• Being on the board of a community association can be both rewarding and difficult — a minefield for even the most seasoned and well-intentioned mediator.

    Laws at the federal, state and local levels are changed, passed, or modified; buildings start showing their age; interest rates come and go more than two-celebrity marriages, and that doesn’t even take into account budget constraints, insurance companies and community elections.

    If you are among the more than 66 million Americans who live in a homeowners association or condominium, you might be thinking of “becoming the change you want to see in the world,” by serving on your association board. To that point, educating yourself is of paramount importance to you, your neighbors and community.

    This is why Community Associations Institute (CAI), a national education and advocacy group, is offering a new, comprehensive education course that will help community association board members better understand association operations, management and governance.

    “We know from national surveys that association board members are dedicated volunteers doing their very best to serve their communities and neighbors,” says CAI Chief Executive Officer Thomas Skiba, CAE. “But that doesn’t mean they know everything they need to know. Many boards get in trouble because they don’t know what they don’t know. That’s why this course can be helpful.”

        A Big Commitment

    Although there is typically a eyes-wide-open mentality about the time that will be devoted to volunteering to the association, Skiba points out that the role also requires a commitment to understanding the legal, leadership and operational obligations of the position.

    “The information and insights conveyed in the workshop can save association leaders time, money and unnecessary headaches, perhaps even help them avoid costly, divisive lawsuits,” says Skiba. “Even with a skilled community manager or attorney, board members can find themselves facing the unanticipated surprises and traps that association boards inevitably encounter.”

    In this way, CAI has tapped into the experience of experts in the community association business to develop a workshop that is available both as an online course and a classroom workshop by CAI chapters. The curriculum, Skiba says, is for both self-managed communities and those association boards that rely on a professional community manager or an associated management company.

        Highlights of the Workshop

    The Board of Leadership Development Workshop provides association board members with information and perspective on the key elements of community association operations. So, whether you’re a newly elected officer or a tenured board member, there’s something for everyone. The following is a sampling of what the program includes:
    •    The functions of president, secretary and treasurer
    •    Governing documents
    •    Finances and reserve funding
    •    Board and annual meetings
    •    Rules compliance and enforcement