The 2024 CAI Annual Conference and Exposition: Community NOW wrapped up last week with a slate of conference education sessions designed to motivate and inform on topics ranging from technology management to ethics challenges, governance blind spots, and more.

The record-breaking three-day event was the premier destination for community association board managers, managers, and business partners from around the world to come together, share ideas in conference education sessions, and network. Here are some highlights from the last day of conference education sessions. 

 

Education Session: Managing Technology: Understanding Risks and Evolving with Them 

Community associations need to be aware of cybersecurity threats and proactively develop plans and strategies to protect and manage homeowners data, industry professionals were told by cybersecurity expert Kristoph Gustovich. He recommends boards create transparent security policies and controls that ensure confidentiality, maintain integrity, and prevent data breaches while complying with regulations. 

Because most cybersecurity threats are generated by uneducated employees, Gustovich recommends communities create a culture that offers awareness and training. He says boards and managers can use a variety of available tools and tactics to implement stronger cybersecurity, such as:  

  • Open or contract for a security operations center that will monitor, detect, and respond to threats. 
  • Implement an incident management system to identify, assess, and resolve issues.  
  • Establish a third-party risk management structure to regularly review and monitor efforts.
  • Utilize consultants, questionnaires, and commercial platforms to support efforts.  

 

Education Session: Outrunning Burnout, Chasing Happiness: Learning to Be More Satisfied and More Productive 

David Graf, an attorney with Moeller Graf in Englewood, Colo., told participants that professional fatigue is more of a larger “happiness problem.” He urged attendees to take the time to acknowledge and reflect on personal thoughts and feelings and make needed changes when feeling overwhelmed at work.  

Graf knows a little bit about attitude adjustment after suffering a debilitating stroke. Graf encourages executives to assess their feelings and to seek therapy, training, or coaching to address them. Building awareness, prioritizing self-care, and learning new skills can help managers and board members more effectively tackle personal and professional challenges, says Graf, who also works as a life coach.   

 

Education Session: Ethics Challenges in Today’s World 

Steven Shuey, PCAM, retired community association consultant in California, taught attendees about enforcing a code of ethics. Each designation that community association professionals can earn comes with its own professional code of ethics, he says. When an individual or firm obtains one of these designations, they are required to sign a document acknowledging they understand the code of ethics. Community association boards can rely on the knowledge, expertise, and professional ethics of those who have earned them. The standards and expectations are high.

For a code of ethics to have value, there needs to be a method of enforcement, Shuey explained. If anyone feels a CAI-designated professional has violated the code of ethics, a complaint may be submitted for review. Formal complaints are carefully reviewed, scrutinized, and considered according to a specific enforcement plan. Although some complaints are dismissed because they do not meet the violation criteria, those complaints that do are reviewed by a panel of qualified professionals who dig deep into the issue and come up with appropriate sanctions. Penalties can range from a letter of warning to revocation of the designation and cancellation of CAI membership.

 

Education Session: Governance Blind Spots: Uncovering Mistakes You Didn’t Know You Were Making 

During a lively, interactive session, Cynthia Jones, an attorney with Sellers, Ayers, Dortch & Lyons in Charlotte, N.C., and Adam Beaudoin, an attorney with Ward and Smith in Wilmington, N.C., summarized a bevy of areas where boards and managers need to be careful to avoid potential pitfalls. Both Jones and Beaudoin are fellows in CAI’s College of Community Association Lawyers.  

Here are some tips they recommend to steer clear of common governance issues:  

  • Understand the hierarchy of governing documents.  
  • Set up and use a separate email address specifically for association business.  
  • Don’t record board meetings without establishing a policy on recording retention.  
  • Don’t make decisions via email without unanimous consent.  
  • Focus board minutes on what was done rather than what was said.  
  • Include start and finish times on meeting agendas.  
  • Don’t have members approve annual meeting minutes.  
  • Don’t allow members to attend meetings where sensitive information is discussed.  
  • Make sure boards understand insurance coverage. 
  • Make sure to notify insurance carriers in a timely manner when legal action is threatened. 
  • Don’t share names and contact information of delinquent owners. 
  • Don’t fine for violations that aren’t violations.  
  • Make sure the association attorney reviews contracts before they are executed. 
  • Keep track of vendor contracts and automatic renewals.  
  • Consider reserves and reserve studies. 
  • Ensure adequate recordkeeping documentation.  
  • Don’t share attorney correspondence with members. 

 

>>Review annual conference coverage with our day one introduction, a recap of day two conference education sessions, and our keynote presentation summary.

Lead photo caption: The “Community Life is Good” wall gets filled up during the 2024 CAI Annual Conference and Exposition at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Brian Adams Photography.

2024 CAI Annual Conference and Exposition Highlights

CAI hosted a record-breaking number of attendees last week at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Community association volunteers, managers, and business partners gathered for inspiring conference education sessions, networking with colleagues and potential clients, a motivational keynote, and a fabulous “Roaring ’20s” party on Friday night. Brian Adams Photography.

  • 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.

  • Joni Lucas

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