifted in the relationship between employers and employees. I noticed it when I was with a certain organization. When I first joined, when the new hires had a specific concern, their concern was typically dismissed.  Management’s message was, in short, that new hires should learn the system and adapt to it.    

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Ombuds as Agents of Systemic Change

By Camilo Azcarate, Ombuds for the European Southern Observatory

Ombuds are expected to act as agents of positive change for organizations. This is arguably one of the most important long-term contributions of the role. SoP 4.6 states that “The Ombudsman identifies trends and concerns about policies and procedures, including future issues and concerns… and provides recommendations for responsibly addressing them.”

However, this part of the role has not been, in my view, carefully explored. I am not aware of specific guidelines to help us identify what type of trends should concern us, and which recommendations may be most useful to address them. We may greatly benefit from more guidance on this part of our practice.

I believe it is useful to have a fixed point, a north star, to help us navigate the often treacherous waters of organizational life. This is particularly important if we are expected to serve as agents of change. For me, this star is human dignity.

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An Ombuds Is like a Band-Aid...

By Hans Kohler, Conflict Resolution Specialist and Ombuds

I was recently talking with one of the owners of a company that I have been contracted to work with, and he was asking me about the benefits of hiring an ombuds. Besides all of the regular and most common questions, he unexpectedly asked, “If you would have to make an analogy about being an ombuds, what would that be?”  

My answer was quite simple: an ombuds is like a Band-Aid.

I imagine that many of my ombuds colleagues are frowning...screaming...yelling "Say what?”… and so on. I still stand by my analogy -- being an ombuds is like being a Band-Aid. If this analogy makes you think of a Band-Aid as a treatment for symptoms instead of causes, take a step back and see the multiple utilities of it. I hope to show you how this Band-Aid analogy in a way that is creative and unconventional.

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New at IOA in New Orleans: The Swag Showcase

Swag noun \ ˈswag \ 
Free items given away to promote a resource, event, or product

Marketing an ombuds office isn’t always easy. Eye-catching promotional items really help spread the word and create excitement about what ombuds have to offer. However, limited time (and budgets!) can make it tough to come up with clever slogans and nifty designs.

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No New Year's Resolution - I'm Going to the Conference Instead!

By Roy Baroff, CO-OP®
Faculty & Staff Ombuds, NC State
Member, IOA Board of Directors

I know, we are now in February!  How can one still be thinking of New Year’s Resolutions? I was worried about this too until I recently heard someone say “Happy New Year” and it was January 31st! And, when asked, the person indicated they wished people Happy New Year until around November. I’m not going that far, as February works for me. So, here goes:

 No New Year’s Resolutions – I’m going to the Conference instead !

With each new year (or New Year), we routinely face the challenge to change our lives!!!  We are inundated by the idea that this time, this turn of the calendar, will be a catalyst for our next best self. I know this to be true as I saw it on Facebook, Instagram and even Linkedin!!  And, that’s what I was thinking when tasked with drafting a blog post for IOA as one of its Board of Directors.



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Exciting News from the CO-OP® Board!

Dear IOA Members,

The CO-OP® Board is very pleased to announce broader and more accessible credentialing! The Certification Board and Committees have made changes based on IOA member input.  We have decided to implement a leveling approach to certification. The CO-OP Board feels leveling is an important way to maintain the rigor of certification, while expanding access to credentialing. We recognize that ombuds practice in a variety of settings, and have worked hard to achieve and maintain a professional level of knowledge and experience. We feel that recognizing this with our new credentialing levels will aid in the continued professionalization of our field.

What does this mean? This means that there will be more than one level for credentialing. Some people in our profession who are knowledgeable and experienced ombuds are unable to obtain certification because their organization has requirements that compromise their ability to practice to standards and obtain full certification. One example of this is in the academic sector where some institutions have interpreted reporting requirements related to Title IX or Cleary Act, which technically conflict with the standards of practice for our profession. We want to recognize these ombuds.

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A Call for Your Experience

By Teresa Ralicki, Ombuds, University of Colorado Denver

Seeing shredded confidential material from another ombuds office, right in my face, as if to taunt me. Hearing about what it means for a colleague to sketch portraits. Feeling the impact of helping visitor after visitor through a photograph. These were profound experiences for me as I walked around the pop-up art gallery, Experience: On Display, at the IOA conference last year.

Let me backup a bit and share the story of this session’s inception. My first IOA conference was in 2012. I had been an ombuds for almost a year at that point. I was eager to be involved and to become part of the IOA fabric. It felt so good to be a part of this profession after years of struggling to find my way in the conflict resolution job world. Not only had I found a job that I loved, I was brought into the IOA community -- one that shared ideas, offered opportunities for growth and mentorship and, as I quickly came to observe, harbored a boatload of creative talent.

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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 Conference Schedule Posted

IOA has published the schedule for its Annual Conference being held April 1st-3rd, 2019 in New Orleans. Pre-conference events begin on March 29th. While some details are yet to be determined, you'll find a variety of session topics and keynote addresses by Jon Lee, Dr. Robin DiAngelo, and Andy Fass. Take a look!  And, if you haven't already done so, register now. See you in NOLA!

View the 2019 Schedule
Register Now

 

Training Conflict Management in the Midst of a Conflict Storm

by Mark Patterson, University Ombuds, William & Mary

"Like putting a band-aid on a wound that needs a tourniquet,” the anonymous feedback read.

Ouch.

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Publish in the Journal of the IOA!

by Shannon Lynn Burton, Ph.D.
University Ombudsperson, Michigan State University
Editor, Journal of the IOA

As ombuds, we all practice some level of reflection in our work, and as humans, we naturally seek to share our experiences with others. Why not join your colleagues in an exploration of ideas, practices and new theories by publishing in the Journal of the IOA? Writing about your experiences can be a way to examine your practice, deepen your philosophies, and reflect on the impact of your work on your organization - and your publication can help enhance both your own individual professional standing while it legitimizes the field as a whole. Writing is also a way to process particularly big or challenging emotions, so writing about that difficult case can also be a way for you to figure out how to move forward. The JIOA is soliciting all articles - academic as well as practiced or application oriented - and members of our Editorial Board are happy to discuss your ideas and help you along the road to publication. If you've recently given a presentation or training, you may also want to consider developing that work into an article so it can benefit not just your immediate audience, but a larger audience as well. We hope that you will consider writing an article for submission and encourage you to reach out if you are interested. You can email the Editorial Board at: [email protected].

 

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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