Most board members are volunteers—some may have experience with certain aspects of running a building, but most come to the job relatively green, armed only with a sense of responsibility and a desire to serve their building community. So where do boards turn for help when a question comes up, or a situation arises that they don’t feel equipped to answer on their own?
A Legacy of Helping
Stepping into a role on the board can be a very daunting experience. In addition to having to learn a particular role like president, secretary, or treasurer, there are problems that may arise—problems that will require some action by the board. But if board members don’t know how to be board members, how are they supposed to deal with the crazy old coot on the first floor who keeps suing the building, for example?
Luckily, there are those who have gone before. The pioneers in cooperative living had to duke it out for themselves, but they have left behind some very helpful organizations. Many of the problems that boards face are common to all boards, and knowing how other people have handled similar situations can smooth the way to resolution.
Two excellent resources exist for the express purpose of board concerns: the Federation of New York Housing Cooperatives & Condominiums (FNYHC) and the Council of New York Cooperatives & Condominiums (CNYC). Both organizations provide training, seminars, phone assistance, and advocacy.
“We are a not-for-profit organization—our services are free to our members,” says Al Pennisi, president of the Federation and a partner with the Queens-based law firm of Pennisi Daniels Norelli, LLP. “We run educational seminars on environmental issues, how to be a board member, training for presidents, treasurers—the whole board, really—plus dispute resolution, and so forth.”