Why I Serve: An Interview with Regina Clay, Wilde Lake Village Board Member

The Wilde Lake Village Board got a bit more awesome when Regina Clay was elected in April of last year. Clay, a Wilde Lake resident and busy single mother of two, joined the board after being inspired to add some diversity and a unique perspective to the community association. The Wilde Lake Village Center is currently considering a redevelopment and as a part of the village board, Clay has had a front-row seat to the updates and developments in the process, in addition to having the change to help regulate architectural guidelines and provide opportunities for residents to connect, engage and learn with one another.

New to the board this year, Clay says so far the experience has been fulfilling. “The Wilde Lake Village Center is in the midst of a redevelopment. Being intimately involved in the process of redeveloping the center into a vibrant community icon has been the best part of being on the board for me so far,” Clay says.

In addition to volunteering on the Wilde Lake Village Board, Clay keeps busy by helping with other local community organizations including Jack and Jill, Inc., Fostering Futures, Girl Scouts of Central Maryland, the Thurgood Marshall Democratic Club of Howard County and the NAACP of Howard County. Although she doesn’t serve in a leadership capacity for each organization, she devotes her time and remains involved in each one. She is also an ordained minister and she works on voter registration in the county.

Clay says she almost didn’t run for the Wilde Lake board because of her other commitments in the community. “I fit it in the best I can. I have a great support system in my parents and my family in terms of helping out with my children, so that’s how I try to fit it all in,” she says.

“I decided to run for the board because of an article I read in the Baltimore Sun that talked about diversity on the CA Board and the Columbia village boards,” Clay says. “I was very moved and thought, “instead of talking about it, I need to be about it,” and I decided to run. My children and their future in Howard County also inspired me to run for a seat on the board.”

Not everyone has what it takes to be an effective community leader. According to Clay, leaders need to be transparent, have the ability to think outside the box and have the ability to reach people who wouldn’t normally be associated with the village community associations. “I use Facebook and video messages and other techniques to reach people in the community who are sometimes unreachable,” Clay says. “A leader also has to be willing to listen. Communications isn’t just talking, it’s also listening.”

It’s important for Columbia residents to be involved in the village community association by attending board meetings and staying informed about topics the boards are discussing. “Everyone’s voice is important and everyone’s voice needs to be heard, and that’s why it’s important for everyone to be involved so we can get their different perspectives on important issues,” Clay says.

For anyone who’s interested in serving the community by running for a leadership position on a village board or the CA Board of Directors, Clay suggests attending some board meetings and listening to some of the relevant issues. She also says it’s helpful to talk to other people in the community in which you’re thinking about running to see what they think about the different issues. Elections for the boards are held in April each year for open positions (review the article below for submission deadlines). Visit ColumbiaAssociation.org for more information on the Columbia villages and the CA Boards of Directors.

— Written by Aria White

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