When President John F. Kennedy said, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other,” he probably wasn’t thinking about community associations or other multi-family buildings.
But his words are remarkably well-suited to board members and a host of housing industry professionals today. Volunteer board members, committee members, property managers, attorneys, and myriad others involved with condominium and apartment buildings are increasingly aware that operating a successful community requires specialized knowledge.
Running a productive board meeting, hiring qualified vendors, maintaining building systems — every aspect of multi-family operations can be a challenge for those who haven’t taken the time or made the effort to learn the industry ropes.
Fortunately for all involved — volunteers and professionals alike — that education doesn’t have to be attained on a “trial by fire” basis. Regional, national and international organizations have been formed to make that knowledge accessible and to recognize individuals and companies that have acquired it. When volunteers and professionals involved in community operations make the effort to gain that knowledge — and the professionals earn credentials demonstrating their knowledge — everyone benefits from this “alignment of the stars.”
Where do you turn to find that specialized knowledge?
The Community Associations Institute (CAI), which has scores of chapters in the United States, offers courses on everything from an introductory course on community operations to top-level professional designations. Classes on a variety of topics are regularly presented in cities and towns around the country. Can’t travel to attend a seminar? That’s no excuse today; CAI’s Board Leadership Development Workshop is available online! The workshop (at caaonline.org) teaches community volunteers how to communicate with association residents, hire qualified managers and service providers, develop enforceable rules, interpret governing documents and more.
With more than 35,000 members — 80 percent of whom are board members, vollunteers and managers — CAI is recognized world-wide for its professional development programs and the professional credentials it confers on those who progress up its education ladder. Managers can earn individual credentials, leading up to the PCAM (Professional Community Association Manager) designation, while management firms can earn recognition as an Accredited Association Management Company.
The Institute for Real Estate Management (IREM) also confers credentials for property managers, including Certified Property Manager (CPM), Accredited Residential Manager (ARM), and, for companies, Accredited Management Organization (AMO). Properties that are proud of their “green” efforts can now gain recognition with IREM’s new “Certified Sustainable Property” designation.
But education programs and credentials are not limited to community management. CAI also has programs for association lawyers, insurance and risk specialists, reserve specialists and educated business partners. Building boards, committees and managers have found that turning to these industry “stars” is a firm step on the road to successful operations.
CAI, of course, isn’t alone in the housing education arena. Educated leaders can also be found among the ranks of professionals and vendors involved with a variety of other organizations. The National Apartment Association (NAA) provides education programs — and resultant certifications — for leasing agents, maintenance teams, suppliers and managers. The organization (found at naahq.org) serves 160 affiliates, over 73,000 members and the nine million apartment units they operate globally.
Locally, NAA programs and professional designations are offered through the Pennsylvania Apartment Association-East (paa-east.org). The NAA credentials, including CAMT (Certificate for Apartment Maintenance Technicians), NALP (National Apartment Leasing Professional), CAM (Certified Apartment Manager), CAS (Certified Apartment Supplier), CAPS (Certified Apartment Portfolio Supervisor) help boards and property owners to find industry “stars” when they need employees, contractors or vendors. And some of the brightest stars in the housing sky can be seen in September, when PAA-East presents its “Best in Apartment Living” Awards!
When your property needs a guiding light for any aspect of operations, don’t take a walk through the Yellow Pages — just look to the stars.