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Board Member Education

summary

CAI supports education and training that will enable board members to understand their responsibilities and fulfill their fiduciary duty to a community association. CAI encourages boards to receive education in ethics and leadership, financials and reserves, insurance and risk management, rules creation and enforcement, meetings and elections, communication, conflict resolution and community building. State mandated education requirements should focus on incentives to encourage boards to utilize existing industry tools to achieve goals rather than creating new processes and burdens.

Introduction 

The education of members of governing boards of community associations concerning their roles and responsibilities is essential to a well-functioning community. As a result, Community Associations Institute (CAI) finds education of governing board members to be critically important.  A community association volunteer leader is a board or committee member of a condominium, housing cooperative, townhome or homeowner association, or planned community.  

Background  

Virtually every association-governed community has a governing board elected by homeowners in that community. While community managers and other professionals often provide critical support to associations, it is volunteers—elected by their co-owners or appointed by the developer—who ultimately are responsible for preserving the community, meeting expectations of neighbors and protecting property values.

An estimated two million homeowners serve on community association boards. Countless others serve on committees that deal with architectural issues, financial and budgetary issues, landscaping, and recreational amenities. In all cases, their roles can help achieve the mission of CAI which is to foster vibrant, responsible, efficient and harmonious community associations.

With few exceptions, community association board members serve for altruistic reasons, and they serve with the best interests of their communities in mind.  The law imposes a level of care and loyalty, owed by board members to their associations.  It is vital that board members receive proper education and training in order to understand their obligations and fulfill their fiduciary duty to the association. 

Community associations exist because they offer choices, lifestyles, services, amenities and efficiencies that people value, and the best associations offer a comforting sense of real community. Yet, with all the inherent advantages, associations face complicated issues, none more common than the challenge of balancing the best interests of the community as a whole, with the preferences of individual residents. Managing this critical and delicate balance is the essence of good association governance.
Every community has its own history, personality, attributes and challenges, but all associations share common characteristics and core principles. Good associations preserve the character of their communities, protect property values and meet established expectations of homeowners. Great associations also cultivate a true sense of community, promote active homeowner involvement and create a culture of informed consensus. The ideas and guidance conveyed in this policy speak to these core values and can - with commitment - inspire effective, enlightened leadership and a responsible, engaged citizenship.

POLICY

Community associations require the time of volunteers to serve on boards.  While CAI realizes the importance of education for all governing board members, state mandated requirements deserve careful evaluation by legislative action committees.  Any state mandated education requirement should focus on incentives and tools to encourage boards to utilize existing industry tools to achieve educational goals rather than create new processes or burdens.

CAI's model for Board Member training: 

  1. Within 90 days after being elected or appointed to the board of a community association, each newly elected or appointed board member should certify in writing to the secretary of the association that he or she has read the association's declaration, articles of incorporation, bylaws, governing documents, rules and current written policies; that he or she will work to uphold the documents and policies; and that he or she will uphold their fiduciary responsibility to the association's members.  The secretary should retain board members written certification for inspection by the members for 5 years after the board member's election.  Failure by any board member to hav e such written certification does not affect the validity of any board action.

  2. Board members should engage in training to increase their level of knowledge, professionalism, competence and effectiveness as leaders of community associations. CAI encourages boards to receive education in the following areas: ethics and leadership, financials and reserves, insurance and risk management, rules creation and enforcement, meetings and elections, and communication, conflict resolution, and community building.

  3. Board and committee members' should attest, and renew annually, to comply with *CAI's Model Code for Ethics for Community Association Board Members.

  4. Community association boards of directors should approve a resolution, renewed annually, to adopt and comply with *CAI's Community Association Governance Guidelines and *CAI's Rights and Responsibilities for Better Communities, and fund training programs and membership in CAI for the community association board that provides information for community association governance.  Remain current on relevant news and information related to community association governance.

Here are links to the above-referenced resources – Rights and Responsibilities for Better Communities, Model Code of Ethics for Community Association Board Members, and Community Association Governance Guidelines.  

policy history

Approved by the Government and Public Affairs Committee, July 12, 2016
Adopted by CAI Board of Trustees, August 18, 2016

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