By Kiara Candelaria
©2020 Community Associations Institute
SANDRA K. DENTON, CMCA, LSM, PCAM, general manager of Sienna Associations in Missouri City, Texas, has spent three decades contributing to CAI in numerous capacities. She was crucial in reorganizing the governance and membership structure during her tenure as CAI president in 2005. Denton has managed large-scale community associations for more than 30 years and has advocated for the community association housing model in various roles. She is an active volunteer in the CAI Greater Houston Chapter, a longtime faculty member, a commissioner for the Community Association Managers International Certification Board (CAMICB), and has served on the board of the Foundation for Community Association Research. Denton is the recipient of CAI's 2019 Distinguished Service Award, which recognizes her long-standing contributions to community associations and to CAI. —Interview by Kiara Candelaria
What are the unique challenges of large-scale communities?
Keeping up with residents' diverse expectations, which are always evolving and changing. The challenge is to make sure that the community remains top in its market, so that property values continue to be enhanced.
What are your tips for transitioning a community from developer control?
Having a plan in place and making sure that there's resident input early on. Ideally, it's a gradual transition of control. People bought a home because of what the developer created, so working together, communicating, and focusing on why people bought there helps.
What motivates you to volunteer with CAI?
To improve the professionalism of community association management and have influence on legislative issues. I've been very passionate about educating managers and educating board members about the benefits of hiring managers. As legislation has increased, it's become more important that community associations have managers to guide them.
What can be done to elevate community management?
From the education side, there should be more universities offering it as a degree. And through action, we should show that we can provide our expertise to boards instead of simply acting as an administrator. We can give our opinions and direction as opposed to passively listening to them discuss some issues.
How can diversity be improved in the profession?
We have to recognize that we can put a concerted effort on education. We can bring exposure to community association management by offering more beginner-level education to people in different fields who can transfer some of their skills. Maybe that's focusing on community colleges, which are more affordable for people in highly diverse areas, or with classes that real estate professionals have to take to obtain their license.
What do you enjoy outside of work and volunteering?
Traveling and spending time with family and friends. I ran with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, last summer. It was one of the scariest things I've ever done, but I'm a runner and I thought, “I can do this."
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