April 06, 2010

New York Co-Op Market Adopts Ombuds Program for Customers

GreenStar Cooperative Market, a consumer-owned, democratically-run cooperative corporation in Ithaca, NY, has created an Ombuds program. According to GreenStar's blog, the new program will facilitate the communication of questions, concerns, problems or complaints from members and nonmembers.

Deborah ("D") Scott and Evelyn ("Evie") Weinstein were selected to jointly fill the position. Both women have experience volunteering for the Suicide Prevention and Crisis Service in Ithaca. Weinstein is a social worker and Scott is currently completing her graduate degree in social work at Binghamton University. They anticipate following IOA standards and looking to the Ombuds programs at Ithaca College and Cornell University for guidance. (Greenstar Co-op Blog.)


  1. But, but, but...Ithaca and Cornell don't have IOA-compliant offices.

  2. "IOA-compliant" is an interesting term.
    IOA offers a set of guidelines - The COE and SOPs.
    People voluntarily commit to support these in their practice, or not.
    There is, to the best of my knowledge, neither an enforcement mechanism or even a reporting mechanism in regards to these standards.

    Howard Gadlin's recent JIOA article makes an interesting assertion that programs interested in effectiveness should be "audited" as to the degree to which they conform to the standards of practice. Recently had a discussion with a client about exactly this - a review of the program for compliance to the SOPs and COEs.

    This is an issue that IOA might choose to become more active in. While certification has pressed forward, creating a system for asserting individuals are adequately knowledgeable or not for the role, dozens of "non-compliant" "Ombuds" programs have been initiated. Many of these site the SOPs and COEs, and then show via materials or other modes, radical non-compliance. One can only wonder what their performance of function might look like if audited to the standards.