Day two of the 2023 CAI Annual Conference and Exposition: Community NOW introduced attendees to the first set of conference education sessions to inspire and inform on topics ranging from building maintenance and collecting assessments to conflict and more. 

The three-day conference is the premier destination for community association board managers, managers, and business partners from around the world to come together, share ideas, and network. Here are some highlights from day two. 

Education session: It’s Not 2008 Anymore: Collecting Assessments in a Modern World 

“It all starts with a budget,” says Mitch Drimmer with Alexa Technologies in Miami. “If you have a thought-out budget, it is unlikely to result in special assessments.”

Here are some things not to do when homeowners become delinquent in their assessments, according to Drimmer.  


  • Post a list of delinquent owners.
  • Shame homeowners.
  • Turn off the water or cable.
  • Prevent homeowners from entering/exiting the community.
  • Verbally confront them.

 “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should,” Drimmer says. “You can inconvenience them but don’t hurt them.” 


  • Send a courtesy note.
  • Pass a board resolution regarding delinquencies.
  • Set thresholds for collections.
  • Offer payment plans.
  • Send notices of delinquencies.
  • Send statements breaking down charges.
  • Send final warnings and regulations.


Education session: The Middle Ground: Resolving Conflict in Communities 

Community associations have become unhealthy microcosms of a divided nation, say Jessica Towles-Gottschalk, CMCA, AMS, PCAM, and Kelly G. Richardson, a partner with Richardson | Ober law firm in Pasadena, Calif.

Richardson, a CAI past president and a fellow in CAI’s College of Community Association Lawyers (CCAL), and Towles, a manager with Sterling Ranch Community Authority Board in Littleton, Colo., and a CAI past president, say it’s time to recognize the ruptures and bring neighbors back together again. They suggest community associations: 

Refocus. Remind owners of the common bond and the value of their community.  

Unite. Remind owners that they choose to live in the association and that a disunited association benefits much less. 

Communicate. Associations cannot communicate enough to their members. In this age of unofficial community Facebook pages, Nextdoor, and mass group emails, it is critical that members receive updates from the association. 

Find some wins. Focus on successes because success builds cohesion. 


Education session: Building Maintenance: How to Reduce Repair Costs and Ensure Safety  

A regularly applied maintenance plan and program combined with a properly prepared and funded reserve study can lead to safe, desirable, financially secure community associations, say Mitchell Frumkin, PE, RS, of Kipcon in North Brunswick, N.J., Gary A. Porter, RS, of Facilities Advisors International in North Las Vegas, Nev., and David Rauch of ProTec Building Services in San Diego. 

Without maintenance, your community will begin a process of degradation until each building and common area ultimately deteriorates and eventually becomes uninhabitable. The key to fighting this process of building and common area degradation is to apply maintenance in a thoughtful and planned manner which would result in a safe, healthy, fully functioning community where property values are maintained or even increased year to year. The planned application of maintenance through an ongoing maintenance program is the best way for a community association board to achieve its mandate to maintain, protect, and enhance their community. 

Frumkin, Porter, and Rauch helped author Community Association Maintenance, a new Best Practices Report published by the Foundation for Community Association Research.  


Education session: Grit and Resilience: Sharing Perspectives with Women in Community Associations 

Delores Ferguson, CMCA, AMS, PCAM, with CCMC in Scottsdale, Ariz., and Alexis Firehawk, an attorney with Carpenter, Hazlewood, Delgado & Bolen in Tempe, Ariz., advise their female peers, who make up a majority of the community management industry, to proudly embrace their stories, leverage their strengths, and lean on mentors to succeed professionally. 

Ferguson says it’s important for women in community management to not give away their dignity despite societal pressures, stereotypes, and prejudice.  

Both Ferguson and Firehawk emphasized the importance of mentorship for women in the field. They recommend women look for depth and quality in these connections to help them learn, grow, and advance in their careers.    

Additionally, women must embrace traditionally female traits such as courtesy, kindness, emotional awareness, and empathy in the workplace, says Firehawk. These attributes can be advantageous.  

“Don’t be afraid to put yourself first,” Ferguson says.  


Keynote Speaker: The Courage to Go Together: Three Questions to Change How You Work, Live, and Lead with Shola Richards 

During the opening general session of the 2023 conference, motivational speaker Shola Richards introduced CAI conference attendees to an African concept that successfully combines compassion and connectedness for the benefit of workplaces and communities. Ubuntu encompasses basic concepts that can create healthy workplaces, Richards says, and involves asking three simple questions: “Is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary?

“Kindness is the one thing needed to create healthy workplaces,” Richards says. “Incivility leads to unhealthy workplaces.” This includes showing kindness to oneself as well as others, he says.  

“It’s frustrating when adults don’t know the power of their words and don’t care,” Richards says. “Bad behavior is the unskilled expression of unmet needs.”  

“Be kind to yourself so you can be kind to others,” Richards says. Kindness helps professionals “to make the right decisions.”

>>Revisit highlights from the first day of conference and look for a recap of Friday’s sessions soon. 

  • Daniel Brannigan

    Daniel Brannigan is CAI's Director of Publishing and Managing Editor of Common Ground™ magazine. He has been editor of CAI's flagship publication since 2010 and previously edited CAI's newsletters Community Manager, Minutes, and Law Reporter. Daniel has helped guide Common Ground to awards for feature article design and single-topic issue from Association Media & Publishing's EXCEL Awards. Community Manager picked up six awards for general excellence and newswriting under Daniel's guidance from 2007-2010. A former reporter, Daniel is a graduate of Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife, daughter, pug, and cat.

  • Joni Lucas

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