A Look at Columbia’s Future: An Interview With CA President Phil Nelson

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When Columbia Association (CA) President Phil Nelson came to Columbia in 2007, he was looking for a challenge. And he found one. “I think I wanted to try something different. I had been in city management for more than 30 years, and Columbia Association at that time offered a really good challenge,” Nelson said. “It gave me a way to use my background in dealing with all kinds of different situations.”

These days, it’s the coming change in Columbia that poses a challenge and opportunity for Nelson at CA. “Columbia is going through some real change. There’s going to be so many demographic changes, so many economic changes,” Nelson said. Given the data being reported by the U.S. Census Bureau that one in five Marylanders will be age 65 and older within the next 30 years, and more than 80 percent of households will be childless, Nelson recognizes the need for CA to adapt. “We have to offer services and programs that are going to fit five different generations of Columbians,” he said.

Nelson said that Columbia Association will begin focusing more on interaction with the community to prepare for these upcoming changes, and noted that CA is more interested than ever in hearing directly from residents about what they want to see in the future of Columbia. “We’re asking you through Inspire Columbia, through Excite Columbia, and soon through the new website,” Nelson said. “We can no longer go through a period of saying, ‘Here’s a program; you’ll love it!’ we’re going to have to start asking people what they want and what’s going to make them feel like we’re adding value to their lives and their property.”

In addition to becoming more interactive, Nelson said he also wants CA to start focusing more on communicating with residents to make sure they know about all of the services that CA offers them. “It’s important for us to continue letting people know what they get for their assessment fee.”

-Article by Aria White Connor

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