New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Insider Guide




Co-op Board President Barry Klitsberg: "I pay attention to detail."

Quality and Ruskin Apartments, 10525 67th Avenue, Queens

Q&A Board President Barry Klitsberg
March 13, 2014

Have you always wanted to serve on a cooperative board?

After the first couple of years here, I thought that it might be a smart idea. I had some suggestions, and the existing board had a vacancy. So they asked me to sit on the board.

Did anything in your professional experience prepare you for this work?

My professional experience is with the federal government, at the Department of Health and Human Services. We deal with programs for seniors. We fund them so the states or local governments can provide services. We make sure that the states and local governments are in compliance with the Older Americans Act. We provide assistance to states with their policy issues. We monitor their performance. The positive side of that, as far as the co-op is concerned, is that I am familiar with "people work" and how to negotiate my way through the mounds of paper[work] we have to deal with.

What are your strengths as a board member?

I am very persistent. I pay attention to detail.

A number of years ago, we needed to purchase new boilers. We have 12 buildings; we needed 12 boilers. Our building is managed by Argo, and they also sit on the board as the sponsor. There is another Argo co-op in the neighborhood that has eight buildings, and they also were in a similar situation. So, we combined our purchase with theirs, and we did a purchase for 20 boilers. We were able to save a bit of money by doing a larger purchase.

As a board member, you have to care about the people, while simultaneously making hard choices for the corporation. How do you handle it?

I talk to people. I explain that whenever I do something, it's not because of a whim. I always have a reason for what I do, and it's usually the safety or the infrastructure of the buildings or the grounds. Even if they don't agree, at least they understand where you're coming from. So once I do that, they tend to buy into [the] project.

Were you in any leadership role as a child?

No. I was an average kid. I just wanted to play ball and look at girls.

What are some of the major challenges you have had?

Sometimes getting things done is time-consuming. It takes a long time to finish projects, or even to get them started — to go through all the bids from the vendors and the specifications. Sometimes I don't have the patience for all that. So that's one of the things that drives me because I want these things done yesterday.

How do you keep going when it gets frustrating?

[laughing] I yell at people on the board, or mostly the property manager. I don't yell at the board, really; I yell at the property manager. He knows when I am calling that something is up, or something is not being done the way I expected.


Photo by Jennifer Wu. Click to enlarge

For more, see our Site Map or join our Archive >>

Ask the Experts

learn more

Learn all the basics of NYC co-op and condo management, with straight talk from heavy hitters in the field of co-op or condo apartments

Professionals in some of the key fields of co-op and condo board governance and building management answer common questions in their areas of expertise

Source Guide

see the guide

Looking for a vendor?