Handling Challenges with Grace
Meet Paula Kennedy - East Valley Office Community Manager
For a community manager, enforcing rules and making decisions that may not be popular is a necessary part of the job. A manager who can do that with diplomacy, courtesy and warmth truly is a star.
Handling Challenges with Grace
Paula Kennedy doesn’t think she’s a hero. “I’ve been a community manager for years and can’t think of one heroic action,” she says modestly. However, her Board members and residents would strongly disagree. Paula’s heroics come in the form of the quiet types of things that don’t get any fanfare—yet are vitally important to her community.
Like many communities, Crossroads was faced with all the problems associated with the economic downturn. Foreclosures, bankruptcies, out-of-state homeowners, and renters that didn't know or understand their responsibilities have all complicated the management of The Crossroads Community. Board members say Paula has handled all of those challenges with impressive grace.
Board members admit they gave Paula some daunting tasks. First, they directed her to provide their association with a more strict interpretation of the CC&R's than they had used in the past. They had significant problems with delinquencies on dues, fines, etc. and also had a number of violations that had not been dealt with previously before Paula arrived. Board members now rave about how smoothly she resolved these problems and many others with a positive attitude. She is always willing to put in extra effort for the good of her community.
Paula’s favorite part of being a community manager is something many other may dread: financial matters. She views it as the chance to solve a complicated puzzle. “I love to make the yearly budget, plan where the money is needed and to make it stretch as far as possible to provide for the community’s needs as well as their wants. “
Paula enjoys the challenge of finding ways to make what can seem like impossible goals a reality. “I ask the Boards each year prior to creating the yearly budget to provide a “wish list” of items that they would like to accomplish in the community the following year. Items such as specific landscape additions or renovations, adding or replacing playground equipment or simply adding money to the reserve fund. As these expenses are beyond the normal yearly budget, we then brainstorm to figure out which wish list item(s) could best fit into the budget and make a plan to include the project.”
Her behind-the-scenes heroics may not be obvious to residents, but the entire community benefits from Paula’s efforts. Sometimes, achieving those goals require steps that may not necessarily be popular. “During the recent economic downturn most Boards were concerned about collecting money to manage the association and were reluctant to add special projects to the budget. We then worked on the most effective way to collect outstanding homeowner debt by hiring an attorney that charged the association a flat fee for collections, while the Board also worked with distressed homeowners by agreeing to payment plans.”
Due in large part to her dedication and hard work, Paula’s communities have made it through the challenging times with positive results.
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