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Minnesota Community Living 2013-09-10 How the CAVL Benefits this Board Member
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by Lynn Boergerhoff, Woodstock Townhome Association

I was ready to hit the ground running when I accepted the presidency of our townhome association master board two years ago. For five years before, I had simply paid my monthly assessment, gone to work, lived life oblivious to my membership in a community association. Now I had volunteered to join a board of directors to lead and manage a large non-profit corporation of 227 family units in 67 townhome style buildings. I was pleased to have the opportunity. I welcomed the challenge. I had two special projects in mind (a first-time resident survey and an emergency preparedness plan). We would win the CAI-MN Vision Award for associations over 100 units.

First, I had a lot to learn.

Maybe you felt that way, too. Managing the day-to-day issues was a significant learning curve. It would consume as much time and effort as I could provide. I was suddenly hearing unfamiliar terms like reserve funding, operating budget, fidelity insurance, FHA certification, special assessment and MCIOA. I wanted to learn as much and as quickly as I could. All of my fellow board members were homeowner volunteers like me. None of us were property managers, attorneys, insurance agents, professional contractors or therapists. Yet we were frequently responding to complex issues among homeowners and with organizations outside our association, all in the context of our governing documents, federal and state laws, and local ordinances. Sometimes the actions taken or deferred by previous boards emerged with new urgency. Every one of our two-hour bi-monthly master board meetings had a full agenda all important issues pressing for discussion and decisions.

I soon realized I wanted and needed to talk to board members in other associations to understand how other associations were organized and operated, what issues they encountered, how they led and managed. I needed context to understand us in the outside world.

Joining CAI, the national Community Association Institute, and CAI-MN, our Minnesota chapter, has helped make that possible. Here’s how.

First, I attended nearly every education session. I sometimes have to hear something more than once before it sinks in. I didn’t mind the repetition. I looked around to see many people like me taking notes and reading the handouts. We asked questions and learned from the responses. By the start of my second term, I was beginning to feel like I could get this presidency thing.

Second, I read CAI’s bi-monthly magazines. CAI-MN publishes Minnesota Community Living with articles written by local experts and volunteer community association leaders. Common Ground, CAI’s magazine for Community Association Leaders provides a national perspective that broadened my thinking about issues that sometimes reached beyond the local community association scene.

Third, I browsed the CAI’s resource catalogues where I found more than 110 publications written for new and experienced board members. I purchased several publications of best practices and guidebooks on specific topics our Board was facing. In addition, the CAI education course catalog describes the CAI annual conference and exposition (held last May in San Diego), webinars, seminars, retreats, workshops, and classroom instruction for volunteer leaders and professional managers.

Fourth, I attended the annual Trade Show at the St. Paul Xcel Center in March. The trade show offers educational content for community association volunteer leaders and managers as well as information about services provided by a wide range of professional vendors. I learned a lot talking with the experts.

Finally, as I felt more comfortable in my new president’s skin, I volunteered for CAI-MN’s Communications committee. CAI-MN has several committees with opportunities for volunteer board members to participate.

So, my take-away has been first things first. It takes time to build an understanding of leadership in community association living. As for my special projects, they will happen in due time and the Vision Award is still a vision.

I like community association living and I see a great future for us. I plan to keep learning.

Published by Community Associations Institute — Minnesota Chapter, copyright 2013. All articles and paid advertising represent the opinions of authors and advertisers and not necessarily the opinion of either Minnesota Community Living or CAI–Minnesota Chapter. The information contained within should not be construed as a recommendation for any course of action regarding financial, legal, accounting, or other professional services by the CAI–Minnesota Chapter, or by Minnesota Community Living, or its authors. Articles, letters to the editor, and advertising may be sent to Chapter Staff Editor Joanne Penn at, or at CAI–Minnesota Chapter, 1000 Westgate Dr., Suite 252, St. Paul, MN 55114.

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