Russell chosen to lead board

8-year member wants a more `respectful' Columbia Association

May 04, 2007|By Sandy Alexander | Sandy Alexander,sun reporter

Barbara Russell, who is serving her eighth one-year term on the Columbia Association board of directors as the representative of Oakland Mills, has been elected by the board to serve as its chairwoman.

Philip W. Kirsch, who represents Wilde Lake, was elected vice chairman at a meeting Wednesday night.

The leadership of the 10-member board, which directs the Columbia Association in its management of recreational services, open space and other amenities for nearly 100,000 residents, is subject to a vote every year.

Board members usually announce their interest in the chair position after elections are held but before the new board term begins May 1, Russell said. This year, she was elected on a 5-4 secret ballot with one abstention. Kirsch was elected 6-4.

The first board meeting under Russell's leadership will be May 24.

"What I would like to see happen next year is a better organizational culture," Russell said. "I would like to see us be more respectful of each other ... to listen to each other and respect each other's opinions. And I want us to be the same way with the residents. I want us to be open."

She said she did not want to discuss any events that might have shaped those priorities but that those issues of communication and openness are important to her.

The board will have a retreat today and tomorrow to discuss its strategic plans for the coming year and to help orient Evan Coren of Kings Contrivance and Michael Cornell of River Hill, two new board members elected last month.

At the Wednesday meeting, Russell also appointed the board members to three main committees, based on their expressed preferences. New policies that went into effect last year require all but one previous committee member move to a new committee and prohibit committee chairs from serving more than one year.

This year, Kirsch, Coren and Gail Broida of Town Center will serve on the Planning and Strategy Committee; Henry F. Dagenais of Long Reach, Pearl Atkinson-Stewart of Owen Brown and Miles Coffman of Hickory Ridge will serve on the External Relations Committee; and Cornell, Tom O'Connor of Dorsey's Search and Cynthia Coyle of Harper's Choice will serve on the Performance Oversight Committee.

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