It's vital for board members to know the purpose and legal responsibilities of a community association. (Image Source, Getty Images / June 10, 2013)
A new educational program is training board members for community associations and encouraging future ones to serve. Those who successfully meet all the requirements will earn recognition as dedicated community association leaders from the Community Associations Institute of Illinois.
The goals of the program, which kicked off last month, are threefold: educate volunteers in the daily operations of their associations as well as the issues and legislation that affects them; acknowledge their efforts and dedication; and provide them with tools and resources that will help their associations flourish.
But the ultimate goal is to build stronger associations, said Sheila Malchiodi, who chairs the committee that developed the program.
"When volunteers step up to be board members, they often don't have the knowledge from their past experiences on what they should be doing, and they end up learning as they go," she said. "This program teaches them that they need to run their associations like a business and shows them how to do it."
Another problem associations often encounter is finding owners who are willing to become board members.
"Some homeowners don't understand what the job entails, or they are a little fearful of the responsibility," she said. "This gives them the confidence they can do the job."
"When board members are challenged about what they are doing, they will have an educational background to stand on," said Cheryl Murphy, the chapter's executive director.
The curriculum, which is taught by a rotating roster of industry professionals, consists of seven classroom sessions, or modules. The first six modules are 21/2-hour sessions: Introduction to Governing Your Community; Meetings and Elections; Ethics; Rules and Regulations; Insurance; and Understanding Financials: Budget, Reserves and Reports. The seventh and capstone module is a full-day session, ABC Essentials of Community Association Management.
Participants must enroll in the introductory module first. That session covers the purpose and structure of community associations, governing documents, and the responsibilities of boards, committees and owners.
"After that, they can jump in and take the next five modules in any order," Murphy said. "The ABC course is the culmination class."
Participants are allowed 24 months to complete the modules. For now, they are being given at varying times at the chapter office, 1821 Walden Office Square, Suite 100, in Schaumburg. Eventually, they will be available online and on demand.
In addition to the course work, participants must sign a code of ethics for board service. The code prescribes such standards as regular attendance at meetings, avoidance of real or perceived conflicts of interest, nonacceptance of gratuities, and diligent review of financial documents. Violators are subject to a hearing and suspension of their recognition.
Upon completion of the modules, participants will receive certificates and award pins, and they will be introduced at chapter events and in chapter publications. The public recognition is a significant component of the program, said chapter president Erica Horndasch.
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SOURCE: Chicago Tribune
Pamela Dittmer McKuen