An Insider's View Life on the Board from a Board Member's Perspective

Remember the adage that 80 percent of the work is done by 20 percent of the people? The same appears to be true of boards throughout the city.

In many cases, board members–and even certain shareholders–feel that being on a board is punishment for some indiscretion done in a previous life. Some feel that they can’t live without the angst, and others find they suffer a psychological problem. The common feeling is that being on the board of a co-op is an unrewarding and thankless job; I find just the opposite. The shareholders in my building are grateful and thankful. At each under-attended open meeting, someone always gets up and says how great a job the board is doing, how much time and energy the members put in, and that they should be applauded for their service.

I live in a very large co-op on the Manhattan’s West Side and because its so large, we are lucky enough to have a large population of very intelligent people in many areas. Our board is made up of nine people; one seat is still held by the sponsor. We meet about once a month for three to four hours. As a board member, my goal is to sit down with eight intelligent people each month and learn something new; to have a discussion about a topic and to approach that topic from a variety of disciplines and arrive at a conclusion that seems likely to succeed. While this is not always the case, I believe that we’re getting closer to this goal.

The following is a typical agenda for the monthly meeting:

1. Apartment purchases/sublets/refinances/name transfers: Our policy is that two board members review documents submitted, and then meet with prospective purchasers or sublets asking them any questions that they feel will be asked by the board in general. (These questions tend to be financial.)


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