An estimated 50 million Americans live one of the 249,000 homeowners or condominium associations, cooperatives, or planned development communities spread across the United States—and some 1.25 million of those people serve on their association's board of directors.
It's the job of these association boards to lay out their community's covenants, conditions and restrictions for all homeowners in their development. Individual associations need guidance and education in order to achieve their goals, run their organization properly, and protect the rights of their members. To help provide this guidance, the Community Associations Institute (CAI) was founded in 1973 as a non-profit alliance serving all stakeholders in community associations. Today, CAI includes 55 chapters across the nation.
The New Jersey chapter of CAI—or CAI-NJ—was formed in 1978 and is the second largest U.S. chapter, with over 1,200 members. "We are a group that represents the condominium, townhome and cooperative industries, and the providers that serve those industries such as accountants, attorneys, and property managers," says Curt Macysyn, executive vice president of CAI-NJ. "We have educational programs, legislation advocacy and networking opportunities."
Also at the helm of CAI-NJ is a three-person paid staff to help Macsysn with the group's day-to-day operations. The group's 15-member board of directors—which includes five executive committee members: the president, president-elect, vice president, secretary and treasurer—meets monthly, and holds an annual retreat to discuss committee goals. There are additional committees as well, including networking, education, conference and expo, and editorial.
According to Macysyn, "The networking programs give vendors an opportunity to network with the decision makers throughout the state. The education committee has the sole responsibility of creating programs of interest to those involved in community associations. That's difficult sometimes, because we represent not only community associations, but also service providers and a number of interests and subinterests. We need to create programs that appeal to all facets of community association living."