#IOA2020 Annual Conference Cancelled 

Updates Regarding Conference

Last Updated 11 March 2020

Dear IOA Supporters:

The IOA Board of Directors has made the difficult decision that, due to unanticipated circumstances beyond its control, it must cancel the IOA Annual Conference as well as the pre-conference sessions and professional development courses scheduled in Portland, Oregon, 27 March–1 April 2020.

The Board reached this decision only after concluding it would be impossible to hold the conference as planned. The coronavirus continues to spread in Oregon (and elsewhere) and the number of COVID-19 cases in Oregon continues to increase. This has resulted in the Governor of Oregon declaring a state of emergency in Oregon in addition to other emergency declarations that have been issued by the CDC, WHO, and the governors of many other states. Indeed, just today, the World Health Organization made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic. The Board’s decision reflects its determination that proceeding with the conference under these circumstances could endanger the health and well-being of conference participants. In fact, many people who had previously registered have already canceled due to travel restrictions and health and safety concerns.

In addition, the number of speaker and panel presenter cancellations to date has substantially impaired our ability to deliver a meaningful conference and pre-conference experience to members and attendees. A special task force of subject matter experts and leaders, together with staff, is working with the Conference Committee, Professional Development Committee, and hotel representatives in Portland to explore options such as postponing the conference and pre-conference offerings, delivering modified programming at a later date, and/or holding virtual programming. None of those options, however, change the fact that the Board determined it needed to act now to cancel the conference so IOA and those who were hoping to attend the conference will have certainty in their conference planning. We will be announcing more details as they become available.

For those who had planned to attend, IOA is working to minimize any inconvenience. Full refunds for registrations will be processed soon—please stay tuned for a confirmation of your refund. Your patience is much appreciated as our team will be handling a large volume of transactions.

We would also like to take this opportunity to recognize the outstanding work of the Conference Committee in designing what promised to be an exceptional conference, the Professional Development Committee in organizing valuable pre-conference courses, and countless other volunteers who contributed to making this year’s gathering one to remember, including program presenters and professional development instructors. We realize the IOA Annual Conference is one of the most valuable benefits to members and supporters, cherished by many as a chance not only to learn but also to connect and network in person. Although we will miss seeing everyone in Portland at the end of the month, IOA is exploring creative options to capture and share as much #IOA2020 content and experience as possible at a later date, as noted above. Please stay tuned!

We will soon be posting an announcement from the CO-OP® Board regarding accommodations to address the lost PDH credit opportunity resulting from the cancellation of the conference.

We are thinking about you all and will be working on ways to stay connected and support each other through the IOA website and other creative venues. In the meantime, the conference’s cancellation is uncharted territory for IOA, and we appreciate your patience as we work through this challenge and explore the best path forward. 

If you have any questions, please contact IOA via email at [email protected].

Thank you for your close attention to this information,

Marcia Martínez-Helfman
International Ombudsman Association
President 2019–2020

Charles Howard
International Ombudsman Association
Executive Director