That's how it has worked at 720-730 Fort Washington Avenue in the Hudson Heights area of Manhattan, says board president George Karpodinis (see video below), who has been on the board for nine years and has served as president for seven-and-a-half. The committees for the two-building co-op focus on subjects ranging from research to maintenance to the gym.
Looking ahead to the day when he'll leave the co-op board presidency at 720-730 Fort Washington Avenue, George Karpodinis discusses ways for outgoing presidents to identify and groom a worthy successor to ensure they're leaving the building in good hands.
"Committees are a really good way for someone you think might be a good board member – especially if they're not ready to run now – to get a taste of what it's like," says Karpodinis. "The other side of the coin is you get to see how they interact with people."
As Karpodinis thinks about stepping down himself in the next year or two, he is looking for a replacement who has "intelligence, integrity, and commitment to the co-op," and also someone who can communicate well and handle criticism.
An intermediate step from committees to the board, says Racht, can be an appointment as an assistant officer, such as an assistant secretary or assistant treasurer. Most co-ops, she says, appoint corporate counsel or managing agents as assistant secretaries. Non-director shareholders can also fill those posts, although they can't vote. "This is a way to give people responsibility and see how they deal with it, to groom a successor," she says.
Once a new board member is installed, the president can make sure that person shoulders some significant responsibility. "Obviously, a president who truly doesn't want to be president for life needs to involve other board members in the job of running the building," says CNYC's Rothman.
Schein, of 51 West 81st Street, recommends long-term planning and keeping good records. His boards "tried to write memos and plans about our thought process[es], and not just have an institutional memory," he says. He drafted a 10-year plan for the co-op, involved the board in editing it, and distributed the edited version to shareholders. In his law practice, he has observed that problems come when presidents store information only in their own heads.
Levi (right), the longtime Brooklyn president, gives the same advice. "Do reach out to other board members to delegate some responsibility," she says. "I did over the years cultivate other board members. For example, I have a treasurer in place who reviews incoming invoices. I'll know about it, but I don't have to do it myself. I've also cultivated the admissions committee."
And when she steps down, she doesn't have to disappear. "Nothing says a board president has to groom a successor and then run away," says Rothman. "The former president can and probably should stay on as a board member and maybe take on one of the more difficult committees."
Also, says Picaso, it may help to remember that the building is paying professionals to help run the building. "The managing agent, the accountant, the attorney: all of those are there as part of the team."
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