We are all slaves to the commercial age, where a hokey jingle or catchy slogan accompanied by mesmerizing visuals are indelibly embedded in the deep recesses of our minds, forever indoctrinating us into involuntarily humming a tune or repeating a phrase like a drunk Soviet cockatoo.
Among the thousands of ads trapped deep in my subconscious (Alka Seltzer song anyone?) is the old Virginia Slims slogan, "You've come a long way, baby." This slick ad campaign played perfectly to the Women's Lib movement sweeping the nation, effectively associating women smoking a scrawny stick of tobacco with freedom. (Feminists for lung cancer unite!). But never mind the message's ridiculousness. It was an hip, bold, empowering slogan and I've always liked it.
When I look at this current Board and where we were just a handful of years ago, my brain makes a bee-line straight to that Virginia Slims catchphrase - we have indeed come a long, long way.
At the start of her Board presidency in 2011, I can just imagine Ann Boon donning some cool mod digs whilst wielding - with great effect - her Virginia Slim. But at the beginning of her term, it was more like brandishing a pair of scissors and an investment banker's brain to overhaul a rather insular and red-taped HOA into a more fiscally responsible, user-friendly and dynamic one. It was like reading a Marvel comic, watching Judge Judy and admiring a Lichtenstein all at once -- Boom!
When Ann successfully ran again with Kim Eggleston for the Board in 2014, the momentum for change continued. To name just a few of the financial improvements at the HOA: There was finally a balance sheet; Full-time CPAs were hired; A correction of $1.6 million of misclassified assets was made; IRS filings were made public to all HOA members. Infrastructure improvements included new Technology and Village Revitalization Committees and a revived intensive search for better cell phone and Internet coverage. Modernizing HOA software included vital areas of accounting, data back-up and security; Segregated systems like the Golf Club and the Association were synchronized as well. Community outreach was vastly improved, with an updated and expanded web site, a new RSFA Director of Communications, now-open CDRC meetings, a more-open Board candidate nominating process, and, what I think is a crowning achievement -- a whopping upswing in voter registration from 50% to 80%. The latter is really a testament to how the Board wanted to redefine the culture of the Association into a place that was inclusive and encouraged community participation.
This new Board is proving that our optimism for continued evolution is warranted. I have already sung the Board's praises for its hard work on and commitment to upgrading our Internet and increasing community engagement. But they've also made significant improvements in other areas in relatively short order: Swatting away divisive special interests, hiring an impressive and very experienced new HOA Manager, as well as a new Golf Club GM, enhancing HOA and golf/tennis club governing documents, achieving greater adherence to Davis-Sterling requirements, and improving the use of and making upgrades to the Osuna and Arroyo facilities. And the list continues...
We were saddened to hear of Mike Licosati's decision to resign from the Board last week. As most know, Mike joined the Board in 2015 and became an integral part of its progressive cultural change over the years. He and Kim Eggleston were the only two members who served on both of Ann's Boards. While running his own financial business and being a father to three school-age children, Mike still spent countless (and oft-times thankless) hours co-chairing the Tech Committee and being a member of the Governing Committee. He was particularly passionate about bringing improved Broadband to our historic (but wifi prehistoric) town. Even better, Mike was the type of guy you'd like to grab a beer with. Or, perhaps in keeping with my Virginia Slims era theme, more like share a Mad Men chain-smoking three-martini lunch with. Shame really that nowadays we don't smoke, don't really eat, and the only thing we're knocking back is the soupy primordial dregs of a kale plant for, like, ten bucks an ounce. I was clearly born in the wrong era.
Mike is smart and driven, but also just an all around nice guy with a gorgeous and vivacious wife and charming children to boot. He will be very missed. That said, in his resignation, Mike himself said that he was confident in this Board's dedication to keeping the positive momentum swiftly chugging along, and he'll be rooting from the sidelines.
One of the major focuses of Ann's Boards and this current one is to not only increase community participation, but also broaden the diversity of the Board, HOA committees and Association volunteer work in general.I must admit, while I am extremely grateful to everyone who raises their hand and commits to working long, hard, unpaid hours for the betterment of the community, it would be nice to see more members from the relatively younger demographic represented. The more points of views and backgrounds represented, the better the Association will be to effectively meet the needs of each and every person that lives here. The RSFA is currently looking for Mike's replacement, so if you're interested pick up and fill out a candidate form by September 20. Here's your chance to make a difference. We've come a long way babe, but we can always use another brave man...or woman!