Being on a board of an association is no picnic. There are tons of decisions to be made, disputes to settle, finances to keep track of and a chance of being sued for a slip-up. So why do so many people decide to serve on a board—some for years at a time? Even though it's easy to lose sight of them under the pressure and responsibility, there are benefits to being on a board.
Even long-serving board members—those individuals who get elected and re-elected term after term and have been in office since the Truman administration—enjoy giving back to their community and protecting their most important investment. There are, however, pros and cons for boards that have several long-term members on board.
Accentuating the Positive
Perhaps the biggest benefit of having a cadre of seasoned board members overseeing one’s association is the fact that they have unparalleled institutional memory. Knowledge of past successes and failures, familiarity of the various professionals along with the various roles of board members and professions and continuity of policies and procedures are the top three reasons why veteran board members are such a vital component to a successful board, says Arthur Bartikofsky, CPM, senior vice president of the high rise department of FirstService Residential in Eatontown, New Jersey.
Michael Pesce, PCAM, president of Community Management Corp. in Clifton, New Jersey, agrees. “Veteran board members obviously have the experience to know what works and does not work, which vendors are good and dependable and which are to be avoided, and how to conduct the business of the association, from running board meetings to understanding and handling the association’s finances,” Pesce says.
Multi-term board members also are important because they can hold down the metaphorical fort when new members join the board. In today’s world, running an association can be like running a small multi-national corporation—the stakes are high with hundreds of units and millions of dollars in play. It can take up to a full term for new board members to learn the ins-and-outs of procedures, bylaws, meeting rules and other details.