For board members, the time spent serving their association and fellow residents can be among the most strenuous yet rewarding periods in their lives. For years, they make decisions that affect their community in the present and may continue to impact them years down the road. It’s a powerful position to hold, one that requires them to acquire a significant depth of knowledge about the inner workings of their association, amassing an institutional memory that can be difficult to replace.
That knowledge and that experience are just two of the reasons why former board members can be so valuable to the community in which they still live, and why it's often in the best interest of the association to try and keep those former board members active and involved, if not necessarily on the board in the fullest sense.
For many former board members, the matter of whether or not to stay involved in their HOA's governance boils down to the seemingly mundane question of how they feel. “Mostly because they get burned out,” says Denise Lindsey, vice president of Access Property Management in Edison, “especially if there is no appreciation shown for them volunteering their time.”
And if they’ve just recently left the board, they may still be dealing with the after-effects of decisions they helped make. “There might be finger-pointing along the lines of, ‘Why are we having to borrow money to put on a roof now?’ or, ‘How come we have to pay this assessment?’” says Williamsen. Depending on the tone and tenor of things when they left, a retired or resigned board member may be in no mood to continue working in any capacity for the association.
Recognize the Service
Issues of exasperation and/or burnout are why, if a board member has served well, it’s in the best interest of the association to recognize that service and help ease that person’s transition into “civilian life.” “It’s good to keep in touch with them,” says Debra H. Lewin, an author of numerous books on community association governance, including Volunteers: How Community Associations Thrive. “Give them some type of recognition or acknowledgment. It’s a nice gesture.” And it reminds them that the time they gave was valuable and will not be forgotten.