Community Association of the Year (CAY) Awards


DEADLINE: The 2024 deadline is Tuesday, October 1st, 2024.

There are more than 333,600 association-governed communities in the United States. What sets your community apart from the crowd? Washington Metropolitan Chapter Community Associations Institute is looking for the communities that best represent common-interest community living, excel in two-way communications with residents, and think of others beyond the community’s borders.

There are six awards. Four of the awards are based on community size:

  • Very Large (1000+ units)
  • Large (500-999 units)
  • Medium (150-499 units)
  • Small (1-149 units)

Winners in these four categories are not eligible to compete in the contest the following year. All communities are eligible to apply for the Communicator of the Year and/or Charitable Community of the Year awards every year.

What is the Community Association of the Year Award (CAY)?

During the application process for the Community Association of the Year award, we encourage you to start planning for what the next steps will look like for your involvement if your community wins an award. Winning a CAY award opens the door to further involvement and recognition from CAI. We encourage applicants to consider selecting a representative who would attend and present your best practices as an Association at the annual Washington Metropolitan Chapter CAI Conference & Expo. Winning communities will also be recognized and featured in our monthly Quorum magazine, so we ask that you submit photos showing off your community when you submit your application. Participation in CAY is a wonderful opportunity to not only show off your community, but also to gain exposure to a broader network of industry volunteers, professionals, and business partners.

If you are hesitant about applying or have additional questions about the application process, don’t worry! You can reach out to us anytime at and there will be virtual working sessions scheduled and available for all to join and ask questions or seek clarification on the application process. Once the schedule is finalized, the dates and how to join will be posted and we look forward to hearing from you!

Before You Submit Your Application…

Before you begin…please download and use this checklist as you complete your application.

2024 Applications

Community Association of the Year (CAY)

The Community Association of the Year Award recognizes the communities that best demonstrate excellence in all facets of association operations and governance by following CAI’s Best Practices. The application focuses on the essentials of community association management and volunteer leadership. The statements are designed to determine how well your community incorporates Best Practices into its operations.

Communicator of the Year

The Communicator of the Year Award shall recognize the community association in the Washington metro area that best demonstrates commitment to CAI’s best practices in both educating and informing association members through accurate and relevant information, and receiving member feedback in accordance with guidelines and principles as set forth by CAI GAP Report on Communications.

Charitable Community of the Year

The Charitable Community of the Year Award shall be awarded to the community association that best demonstrates exemplary service to the community outside their own association. Applicants shall be judged for outstanding service to the community in areas of community service and charitable works.

DEADLINE: The 2024 deadline is Tuesday, October 1st, 2024.

Dropbox Application Submission

Special Recognition Awards

In addition to the Community Association of the Year, WMCCAI may also recognize communities with the title of Communicator of the Year and/or Charitable Community of the Year as described below. Additional information is required for participation in these contests as described in Sections B and C of this application. Communities are encouraged to participate in all three contests!

Does your community want to apply for the Community Association of the Year award but aren’t sure where to start? View our previously recorded CAY Orientation featuring both past winners and current judges as they discuss the in’s and out’s of the Community Association of the Year Awards, including helpful tips and common mistakes to avoid when filling out the application.

2024 Contest Flyer

2021 Very Large Community of the Year: Dominion Valley Owners Association

Dominion Valley Owners Association of Haymarket, Virginia was named Community Association of the Year in the Very Large Category. They are managed by Associa Community Management Corporation (CMC). This is the essay submitted with the community’s application.

By Gary Clukey

I have called Dominion Valley, our community nestled in Haymarket, Virginia, my home for 18 years. I have experienced it blossom from barren soil to almost 2,500 homes with diverse and rich amenities.

Eight years ago, we inherited, from our developer (Toll Brothers), a robust set of Governing Documents. Our 7-member Board understood the criticality of strong governance and efficiently established 10 volunteer committees (each with corresponding charters) to assist our on-site CMC Management Staff. Resolutions (consistent with WMCCAI’s Best Practices) have been added and refined over the years. Continuously leveraging insight from CAI, we developed Strategic and Business Continuity Plans and scorecards to provide an additional framework for clearly defined and measurable objectives so that our Leadership Team have a methodology to track and communicate progress.

Our Leadership Team believes strongly in the pursuit of continuous improvement and preparation, which are pillars of good governance. Our $5mm annual budget contains a fully funded Reserve account, which has enabled us to keep annual dues increases below 3% without ever having to levy a special assessment.  And I’m particularly proud of our Association’s resilience and adaptations during the past year in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our number one priority was the safety of our residents and families, but our vision was to enable our close-knit community to be somewhat of a refuge. Working with our legal advisor, we created a brand-new reservation system and revised facility policies and procedures referencing CDC and State guidelines, as well as CAI recommendations. As a result of these actions, we opened all amenities while many other surrounding communities remained shuttered.

We also pursued, via our all-volunteer Access Control Task Force, a major capital improvement project to replace our access control system at our eight gates. We successfully adapted and held our annual clean-up day and a modified winter holiday event. We updated our design guidelines to permit solar panels consistent with our vision to advancing sustainable initiatives and partnered with the Fire Department to create fire lanes to facilitate emergency response. Each of these efforts brought a discreet benefit to our community.

Our CMC Staff flawlessly executed our Business Continuity Plan by closely coordinating with our many providers to keep all essential services operating without disruption. Our monthly Board and Committee meetings and the Annual Owners’ meeting (including resident forums) were conducted virtually, and the Association continued the use of our multi-channel engagement leveraging blast email; Facebook and Website posts; our quarterly Valley Voice periodical; US Mail; town halls; banners at access gates; posters at recreation centers; and resident surveys. Knowing many residents felt a sense of dislocation during the pandemic, we made every effort to bring us closer together as a community.

Dominion Valley was selected as WMCCAI’s 2015 Very Large Community of the Year, and 2019 Communicator of the Year. We value this recognition as a testament to our ongoing efforts and would be honored to become the standard-bearer of WMCCAI’s Best Practices and 2021 Very Large Community of the Year.