The First-Year Board Member Experience

I decided to run for the board after some encouragement from friends I had made in the neighborhood. I was trying to get involved in the community as much as possible, and with board elections coming up, I thought it was a great opportunity.

Since joining the board, I have learned a lot. I have learned to apply my own personal skills, talents, and strengths for the betterment of the community I proudly call home. Here are a few of my main takeaways so far:

  1. A lot of residents do not have a solid understanding of the neighborhood rules and regulations. It is vital that the board members do have a good understanding of these rules to help conduct business, but also to answer questions as they come up. Investing the time as a volunteer to help educate the membership in a positive and proactive way will cut down on the number of misunderstandings that can result in “bad blood” between neighbors.
  2. You will get as much out of serving on the board as you put into it. It can be hard work serving on the board. Running a neighborhood is not easy. You can choose to just do the minimum or you can go out of your way to improve your neighborhood. For me, it is gratifying when projects are completed, and the neighborhood is better for it. Working closely with Management to ensure projects are properly planned and executed with little impact upon the membership is key.
  3. 2020 appears to have considerably impacted contractors and service providers in numerous ways. Being a first-year board member during a pandemic required considerable patience and understanding to handle schedule changes, supply shortages and other delays.
  4. Working with good outside resources is very important. Our management brings a lot of expertise to the table that us “regular” people do not have. There are a lot of processes in place to run the neighborhood that management assist with on a daily basis. There are also a multitude of legal matters that need to be considered, so having a knowledgeable attorney is crucial.
  5. Things take time! As a homeowner in a community, one may wonder why it takes “so long” to get resolution to a matter or complete an improvement project. Or amend the documents or adopt a resolution. Boards are comprised of volunteers. They have lives outside of being a board member. Our Board meets only 6 times a year. With a full meeting agenda and the confines of the budget, the legal recorded documents, state legislation, contractor schedules and availability and the list goes on and on…things just take time in the world of community associations.

I would recommend volunteering as a board member or a committee member to folks who really want to get involved and work hard to improve their community. It is not easy, and it can be a lot of work. However, it is also very rewarding knowing you have helped improve your neighborhood and increased the neighborhood value in the process.

By Jake Mauck

Jake is a first-year member of the Westbrook Court Condominium board of directors in Fairfax, VA managed by Cardinal Management Group, Inc. Having lived in the Fairfax area his whole life, graduating from JMU in 2017, he and his wife moved to Westbrook in 2019. He was elected to the board of directors in 2020.