By Kiara Candelaria
©2022 Community Associations Institute
JESSICA TOWLES, CMCA, AMS, PCAM, vice president of community associations at Hammersmith Management, AAMC, in Englewood, Colo., has spent 24 years in community association management. She was exposed to the profession at a young age through two family members who worked with communities in the Chicago area. Towles pursued the career after college and is a longtime member of the CAI Board of Trustees. She served two terms as chair of the Community Association Managers Council, is a member of the education faculty, and has contributed her expertise to initiatives to attract job seekers to community management. As CAI's 2022 president, Towles is looking forward to bringing people back together and emphasizing the importance and success of the CAI community. —Interview by Kiara Candelaria
Why should people consider community management?
This job can help develop numerous skills. The manager role might not be the best fit, but there also are customer care, accounting, or administrative roles. Those who enjoy helping people succeed in the industry.
What is the most challenging part of managing communities?
Knowing how to communicate effectively, especially when deescalating a situation, and setting expectations for our homeowners, board members, employees, and business partners. As managers, we want to help and often have a hard time saying 'no.' Learning to say 'no' in a positive way helps us set boundaries so we don't devalue ourselves.
What's your mission as CAI's 2022 president?
Bringing people back together and trying to break down silos, particularly between CAI's distinct membership groups of homeowner leaders, community managers, and business partners. It takes a community to do what we do, whether we call it profession, industry, or home.
How can we engage the next generation of managers?
Initiatives like the CAI Rocky Mountain Chapter's apprenticeship program are instrumental in providing hands-on experience. We can go one step further and help people who may be right out of high school or in community college obtain that higher education while they develop industry knowledge. It's an added cost, but we can't attract and retain talent if we can't help our own people grow.
Why should managers pursue continuing education?
People don't realize how much we are responsible for and how it's constantly changing. State statutes and federal laws are always in motion. Also, there's always something we could be doing better. If we don't learn, we become stagnant and lack the knowledge to help clients and colleagues.
What do you enjoy most about working with community associations?
I love offering multiple solutions to solve problems. Giving board members ideas and options to find a resolution makes them feel better about their role and about being part of their community.
How do you spend your free time?
Mostly with family or volunteering with Habitat for Humanity. It's important for me to ensure that people have a safe place to lay their heads at night. My favorite part is building a home alongside the future owners and teaching them how to maintain and help grow their investment.
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