Contributed by Jennifer Miller

CAI has thrived for more than 50 years thanks to the dedication of countless volunteers and can point to many current and former women leaders who have made tremendous impacts. As we celebrate Women’s History Month, meet two women in community association law who are shaping the path ahead for CAI and the community association housing model.


Alexis Firehawk, a shareholder at Carpenter, Hazlewood, Delgado & Bolen in Tempe, Ariz., and a fellow in CAI’s College of Community Association Lawyers, prioritizes the integration of mindfulness practice in her professional life.

“Meditation has been my secret to find equanimity in being a lawyer,” explains Firehawk, who has had a consistent mindfulness practice for about five years and is trained in teaching meditation. “There are so many statistics about how difficult it is to be a lawyer due to job stress. Those same stressors exist in my clients and the community managers that I work with who are pulled in a million directions.”

For many, professional and personal stress have felt especially overwhelming since the COVID-19 pandemic, but Firehawk, who is of Filipino descent, the daughter of an immigrant from Manila, and the first in her family to graduate college, points out that these difficult years have helped her recognize the significance of her values. “CAI has really blossomed for me as having values that align with mine in the last couple years, in terms of looking at and respecting what makes up a community.” Since 2020, Firehawk has devoted focus to what she describes as “the two main values in my personal and professional life: wellness and DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion).

Taking a challenging conversation and making it about community is right up Firehawk’s alley. “I take my work really seriously, but I don’t take myself too seriously,” she says. “My firm lets me practice in my personality, and they care about giving me room to be authentic. Giving myself room to focus on these other issues that I care about, like DEI and wellness, lets me come full circle.”

Alexis Firehawk
Kate Bushey

Kate Bushey, a partner at Kaman & Cusimano in Columbus, Ohio, and a CCAL fellow, is balancing a full plate of work, being a mother to three children, volunteer service, and adventure, and making it look easy. Much like midlife itself, the mid-career years can be stressful ones for many professionals. But if you ask Bushey how she’s managing after 16 years of practicing community association law, she’ll tell you she feels reinvigorated and excited.

“My involvement with CAI, in the last few years especially, has been invaluable and has completely changed my career,” says Bushey. Her volunteer resume includes the the CAI Business Partners Council, CAI Government and Public Affairs Committee, the Community Association Managers International Certification Board of Commissioners, and CAMICB’s Certified Manager of Community Association Professional Conduct Enforcement Committee.

“Being on these national boards opened up something to me that no one in my firm had done before, and it’s educated me about what it takes for a manager to be a certified community association manager,” she says. “It’s helped me see another side of things that I wouldn’t be exposed to just practicing law.”

Bushey feels like she’s found the personal and professional sweet spot as she continues to look up to more experienced attorneys—“especially the increasing number of female attorneys leading the way”—but also sees more colleagues coming to her for advice.

An adventurer at heart, when she isn’t attending youth sports for her three children, the family is traveling the world. “I’ve taken my kids all over — Italy, Greece, the Caribbean,” says Bushey.

Jennifer Miller is a freelance writer based in the Washington, D.C., area. Profiles above adapted from articles in 2023 about emerging leaders in both CAI’s Common Ground magazine and Community Manager newsletter.

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