CAI Celebrates Milestone Anniversary

Jan 17, 2013

From Backyard Planning Sessions to 40 Years of Growth and Success

In 1964, the Urban Land Institute (ULI) published Technical Bulletin No. 50, a document that called for the creation of a national organization to provide education and act as a clearinghouse of information and best practices for the growing community association housing market.

The principal author was Byron Hanke, one of CAI’s eventual founders along with Lincoln Cummings, then president of Whetstone Homes Corp. and vice president of Montgomery Village Foundation in Maryland; Dave Rhame, a developer and chair of the National Association of Housing Cooperatives; and David Stahl, former public official and ULI executive vice president.  Cummings and Rhame would eventually lead the fledging organization.


But there was a lot of work to be done before leaders would be selected. It took nine years and an abundance of discussion, fortitude and planning—including backyard strategy sessions at Hanke’s Calvert, Md., home. But good ideas persist, and this idea became Community Associations Institute.

The official date of birth was Sept. 20, 1973—40 years ago this year.  The Pennsylvania & Delaware Valley Chapter was created in 1974, under the name Mid-Atlantic Chapter.

There were fewer than 30,000 U.S. common-interest communities in 1973. Today, more than 64 million Americans live in an estimated 325,000 community associations, condominium communities and cooperatives. The first issue of CAI News, in 1974, was distributed to 200 members.   Today, CAI’s flagship national magazine, Common Ground, is distributed to more than 32,000 members—in both print and digital formats.

CAI’s growth was slow but steady—at first. Membership surpassed 1,000 by the end of 1975. It took eight more years to reach the 5,000 mark. The organization we know today began to take shape during the late 1970s and 1980s.

  • 1975: The first national conference takes place in New Orleans.
  • 1977: Association Management, the first Guide for Association Practitioners, is published.
  • 1978: CAI welcomes its 10th chapter.

  • 1980: The Professional Management Development Program is launched.

  • 1982: The Professional Community Association Manager (PCAM) designation is introduced.

  • 1984: The first issue of Common Ground is published.

  • 1985: CAI welcomes its 30th chapter.

  • 1986: California members form the first of CAI’s 35 legislative action committees.

  • 1988: Membership tops 10,000.

CAI continued to expand in the 1990s, creating, the popular ABCs course (now “Essentials”), Community Associations Press (now CAI Press) and the College of Community Association Lawyers. Other milestones included publishing the first issue of Community Management (now Community Manager), topping 50 chapters and reaching 15,000 members in 1996.

CAI has been equally ambitious in the new century, expanding its website, offering webinars, developing Rights and Responsibilities for Better Communities, expanding its public policy initiatives, creating the Educated Business Partner distinction and offering its first online course, The Essentials of Community Association Management. Meanwhile, membership surpassed 25,000 in 2005 and topped 30,000—in 60 chapters—in 2010.

Like every organization, CAI had to adapt to meet the challenges of a growing and changing industry.  New and enhanced member benefits were developed. Governance overhauls were debated and implemented. The membership structure itself was reengineered, mostly recently in 2005 to encourage individual memberships for community managers and homeowner volunteer leaders.

“Our growth and achievements would have been impossible without the contributions of member leaders,” says Tom Skiba, CAE, CAI’s chief executive officer since 2002. “Sustained growth and success for an organization like CAI requires skilled, dedicated and selfless member volunteers. National and chapter board and committee members, our education faculty, legislative action committee members, authors, event speakers—they are the unsung heroes. They’ve made our accomplishments possible for 40 years.”

Jerry Levin, CAI’s president in the early 1990s said it best, “Without the total cooperation of leadership, chapters and individual members, there would be no CAI today.”

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