Board Resource Guide: Orienting New Board Members You've Been Elected...Now What?

Getting elected to a building's board can be a big job in and of itself—but the truth is that winning a seat is only the beginning. After making the decision to campaign for a seat, and then winning it, new board members can find themselves failing to understand exactly what they've gotten themselves into.

"Most people who come onto a board have no clue as to what they're getting involved in, what their job responsibilities are or [what their] function or performance or contribution is going to be," says Irwin H. Cohen, president of A. Michael Tyler Realty Corp. in Manhattan.

The biggest sacrifice a board member makes is his or her time. Not only by attending meetings, but also by staying informed of the building's business and addressing the needs and concerns of owners and shareholders.

Not that this should scare anyone off. Someone who thinks life in their building could be improved probably should run, and boards often benefit when new members join them. But before making a decision that will affect their lives, as well as those of their fellow residents, new board members need to take a few things into consideration.

The Board Structure

Board sizes vary from building to building. Cohen says most boards he works with consist of three to seven members. He adds that some larger buildings (those with 2,500 units and up) can have up to 15 members.


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  • I have a situation. I am a shareholder in a co-op and I was working abroad for 4 months. While I was gone, the superintendent gave my keys to a stranger to live in my apartment without my permission or knowledge. My apartment was wrecked and items stolen.This was a major violation of trust and a total invasion of my privacy. I informed the president of the board immediately and he spoke with the super who wrote an apology email to me, admitting what he'd done but the board decided to not get involved and on coming home I have had to inform the other shareholders of the internal threat and seek legal advise through an attorney. The superintendent is still employed here and the board do not want to fire him because he does private work for them and is friends with the president. Has anyone else been through a nightmare like this?...
  • Sue, the super had no right stay in your unit. I would get a lawyer and if the board will not support you, then I would look into getting this members removed. If the super didnt perform work of these board members he would of been out the door in a heartbeat, but he does and that is a conflict of interest. Board Member of about 4 years.
  • what are the rules about a board requesting or mandating a board member withdraw her/his name from the slate for re-election?
  • I have a question. In the event of a board member leaving in mid-term, can the board appoint someone to replace him?
  • Janet. The answer to that question depends on what it says in your By-Laws. But it is not uncommon for the By-Laws to state that if a Board member resigns mid-term the Board has the right to appoint someone to fill the seat for the remainder of their term. Check your by-laws to see what they say.
  • what if any role does a Capital Needs Study play in the process of privatizing a Mitchell-Lama co-op?
  • Is a co-op board required to publish the tiles/roles they have chosen for each board member if a shareholder makes written request for that information?