Why I Serve: An Interview with Tom Coale, CA Board Member

After living in Columbia for three years, Tom Coale decided to step up and become a leader in his community by joining the Columbia Association (CA) Board of Directors. After serving on the Board for almost a year, he says he’s happy with the experience he’s had so far.

“I’ve enjoyed the experience of working on things like Symphony Woods and the budget and seeing how the budget process works,” says Coale. “I’ve also enjoyed the opportunity to work with the other board members and get their perspective on why they vote the way they vote and why they’re interested in the things that they’re interested in. So overall it has been very positive.”

In an interview with Coale in the June 2011 edition of CA Monthly, Coale said he hoped to enhance the atmosphere in Columbia by strengthening the sense of community. During this past year, one of the ways that Coale has engaged the Columbia community is by writing on his blog Hocorising.com. Coale uses his blog to write about CA Board initiatives, as well as other news about Howard County.

“Many people have no idea what the CA Board does and so I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to share with others what I’m doing, how I see the issues, invite alternative views and also solicit input on things such as the budget, and the Aquatics Master Plan, the things that people really care a lot about,” Coale says.

“For my first year, I know that the other board members were hesitant about my writing about my board experience,” says Coale, “but I would like to think that at the end of the day it was a positive thing and that the other board members appreciated the opportunity to have what we were doing broadcast to more people, even if it was through the eyes of one board member.”

Serving on the CA Board requires dedication and a time commitment. Coale says one thing he wasn’t expecting was the amount of meetings there are for board members. In addition to the bimonthly board meetings, there are also meetings to discuss the various board initiatives, such as the Aquatics Master Plan and Connecting Columbia. “Certainly it’s not a requirement, nor are there any requirements as to what board members must attend, but I feel compelled, in order to be as educated as possible on the various items before the board to attend those meetings, which has probably gone beyond my expectations in terms of time commitment,” says Coale.

For anyone out there interested in running for a spot on the CA Board of Directors, or one of the Columbia village boards, Coale suggests just going for it. “I would say absolutely do it,” Coale says. “It takes a lot of work, but there is certainly a lot that you can show for your work. To an extent, there are many downsides of being on the board, but there’s nothing that can’t be changed by additional board members coming in and looking to bring their own idea of what the board should be doing to the Columbia Association.”

Visit ColumbiaAssociation.org for more information on the CA Board of Directors and the Columbia village boards.


Volunteers Wanted for the CA Wildlife and Habitat Advisory Committee!

Are you interested in waterfowl and wildlife in Columbia? If so, think about joining the Columbia Association (CA) Wildlife and Habitat Advisory Committee. The committee informs and advises CA staff through the Open Space Committee of community issues and opportunities as they relate to wildlife and their habitats withing the Columbia open space system; examines and assesses related concerns that may need CA’s advocacy; serves as a resource for the Open Space Committee and CA staff; reviews CA policies and programs related to the committee’s mission; and assists the Open Space Committee and CA staff in disseminating information about the wildlife and their habitats in the Columbia open space system.

Community members who are interested in joining the committee are invited to attend the next meeting, which will be held on Monday, March 12 at 7:30pm at Slayton House (10400 Cross Fox Lane in Columbia). Additional meetings will be held on April 9, June 11, September 10 and October 8. For more information, call Sue Neri at 410-381-7140.


— Written by Aria White


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