March 26, 2018

IOA Selects New Executive Director

The International Ombudsman Association has announced that Marla Schrager will be its new Executive Director. She succeeds Rick Koepke, who has served in the role for the past four years. Board President Ilene Butensky explained the move in an email to IOA members: 

This change grows out of Board strategic planning discussions last year regarding the need to direct the association’s energies toward external promotion of the profession through education and advocacy. Marla is an experienced association executive whose skill set is well suited to work with leadership to achieve those goals. She is active in the association community and has a professional history of effective networking leading to new and expanded opportunities for her client associations and past employers.
Schrager has worked in association management for over a decade. For the past three years she has been the Executive Director of the Society of American Travel Writers. She has held similar positions with the Chicago Advertising Federation and the Chicago Business Marketing Association. The appointment will take effect in April 2018. (LinkedIn.)

Related posts: IOA Annual Report: Association Builds on Strategic Plan in 2015IOA 2016 Annual Report: Financial Success Supports New Programs.


  1. Will this new ED actually work on lobbying for the profession and educating organizations on the value an Ombuds adds and why they need to be part of every organization? Why doesn’t Google have an Ombuds? Why doesn’t Amazon? Why doesn’t every major corporation? We are failing at forming a profession with an actual protected definition and standards. Some organizations use the word Ombudsman to mean whatever they want it to mean. Our leaders and money should go to these issues and only these issues if we are too survive as a profession. Too many Ombuds Offices are closing as we sit by and plan the same round of topics for seminars we always do at our convention. We need action.

  2. Wasn’t this supposed to be what the last ED was suppposed to do??
    It did not happen. Please, less strategic visioning and more doing Board!

  3. IOA seems poorly served by the current management company. The membership, and the profession, would be better off were IOA to ditch the current firm, regardless of whom they assign to be IOA's ED.

  4. I concur with all of the comments. It seems the board only knows one word: strategic, strategic. When will the Board realize that the ED should be a true ED lobbying for the profession, that is NOT PART of the Management company? The Board has not been transparent since Kellen has become the management company.

  5. To Kellen, we are a wallet to empty. A meeting planning company could put together the annual conference, and a committee of volunteers could organize, schedule, and implement the pathetic-little training that we offer each year.

    We should be lobbying state legislatures, etc., pushing to expand our profession. We are less ambitious than bugs under a rock. For example, towards the end of the Obama Administration, the Dept. of Education issued a ruling about Ombuds that was misguided. Whatever one's opinion of the Trump Administration, one cannot help but conclude that it views the world differently than the Obama Administration. Nevertheless, in the past 14 months, where has been our push to get the Education Department to reverse its Obama era ruling?

    I am damned good at what I do. Many other members of IOA are too. We should expect our hired staff to be as well. Kellen works for us, and they seem not to see it that way.

  6. In all fairness, IOA and the Coalition of Federal Ombudsman did address the matter with the Dept of Ed:

    IOA Pushes Back on Department of Education's Stance on Clery Act

    Coalition of Federal Ombudsman Weighs In on Clery Act

  7. In all fairness, do you really think one letter qualifies as "pushing back"? What is going on with this effort NOW? Is that crickets I hear? WE NEED LOBBYING AND EDUCATIVE OUTREACH. Period. Get on this for goodness sakes, Board. No more strategic visions. CURRENT ACTION PLEASE.