The term ‘board member’ is sometimes associated with holding a political position. In co-op and condominium boards, this is not the case. Board members in the political sense are paid for their time and services. Board members in a co-op or condominium board are volunteers and often take time away from work and family as part of their commitment to board meetings, fellow members, and residents.
A board member is elected based on their experience and willingness to be a part of a building's board, which is tasked with the management and well being of the building and it's residents. Sometimes it’s a grand-fathered in position from one family generation to another, and other times it’s simply members who are looking for a way to become more involved in their buildings.
What Does Diversity Mean?
Over time, the word diversity has evolved and created various meanings depending on the context in which the word is used. Let’s dive deeper.
In previous years - 50 years ago, when a corporate board of directors spoke of diversity they were often referring only to race or gender. Fast forward to today and the word is used to describe gender identity, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, political preferences, age, and many others variables.
It’s been stated that most co-op and condo boards have changed in the past 5 years to conform with the new characteristics of diversity. Boards now want to have greater diversity among their board members because a diverse board means a better understanding and more options for residents to have someone to connect with when it comes to their various perspectives and situations.
Choosing a Board Member
In some situations, the co-op board or a building's property management company will post a flier on the buildings bulletin letting residents know there is an opening to serve, only to receive one or two applications. When the candidate pool is limited, board members may be obligated to pick the first candidate who completes an application, regardless of normal board processes.
Does Seniority Over Rule Newbies?
Often, board members are the buildings residents who have lived within the building the longest. Why? Typically, it has nothing to do with seniority and everything to do with the fact of being more emotionally and financially invested in the building.
If you’ve lived in a property for a long time, you'll have some emotional ties to the building. When a new board member comes into play and wants to switch things up, you may be more apt to put your hand up and say, “Now, hold on a minute!” This causes homeowners to become more willing to step up and play the role of board member.
The question at hand – does seniority over rule newbies? In many boards, yes. But today, more and more young families are moving into buildings and want to be involved in what happens, especially if they have young children. The ideal “senior-run” board is no longer the norm.
Successfully Recruiting New Board Members
When a board member opening is up for election, it is important the property management company and the board itself drive attention to the opportunity. They can do this by putting fliers on each floor, in the elevators, on the homeowner’s online portal, sending out emails, etc. Board members should also see the benefits of recruiting new and possibly younger residents into the role.
If you’re a resident, try to get involved. Even though serving on your building's board is voluntary, it could be a great way to meet other homeowners, look after your building, and give you a sense of pride in where you reside.
All Area is New York City’s leading real estate management company specializing in full-service property management for cooperative and condominium boards in the Manhattan area.