The Toughest Job You'll Ever Love Roles and Responsibilities of a Board President

If you live in a co-op, you have one. It may be a woman, or a man; someone just starting their career, enjoying the fruits of retirement, or somewhere in between. They don't get paid, they put in many hours on your behalf, and chances are that nothing on their resume prepared them for this job. Sometimes, he or she even forgets why they wanted the job in the first place. This is your Board president. Part office manager, maintenance engineer, financier, diplomat, and motivational speaker, this individual has taken on the often-thankless job of making sure your building runs smoothly. Why do they do it? And how do they do it well? The answers are as different as the individuals doing the job.

In the Public Eye

The board president has a multi-faceted job, says Jim Quinn, who directs the co-op board of the North Shore Towers, a massive 1,844-unit building complex in Queens, which was built in 1972.

Quinn, a financial consultant, who has been in charge seven months, said his job is very rewarding but time-consuming as well. The president - part-manager, part-arbiter and part-spokesman - must set direction for the board at meetings and be the public face that the board presents to the community at large, Quinn explains.

"No. 1, he or she sets goals for the board and the community. No. 2, he or she prioritizes those goals. No. 3, we construct the monthly agenda. We set up committees and assign committee chairs. We are responsible for maintaining focus in the board meetings. We are responsible for initiating public meetings, and we act as board spokespersons and communicators with the community," says Quinn.

The issues may differ occasionally, but running a large building and a small building is essentially the same thing, believes Quinn. Everyone faces the same problems and pitfalls, he says. "I think you might do all these things a little less formally but you do them. I don't think it changes if you're 50 units or 500. I think everyone of these things are something that should be done whether you have large, small or in-between. There might not be many committees, there might only be one committee," Quinn says, but the responsibility must be delegated and the business of the co-op conducted in a proper manner.

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