July 14, 2016

United States Ombudsman Association Opens Registration for 2016 Conference in Virginia

USOA has announced the details of its 37th annual conference to be held on October 19-21, 2016 in Arlington, Virginia.  "The Ombudsman: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Fairness" will feature presentations from many of the leading public sector Ombuds.  The conference will be preceded by two workshops on October 17 and 18.
Here's a summary of the agenda:

Pre-Conference Agenda
October 17-18
New Ombudsman Training
This popular two-day workshop is designed for individuals who are relatively new to the role of government ombudsman. Faculty includes general jurisdiction/legislative ombudsmen and executive branch/agency-specific ombudsmen with more than 50 years of collective experience in their respective offices. Participants will learn about the origin, characteristics and standards of an ombudsman office. Instructors will discuss basic intake, interviewing and investigation techniques, reports and will present a case study to enable participants to apply knowledge to practice. The workshop will examine the role of the ombudsman in promoting an ethical climate in our organizations as well as review ethical challenges an ombudsman may face. Participants will also have the opportunity to discuss best practices, time saving tips and tools of the trade with a group of experienced, seasoned ombudsmen.
Instructors: Kristie Hirschman – Senior Assistant, Iowa Office of Ombudsman; Linda Lord-Jenkins – Ombudsman, State of Alaska; Robin K. Matsunaga – Ombudsman, State of Hawaii; Gerald R. Papica – Ombudsman Program Director, TN Commission on Children and Youth

October 17 or 18
One-Day Workshop (offered twice and attendance capped at 40 each day): “Dealing with Unreasonable Complainant Conduct”
Unreasonable complainant conduct (UCC) can take up an inordinate amount of an agency’s time and resources. Participants will learn the strategies developed as part of a joint project by the nine Australian Parliamentary Ombudsman offices to deal with UCC. This popular and world-renowned one-day workshop will provide participants with specific strategies and skills to effectively and confidently deal with UCC. It is designed for staff who come into contact with, or respond to, complainants or customers who display unreasonable conduct, as well as supervisors and senior management responsible for setting complaint handling policy. The workshop will also examine participant examples of unreasonable complainant conduct.
Participants will learn: Strategies for managing UCC; Key messages for complainants/clients/staff; Ways to support staff in implementing UCC strategies; and Staff health and safety considerations.
Instructor: Donald Sword – Educator and Advocate, New South Wales, Australia

Conference Agenda
October 18
Opening Reception

October 19
Conference Opening and Welcome Remarks
Plenary Session
“Equity and the Ombudsman : Ensuring Fairness for All Communities”
What is equity? Why does it matter? How does this affect the work of the ombudsman? And most importantly, how can ombudsmen be an effective resource to the communities that need them most? This session will answer these questions and provide practical hints and tips that attendees can incorporate into their daily work."
Presenters: Judi Martin – District Ombudsman, Portland Public Schools, Oregon; Jonathan T. Stier – Senior Deputy Ombudsman, King County Ombudsman's Office, Washington;
Concurrent Sessions
“From Many Cases, One Report: Annual Reporting Designed for Impact”
An annual report is your opportunity to showcase your office. It familiarizes readers with your authority, your successes, and your data. An annual report also confirms your office’s value. In this session, two ombudsmen will discuss their annual reports, including elements and production, style choices, budget, report release strategies and impacts. Bring copies of your office’s annual reports along to share!
Presenters: Kristie Hirschman – Senior Assistant, Iowa Office of Ombudsman; Ruth Miles – Small Business Advocate, Oregon Secretary of State
“Making Federal Fair”
The federal government has established important tools for the public in achieving regulatory fairness. The SBA’s (Small Business Administration) office of the National Ombudsman is one such office that works with small businesses and across agency lines. Learn how they creatively juggle an enormous caseload, focus on agency relationships, and work to make the application of federal regulations fair.
Presenters: Earl Gay – National Ombudsman and Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Enforcement Fairness, U.S. Small Business Administration; Yolanda Swift – Deputy National Ombudsman for Regulatory Fairness Programs, U.S. Small Business Administration
Concurrent Sessions
“Where Are They Now? Reaching Audiences in the Digital Age”
Are your office’s communications effective in today’s digital age? This presentation session will discuss the communications challenges facing government organizations in light of rapidly changing technology. Our presenter will discuss the various social and digital platforms the GAO has adopted in order to ensure its information is seen in an information age.
Presenter: Chuck Young – Managing Director, Public Affairs, U.S. Government Accountability Office
“The American Bar Association Dispute Resolution Section Ombuds Committee: Who We are and How Can We Help”
This session will share the mission, goals, and activities of the ABA’s Dispute Resolution Ombuds Committee. Attendees and the panel will then engage in conversation on how the Committee can be of assistance to the ombudsman profession.
Panelists: Charles L. Howard – Shipman, & Goodwin LLP, Chair of the Ombudsman Committee; Wendy E. Kamenshine – Ombudsman, Consumer Finance Protection Bureau; Jonathan T. Stier – Senior Deputy Ombudsman, King County Ombudsman’s Office, Washington
Lunch and Keynote Speech
Speaker: John Barkat – Assistant Secretary-General, United Nations Ombudsman and Head of Ombudsman and Mediation Services
Concurrent Sessions
“The Child's Perspective”
Do you treat a complaint filed with your office differently if a child is impacted either directly or peripherally? Should you? Do you consider what is in the best interest of the child when reviewing a complaint? Do you know what the child’s rights are? This speaker will discuss a broad array of complaint examples provided by ombudsman’s offices with varying jurisdiction that impact children. The list includes visitation with incarcerated parents, special education and bullying in the school system, relative placement when a child is removed from the home, and law enforcement response involving children.
Presenter: Rob Geen – Director of Policy Reform and Advocacy, The Annie E. Casey Foundation;
“The Coalition of Federal Ombudsman presents: The Externally-Facing Federal Ombudsman”
The Chair of the Coalition of Federal Ombudsman will moderate a panel discussion exploring the unique structure and practices of a number of externally-facing federal ombuds. Come hear how these ombuds professionals improve the quality of federal processes and deal with the different challenges raised by serving the federal government’s stakeholders – in other words, all of us!
Moderator: Scott Deyo – Chair, Coalition of Federal Ombudsman; Panelists: Joanne Dea – Ombudsperson, US Department of Agriculture; Paul Sotoudeh – Associate Ombudsman, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; Ombudsman’s Office; Ella Yeargin – Ombudsman, Center for Tobacco Products, Food & Drug Administration
USOA Chapters Meeting
USOA members have different areas of authority, interest and expertise in their jobs. For this reason, a number of specialized chapters are organized within USOA to share experiences, resources, accomplishments and to problem-solve. This time also allows chapter members to develop a plan of action for the upcoming year. You do not have to be a chapter member to attend any of these meetings.
● Children and Families ● Federal Government ● Corrections ● Healthcare ● Education ● Municipal Government
International Ombudsman Institute Meeting

October 20
Concurrent Sessions
“The Fairness Lens”
What is fairness? As practitioners dealing with disputes, how do we look at fairness? How sharp is your fairness lens? This interactive session, using case studies, will explain the Fairness Triangle: procedural, equitable and substantive.
Presenter: Fiona Crean – Ombudsman, Hydro One, Ontario, Canada
“A Workshop on Ombuds Writing: Using A Framework to Be Clear, Concise and Effective”
In this session, participants will learn a standard writing framework used in the legal profession. The presenter will review how this framework is applicable to all types of ombuds writing, including emails, systemic analyses, and annual reports. In addition, she will discuss how this framework assists the reader in understanding how the ombuds assisted on the issue and how it assists the ombuds (the writer) in logically presenting the discussion. After learning the framework, participants will have an opportunity to do some writing to try out this framework in the ombuds context.
Presenter: Wendy E. Kamenshine – Ombudsman, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
Concurrent Sessions
“The Role of the Ombudsperson is More Than a Service”
This workshop provides an informed perspective and examines the impact of your role as an ombudsperson. By the end of this session we will have: Increased your understanding of the ombudsperson role; Explored the impact of empathy when responding to complaints while providing a fair and impartial process; Discussed effective strategies to deescalate issues and disputes; Explored outreach as an importance strategy; Networked with other ombudspersons to develop future partnerships and support.
Presenter: Ronald McGlone, McGlone Mediation Services, LLC
Lunch and USOA Annual Meeting
Plenary Session
“Detecting Deception in Telephone Interviews”
Detecting deception on the telephone is difficult, but not impossible. This presentation provides effective techniques to detect deception on the telephone. Additionally, several techniques to test for deception will be provided. These techniques can be used without the person you are talking to becoming aware that you are testing their veracity.
Presenter: Jack Schafer – Assistant Professor, Western Illinois University
Thursday Night Banquet

October 21
Plenary Session
“Emotional Intelligence: You Can’t Ombuds Without It”
Ombuds work with individuals and scenarios that are often intensely influenced by emotions. Research indicates that Emotional Intelligence (EI) is a core competency skill necessary for all ombuds, as they are regularly called upon to assist individuals in decoding emotional responses as the first step toward clarity and conflict resolution. This session is designed to help ombuds insert a practical definition of EI into their daily work and apply the body of knowledge related to EI to better equip their practice. The history behind this rapidly growing science and how EI fundamentals and ombuds competencies are intricately interwoven will be explored at length.
Key Learning Objectives: Provide a workable definition, history and scientific basis for emotional intelligence as it relates to the practice of organizational ombudsman; Assist participants in recognizing and understanding the knowledge domains of emotional intelligence and their impact on ombudsmanship; Provide useful EI resource material to equip ombuds in creating an effective office.
Presenter: Susan Casino – Ombudsman, Mediator, Conflict Resolution Expert

Conference Closing

Registration for the conference is now open.  (USOA Conf Info.)

Related posts: Follow the USOA 2010 Conference on Twitter; USOA Will Meet in Ohio for 31st Annual Conference; USOA to Elect New Board in March; United States Ombudsman Association Opens Registration for 32nd Annual Conference; USOA Announces 2012 Conference Details; USOA Posts Agenda for 2013 Annual Conference; USOA 2015 Conference Agenda Set for Arizona; USOA Seeks Proposals for 2016 Conference.

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