Association Insights

Don’t Just Join, Get Involved: Why Managers Should Be Involved in CAI

Most managers will likely admit that they joined CAI because their employer required them to or they need to attend the educational programs to earn certifications. By attending educational programs, managers increase their knowledge and are better able to perform their jobs. Continued education is also a requirement to hold the certifications available to managers, such as CMCA, AMS, PCAM and LSM.

The more important question that needs answering is why managers should actively participate in events sponsored by Community Associations Institute (CAI) and the Washington Metropolitan Chapter Community Associations Institute (WMCCAI). Like most things in life, it is up to you to decide how much you will get out of membership. While there are a lot of variables between community associations, there are also a lot of commonalities. Managers and board members have experiences with the same issues. So, as they say, why re-invent the wheel?

Attending WMCCAI educational and networking events provides an excellent opportunity to learn from industry experts, colleagues, and volunteer community leaders.

Not only can you learn but you can also share your own expertise and experience with colleagues.  WMCCAI offers at least one education experience a month year-round. In 2018, webinars were added to bring education right to you. Luncheons, breakfast showcases, and interactive roundtables are offered throughout the region and feature topics chosen by members.

Networking is key to success in any industry. By regularly attending events or participating on a committee, members get to know one another and form professional and personal relationships. Those connections are invaluable when you need advice or when an emergency strikes your community; having trusted, professional friends to call on shows your communities you are educated, respected and well-connected in the community association industry.  Not to mention – career advancement and growth is often the result of “who you know”!

The chapter needs members’ involvement to build programs; managers who volunteer their time of committees find great benefit to their careers.

 Opportunities to learn new skills extends beyond education session. Serving on a chapter committee gives members a voice to guide the chapter’s programs. With 11 committees ranging from education, membership, events, advocacy, and communications, there is something for all interests and skills. Take a look at your resume – is there a skill you want to improve? Committee work is perfect for on-the-job learning! Find the list of committees on the chapter website – all are welcome at any meeting!

Balancing job demands with time to participate can be challenging. This can be even more challenging for on-site managers and association-employed managers. It is a lot easier for a manager to be actively involved when they have the support of their board. Most board members were likely unfamiliar with CAI until they joined the board. Therefore, the manager should introduce board members to CAI and help them understand the benefits to the board and the association. The more board members know about CAI, the more they can appreciate how they and their community can benefit from the manager’s involvement.  While attending WMCCAI committee meetings and events is fun, it is an important, work related activity.  Not only should board members be supportive of the manager’s involvement in CAI, they should also take advantage of membership.

Membership in CAI is the first step. Getting involved in the chapter is where the real magic happens!


By Deborah A. Carter, CMCA, AMS, PCAM and Jaime Barnhart, CMP

Debbie is the general manager of Westridge Swim and Racquet Club in Woodbridge, Virginia.  She is also a member of the Quorum editorial committee and the outreach committee for the Washington Metro Chapter Community Associations Institute.

Jaime is the executive director of WMCCAI.  Jaime has worked in non-profit associations for 15 years in the DC Metro area.

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