New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Business of Management 2021

HABITAT

BOARD OPERATIONS

HOW CO-OP/CONDO BOARDS OPERATE

Board President Paul Morejon: "I like to find a consensus among shareholders"

Harlem, Manhattan

Co-op Board President Paul Morejon
June 11, 2014

Morejon was not the only amateur director. Because the building is new, the board was young but willing to learn. Luckily the managing agent was helpful. “The manager kept reminding me that minutes are not supposed to capture the meeting word for word: they’re about summarizing the discussion and recording the decision, if there is one,” says Morejon, who also produced and distributed an “action list” after each board meeting. This list contains information useful to shareholders, such as the board’s plan to buy patio furniture for the courtyard. It does not include discussions on the budget or personnel discussions. Building financials are revealed at the annual meeting.

Big-Picture Perspective

After a year as secretary, Morejon became president. According to him, “Being president actually fit my personality; it’s what I’m [good] at — looking at the big picture, mapping out strategy and making big decisions. I like to find out the costs, see what the benefit and risks would be, find a consensus among the shareholders and move forward. I can’t really think while I’m writing, so I found detailed note-taking a challenge. We now have an excellent secretary.”

The board is still working through the mundane problems of efficiency, though, “For months," he says, "at the midpoint of a typical two-and-a-half-hour meeting, I found we were at the mercy of hunger pangs. These manifested themselves in behavior: Members became irritable or easily distracted, and sometimes there would be general discord.”

Hunger No Game

The majority of the board works full time, which meant that meetings were being held at what should have been dinner time. The solution, however, was simple.

“During the annual budget planning season, we anticipated the meeting would run over three hours, so we decided to bring in food. After we ate, there was a noticeable difference in our ability to stay focused and collaborate positively (and thankfully not go over three hours),” says Morejon. The lesson there? “Don’t vote on an empty stomach."

The lesson has spread to other board policies as well. Morejon and his board have found a way to turn a potentially awkward situation into a welcome tradition. “Every time a board member is elected, we encourage him or her to join us in an annual social mixer with donated snacks and drinks. Such gatherings helped us learn about each other’s interests and communication styles.” Bon appétit!

 

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Photo by Tom Soter

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