What It’s Like to Be a Board President Co-op Board Veteran Barbara Gambino Talks About Her Role


One should not be fooled: serving on a co-op board is a commitment. It's a voluntary position in which those who are elected must cater to both the interests of their constituents and the property in which they themselves reside. Sleepwalk through the role, and not only are you likely to get voted out, but you're depriving a more proactive representative of the chance to improve quality of life and property value for everybody. It is truly a job for the dedicated.

And few are more dedicated than Barbara Gambino, who is the board president of a co-op on East 49th Street in Manhattan. Not only has Gambino served on the board for nearly 15 years, but she actually grew up in the building, and with the exception of about five years after college, has lived there for over 60 years.

The Cooperator spoke with Gambino about the ups and downs of committing to an association and its board for the long-haul.

The Cooperator: So how long have you been the co-op board president?


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  • As President of a Coop with 333 Apt's, I appreciated her comments, and for myself, I look upon our Building, as my Home, and I'm always looking for ways to improve our building whether it's upgrading the Common Area's to using LED bulbs which has effectively lowered our operating costs to having Cogeneration installed in our Building which in the last 10 years has reduced our operating costs by over a million dollars. Our Building has a staff of 14 people who have all been with us for many years and are considered as "part of the family," our Supt., has been with the building before it went Coop in 1985, and most of the the remaining staff, have all been here for many years and are part of the family. Our Management Company, Grogan & Associates, Inc., have also been with our Building before it went Coop, and the President, is a Shareholder of the Building, which gives him an added interest in making sure things that need to get done do so.
  • I’ve been the president of a 156 unit Coop in Queens for 18 years and a board member for many years before that. It’s a tough unpaid job. We have very few cooperating cooperators! We haven’t had a quorum at our annual meeting for years. I run the coop like I ran my business and so far so good! I have kept us financially sound and well kept. It’s a lot of work but a bit easier since I have retired. I have a great managing agent who takes a load off of me so I can handle the finances and major work that needs to be done.
  • I too have been a Board President for 12 years in a 144 unit coop. I took the position because the old board was scoring brownie points with the cooperators by raiding the reserve fund to supplement operating costs. By the time I stepped in we were 180 days behind and only had $40,000 in Reserve! That's all turned around over the years. But here's my questions to other Presidents who are reading this; How do you deal with cooperators who take up a position simply to challenge the Board and to find out "everything you or the Board have been stealin" and once they find out that everything is good just sit on the Board for years thereafter? Like most of you, we too do not pull quorum at the annual meeting because we run a great building so it seems impossible to get these deadbeats off the Board. Comments?