New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Business of Management 2021

HABITAT

BOARD OPERATIONS

HOW CO-OP/CONDO BOARDS OPERATE

Mix'n'match Board Members' Skills: You've Got Experts All Around You!

Bill Morris in Board Operations on July 12, 2012

Silver Towers, The Strand, Beech Haven

Larry Weinstein. Photo by Jennifer Wu
Larry Weinstein
July 12, 2012

"On our board we have me, plus a financial guy and an insurance guy," Weinstein says. "We just did a $1 million Local Law 11 project, and I supervised it because I've got some 40 years of experience in construction. I found areas where work didn't have to be done, and I added some things and took many items out of the original contract."

Skill Hunt

The nine-member board at The Strand, a 311-unit high-rise condominium in Manhattan, comprises a virtual smorgasbord of such professionals, including a web designer, a theater producer, a video director, an accountant, and a human resources executive. Bill Ragals, a resident of the building since 1995 and president of the board since 2004, is a lawyer who specializes in energy issues.

"Our boards have always been composed of concerned, sophisticated people with various expertises," says attorney Bill Ragals, president of the board since 2004. "When we redid our hallways in 2006 and our lobby in 2010, the people with design expertise got involved, and as an attorney I was involved in the business end."

A Mongrel

The ideal board, in Ragals's view, is a bit of a mongrel. "I would want a mix of skills," he says. "Legal, business, and financial skills are important, but so are mechanical skills [and an] understanding of how construction works. Having an engineer on the board would probably be more helpful than having a lawyer like me who's interested in construction." With a laugh he adds: "Maybe both of us together!"

It helps if you know how to listen, too.

"In a co-op you have to be able to work with different personalities and listen, [and] sometimes compromise," says Jeannette Reed, vice president of the co-op board at the Beech Haven, a 120-unit co-op in Jamaica Hills, Queens, and a retired New York public schools as a teacher, principal and superintendent. "For instance, we were getting ready to replace our two elevators, and I learned we have a person in the building who is very knowledgeable about elevators. The part I played was gaining information from him, then bringing in the best people to do the work. I had experience dealing with a lot of outside businesses when I was a principal and superintendent. My background has helped me work with people and move projects like this forward."

 

Photo by Jennifer Wu

 

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