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I just moved into a new co-op building and would like to get involved with the board. How should I go about doing so? Signed, Eager Shareholder
When we interview people prior to their buying an apartment, we always ask if they are interested in someday joining the board. But most buildings would prefer someone who has lived in the building for awhile.
So your best bet is to get to know your neighbors, especially the current board members, and volunteer for any committees. Different buildings have different rules so make yourself knowledgeable about the ones in your residence. Find out if there are any pressing issues going on so you have a sense of what you might be up against. Also, let everyone know what you could bring to the table. And finally, familiarize yourself with your board's term limits and who is running and/or up for election.
Boards are usually very excited about seeing someone with a financial background who is willing to serve, as well as lawyers and people in management positions. Many boards never have enough people willing to run and will encourage anyone who is even remotely interested. Other boards are closed and tight knit and would prefer to keep the same people year after year. If that is the kind of board that your building has, it will be more difficult (but not impossible) to run for a seat. Find out which kind of board you have and act accordingly.
The first time I ran for the board I wrote a letter with all of my qualifications and sent it to everyone in the building. I then invited everyone in for cocktails. So I got to meet some people I didn’t know and was able to hear the concerns of shareholders. And, as in almost every situation, being friendly (and offering a drink or a cup of coffee) works wonders.
I won hands down!
Dianne Ackerman is the new voice of reason behind Ms. Demeanor. She has lived in her Upper East Side co-op for the past 20 years and is the vice president of her co-op board. She is filled with opinions that she gladly shares with all who ask—and some who do not. Have something that needs sorting out? Drop her an email.