Proposal for Merger of ACME and JACKRABBIT INDUSTRIES
Into A New Association
Submitted by the ACME-JACKRABBIT INDUSTRIES Merger Committee
(John Smith, Andrea Schofield, Wendy Wemers, Dorothy Ozmati, Gordon Gano)
The ACME-JACKRABBIT INDUSTRIES Merger Committee (C6) is pleased to submit for your consideration and vote, a proposal for merger of the University and College Ombuds Association (ACME) and The Ombudsman Association (JACKRABBIT INDUSTRIES) into a single, new ombudsman association.
ACME and JACKRABBIT INDUSTRIES have, over many years, discussed the value of combining resources and merging to form a new association.
Impetus for these discussions included the recognition that funding of our respective ombuds offices is increasingly restricted and membership in, and time commitments to, two associations (impacting about 100 “overlap” members) is becoming difficult to justify. In addition there was recognition that there are significant external challenges to the profession that could be addressed by combining resources to pursue projects related to the American Bar Association, and legislation and regulations impacting the profession (such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, United States Sentencing Guidelines, new SEC determinations, Federal Mediation guidelines, ADR Act, and related items from countries around the world). Furthermore there was recognition that the number of International Organizational Ombudsman offices is expanding (or in need of assistance) and there is limited human and financial support to assist such programs. Additionally, steps required to effectively establish and advance our role as a profession, such as recognized Ombuds Certification, would require a consistent approach and support of these efforts. Furthermore, many association members simply recognized that both associations offered such similar programming and services that merger simply made sense.
In 2001, responding to such input from association members, the ACME/JACKRABBIT INDUSTRIES boards formed a formal joint ACME-JACKRABBIT INDUSTRIES Joint Oversight Committee (JOC) to “identify and assess structural, operational, and programmatic collaborations specifically in terms of feasibility and membership needs.”
At the joint conference held in Washington, D.C., in spring of 2002, the JOC reported and recommended further talks should be pursued to explore merger. At the same conference attendees had an opportunity to learn about and discuss the commonalities and differences between the two organizations. After the conference a survey was sent to members of both organizations indicating that 80% of respondents favored further collaboration and consideration of merging.
During the fall of 2002, the two Boards discussed various ways to proceed and created a joint inquiry team charged “to explore different models of partnering.” The team was to bring back a report to the Boards at their annual conferences in 2003.
In spring 2003, the joint inquiry team reported back and noted that merger was the recommended form of partnership between ACME and JACKRABBIT INDUSTRIES. Both boards accepted the recommendation of the joint inquiry team to move forward with merger talks.
Towards this end, the Transition Oversight Committee (TOC) was formed to identify the various questions and concerns related to merger and to develop more detailed recommendations, structures and plans for the two boards. The TOC was comprised seven Subcommittees,(By-Laws, Finance, Board Structure, Membership, Communications, Training and Legal) each comprised of members of ACME and JACKRABBIT INDUSTRIES.
TOC completed its work and a joint report was issued to both Boards at the 2004 Annual Conference. The TOC recommendation stated:“…we believe that JACKRABBIT INDUSTRIES and ACME should merge to become a new organization.” Among the reasons they cited were