Bendix Anderson in Board Operations on July 4, 2019
For the first time since the building opened in 1967, the board at the 71-unit Village House Condominium will be dominated by women – a noteworthy wrinkle for New York City co-op and condo boards, which have traditionally been a man’s world.
“It is a whole different feel,” says Carol Butler, who has served as the Village House board president for more than 10 years. For much of that time, she has been the sole woman on the five-member board. As a result of the recent annual meeting, that equation has been flipped, with four women serving alongside a single male. “I’m excited about having four women on the board,” Butler adds. “It’s new blood. The hope is that they’ll bring constructive ideas, and they’ll be interested. And hopefully they’ll be more involved in the day-to-day operations.”
Recruiting fresh blood for the board at Village House, as at many co-ops and condos, has never been easy. “People are not clambering to serve on the board,” says Butler. “I’ve reached out to shareholders before, but nobody stepped up because they didn’t want to challenge the stable existing board. But two longtime board members had become less available than in the past, and they reluctantly agreed to step down if we were able to recruit new board volunteers.”
Two shareholders stepped up: Tina Sacchi and Kathryn Ruiz. In addition to their pending baptisms as board members, which will take place at the first meeting of the new board on September 5, the women share something else in common: both are mothers of young children.
This could be good news for Butler, a psychotherapist who has an office on the first floor of the 14-story brick building in Greenwich Village. “Every morning I turn on the plant lights and usually talk to the building’s superintendent,” she says of her daily routine, which keeps her knitted to the building and its ongoing projects, such as the recently completed repairs to keep the facade in compliance with New York City’s Local Law 11. “I love this stuff,” says Butler. However, perhaps because she works in the building, she often finds herself taking on an outsize share of running projects or renovations. “I’ve been doing a lot of the heavy lifting,” she says. “Maybe I haven’t been delegating enough.”
That could change. “Tina and Kathy are also in and out of the building all day and meeting people as they pass in the halls,” Butler says. Now that the facade has been repaired and the scaffolding and sidewalk shed are coming down, the condo board will have to replace landscaping that withered during the construction project. “It would be nice if Tina and Kathy have time in their schedules to participate in this landscaping project,” says Butler.
Sacchi and Ruiz both had successful careers before they became full-time parents. “It’s just a different perspective that will be brought to the board,” says Sacchi, who worked in television journalism as a field producer for broadcasters such as CBS and MTV. “We come from different backgrounds, but sometimes we speak the same language...maybe with a little bit more sensitivity.”
Ruiz worked in finance for firms such as Bernstein Private Wealth Management. She’s looking forward to putting her financial expertise to work on the condo board – in addition to getting to know her neighbors and her building a little better. “I’m really excited about it,” she says. “It’s easy in New York not to know your neighbors.”
The longtime property manager is also excited by the makeup of the new board. “Women seem to be able to keep more issues in focus at one time,” says Jeff Lamb, a principal at J. & C. Lamb Management. “Carol Butler can jockey several issues at once – and she’s diplomatic. I’m optimistic these new board members will bring in new inspirations and new ideas.”
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