IOA Conference Highlights – Robin Hood and the Boss Whisperer


The International Ombudsman Association recently completed its annual conference with 400+ attendees (the largest conference to date) in downtown Richmond. There were many “highlights” to the conference and let me share a few.

One afternoon session led by Teresa Ralicki, CO-OP (ombuds at University of Colorado – Denver) and Adam Barak Kleinberger, CO-OP  (ombuds at Boston University) found us in Sherwood Forest where Robin, the Sheriff of Nottingham, and King Richard found themselves in need of ombuds services. It seemed they were’t getting along and needed a confidential, informal, independent, and impartial resource to help sort things out. Enter the ombuds! The session was done in “fishbowl” style with “actors” playing the roles while attendees jumped into the scene as ombuds. Teresa and Adam facilitated the start/stop action and It was both hilarious and serious work to help this band of merry folks. There was some excellent demonstration and discussion around ombuds strategy and tactics.

Another outstanding session was a plenary talk by Dr. Laura Crawshaw who founded and leads The Boss Whispering Institute that focuses on research, training, and coaching of the abrasive leader.  Dr. Crawshaw first defined what she means by an abrasive leader as “any individual charged with managerial authority whose interpersonal behavior causes emotional distress in coworkers sufficient to disrupt organizational functioning.” And, then she proceeded to explain why folks act in this manner, how they often don’t know they are perceived as abrasive, and how they can be coached and change to become better leaders and workers. I think King Richard, Robin, and the Sheriff could have used her help!!!

Finally, a highlight for me both professionally and personally was that I joined the IOA Board of Directors after being elected earlier in the spring. The IOA Board includes members from across the US and the world and we got right to work with a Board development meeting and interactions with members throughout the conference.

While there are even more highlights, I’ll save them for a later post. In the meantime, as two ombuds from a federal agency that will go unnamed explained – When you are not sure where to go, Go ombuds!

IOA Board of Directors Election Results


The International Ombudsman Association (IOA) recently provided Board of Director election results. There were 6 seats open with a slate of 9 candidates. The candidates elected will step onto the Board at the IOA Annual Conference in late April. The newly elected Board members include Roy Baroff, NC State Faculty & Staff Ombuds.

The full list, plus one other candidate who was appointed to fill a recently vacated seat, includes three academic, three corporate, and one government ombuds:

Roy Baroff CO-OP                            North Carolina State University
Ruthy Kohorn Rosenberg               Brown University
Jessica Kuchta-Miller CO-OP         Washington University in St. Louis
Sana Manjeshwar CO-OP              Chevron
Reese Ramos CO-OP                      Sandia National Laboratories
Elaine Shaw                                    Pfizer
Ronnie Thomson                            Halliburton

Congrats to all!

NC State Faculty & Staff Ombuds Obtains Certification – Certified Organizational Ombudsman Practitioner – CO-OP® 


The International Ombudsman Association (IOA – uses the Swedish term “ombudsman” that includes all genders) supports the certification of organizational ombuds through its division – The Board of Certification for Certified Organizational Ombudsman Practitioners – CO-OP®. The requirements for certification include completion of a written exam that tests knowledge of conflict management and effective communication skills along with IOA Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice among other topics. There is also an education requirement and work experience including office practices that follow IOA Ethics and Standards.

With this background, we are pleased to announce that Roy Baroff, the NC State Faculty & Staff Ombuds obtained Certification on June 8, 2017. Roy is now a Certified Organizational Ombudsman Practitioner – CO-OP®. Roy scored a 499/500 on the exam (pretty good result!), met the educational and work experience requirements, participated in a one-on-one interview with a member of the Board of Certification to discuss ombuds practices, and was then approved by the full Board of Certification.

To maintain the CO-OP® certification, Roy must complete 60 hours of continuing education credits over the next four years. Obtaining certification now and with these future recertification requirements, Roy demonstrates his commitment to the field and best practices in his service as the NC State Faculty & Staff Ombuds.

Do you have an issue, concern, or conflict on your mind and you’re not sure where to turn?  The NC State Faculty & Staff Ombuds is confidential, independent, informal and impartial. Get a head start this summer on resolving your situation – don’t wait!  For all NC State Faculty and Staff, find out what Roy can do for you – call 919-935-0922.

International Ombudsman Association Annual Conference 2016

I attended and presented at the IOA 2016 conference a couple of weeks ago in Seattle with over 400 attendees. There were several excellent keynote speeches including one by noted conflict resolution field author Bernie Mayer.

Mayer explained that dealing with conflict is all about dealing with paradox. His recent book – The Conflict Paradox – posits that our notions of separating concepts like Cooperation from Competition or Emotion from Logic may not be the most production approach. Instead, we should ask those in conflict to think and explore cooperation and competition or emotions and logic together in order to find common ground toward resolution. Mayer was an excellent speaker and I hope to incorporate some of his ideas into the NC State Faculty Ombuds Office.

Additionally, my session on “Opening an Ombuds Office – the NC State Faculty Ombuds Office” came as one of the opening concurrent sessions and was well attended with about 30 in number. Most had just finished three days of the IOA Foundations course and had many nuts-and-bolts questions about the workings of an ombuds office. My goal was to share the NC State Faculty Ombuds Office from start to its current status so that participants could take home ideas for their own offices.  Judging by the session questions and comments, I’ll deem the program a success!

See you next year at the IOA in Minneapolis!