Day three of the 2023 CAI Annual Conference and Exposition: Community NOW introduced attendees to a variety of education sessions to motivate and prepare on topics ranging from electric vehicle charging strategies and charting a course post-Surfside to covering your assets 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 three.

Education session: Charge Forward: Implementing an EV Charging Strategy for Your Community 

Kevin Kostiner, head of business development and partnerships for electric vehicle (EV) charging solutions provider EverCharge, led a session to educate community leaders on implementing EV charging in their communities. Some of the most important factors to consider when developing a strategy, according to Kostiner, are:  

  • Electrical capacity – How much energy are your homes already using? How much are they capable of? Is your system capable of taking on EV charging as is, or will any updates need to be made to your technology? 
  • Is your parking deeded or assigned? Based on the answer to this question, your implementation strategy can vary greatly. If the parking is deeded, an association cannot legally deny the right of a unit owner to install the charger in their own parking spot. However, they can set rules and regulations for the installation in order to make sure it’s fair at all. If the parking is assigned, the HOA has the right to determine where chargers are implemented, how they are financed and maintained, and how residents are able to use them.  
  • Have a qualified, expert provider evaluate your property to understand its capacity and limitations. You do need an organized plan to implement an EV charging strategy, but you don’t need to overcomplicate it.   

 “Keep it simple,” Kostiner says. “You don’t need to spend months asking questions and creating documents. Just invite two or three of the leading players in the space to have a call and consultation with you. Make sure to ask them specific questions about their expertise and specifications for your community, and make sure that they’re able to scale with you.” 


Education Session: Covering Your Assets  

Communities need to have a process driven approach that links investments and reserves,” says Nico March with the March Group in San Diego. “Planning is the first step and then wrap your process around it,” March says. Doing this will “optimize overall investment strategies and maintain financial stability and peace of mind” for associations.  

Developing a written investment policy statement and implementing a process-driven approach to financial planning “will increase returns and satisfaction,” March says. March emphasized the importance of planning and developing a written investment policy with clear goals and objectives so that everyone knows “what the association has and why.” 

March says linking reserve studies to financial planning is critical for community associations. Linking them will help them to maximize liquidity and generate higher rates of return, he says. By reviewing reserves and making a financial plan, March recommends boards work closely with homeowners and be transparent about finances. “You can’t just hit them over the head with special assessments. Think outside of the box and be compassionate.”  


Education Session: Mindful Managing: Work Life Balance  

Professional competence, clear communication and managing energy levels are simple and effective ways to improving work/life balance, according to Lori Baker-Schena with Baker Schena Communications in Olympia, Wash., and Paul Karl Mengert, CMCA, PCAM, with Association Management Group, Inc., in Greensboro, N.C. 

Along with prioritizing customer service, managing expectations and being organized and curious, Baker-Schena and Mengert suggested managers turn inward and focus on renewing their personal energy to maintain wellness. The art of achieving work/life balance (involves) energy, not time,” Baker-Schena said. In fact, “Self-care is how you re-energize.” Baker-Schena and Mengert suggested seven steps to improving work/life balance: 

  • Learn to let go of things that no longer serve you. 
  • Establish and manage boundaries. 
  • Mindfully prioritize your energy. 
  • Learn to be present wherever you are. 
  • Release guilt. 
  • Understand you can only control yourself. 
  • Live in the solution, not the problem.  


General Session: The Future of Happiness  

In a world filled with abundant digital distractions, it’s vital to create a “different social script” that prioritizes attention, connection and boundaries that will help everyone flourish personally and professionally in a complicated modern world.  

Amy Blankson, author of The Future of Happiness, offered community management professionals and volunteers strategies to boost digital wellness. Her work involves teaching professionals how to leverage technological advances, apps and gadgets that boost productivity while cultivating happiness and well-being in the digital era. 

Here are her strategies: 

  • Take your digital pulse. Be mindful of needs and discomfort and remember you are in control.  
  • Set intentions for technology.  
  • Establish boundaries surrounding technology. 
  • Set a tone for behavior and expectations. 


Education Session: Charting a Course Post-Surfside 

Legislative changes and policy recommendations made in the wake of the Surfside, Fla., condominium tragedy will have long-lasting and far-reaching impacts for the insurance and community management industry, observers predict.  

During a session at the 2023 CAI conference, Christa Brady, AMS, PCAM, with USI Insurance Services in Falls Church, Va., says insurance carriers will be taking a harder look at communities and insist communities maintain, repair and upgrade buildings. Underwriting criteria will be strict, premiums will continue to go up and some communities may lose their coverage. She says the Surfside tragedy has caused carriers to focus on the financial health of communities and building valuations when writing policies for communities.  

Brady says recent events have created “a perfect storm” in the insurance world that’s making getting coverage expensive and difficult. She says the tight market has caused a “mass exodus” from the traditional insurance marketplace with communities scrambling for coverage. Along with the 2021 partial collapse of Champlain Towers South, high inflation, supply chain issues, rising costs, labor shortages and significant losses due to natural disasters nationwide have caused the situation, she says.  

Chad Toms, an attorney with Whiteford, Taylor & Preston in Wilmington, Del., believes current and pending legislation on building safety represents “the first wave” and expects additional legislation to be introduced and passed in the future. He predicts additional legislation on structural integrity inspections, more inspection recommendations for balconies, building facades and decks on the state level. He also thinks modifications on reserve funding and loan programs to help homeowners pay for repairs are on the horizon.  

Jon Bach, CMCA, AMS, with Community Management Corp., in Chantilly, Va., sees an emphasis on preventive maintenance and maintenance manuals as a result of Surfside. Bach adds communities’ operating budgets will be affected due to the additional costs associated with inspections and reserve studies.  


Education Session: Everlasting Talent Pool: How to Layer Employees to Prevent a Shortfall 

As the industry faces a talent shortage, it is vital that community association leaders adapt their talent acquisition strategies to layer talent and create long-term success. In Everlasting Talent Pool, Katie Anderson, CMCA, AMS, PCAM, Erik Robinson, CMCA, AMS, and Marlena Weisbrot, CMCA, share their thoughts and expertise on how to attract the incoming generation and retain current employees. 

The presenters’ top tips for attracting incoming talent from the next generation are: 

  • Create employee value propositions that work in tandem with your company goals. The better care you take of your employees, the better they will care for their jobs. Build your employee value propositions around the values you’d like to be reflected in your company. It is important to foster a culture of belonging, flexibility, and growth, and to reflect these goals in your recruitment process. 

The presenters’ top tips for maintaining existing talent are: 

  • Upward mobility: Provide your employees with opportunities for internal growth, so they are motivated to stay and climb within the company ladder. 
  • Train and educate employees on succession preparation through hands-on training and shadowing, rather than abstract planning. 
  • Prioritize work-life balance, lowering chance of burnout and increasing healthy lines of communication. 

The presenters also recommend creating or restructuring your organizational chart, both to layer new recruits and upward growth.

>>Review Annual Conference coverage with our day one introduction and a recap of day two education sessions.

  • Hazel Siff

    Hazel Siff is associate editor at CAI. She graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara's communication department and worked as a student journalist at both UC Santa Barbara and Santa Monica College. Hazel has worked in print media, on multiple podcasts, and on a YouTube show. Originally from Western Massachusetts, she has spent the last several years living in Southern California.

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  • Joni Lucas

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