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New Columbia Association president leads through financial COVID challenges, promotes community engagement

Newly hired Columbia Association CEO and President Lakey Boyd said she aims to use her position to promote a positive environment for those who live and work in Columbia.

Moving to Columbia from Alabama, where she served as the principal consultant at Re:Posit Strategies, a company she founded to help communities and organizations develop and implement strategies to achieve economic competitiveness, she said she wanted to play a role in shaping the future of Columbia.

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Taking on the role at a time when the association has faced financial challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic, Boyd said she is working to help the community recover.

“We’ve been hard hit by the pandemic, and we are still constrained in terms of resources,” Boyd said. “We definitely have to still be very fiscally responsible in making a lot of those financial decisions as we see how people move out of the pandemic and what the impact on our business model will be.”

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Boyd began a four-year term May 1, replacing Milton Matthews who left after two terms as the CA’s leader. The CA is both a homeowners association that serves more than 100,000 residents and a membership organization with almost 60,000 members.

As CEO and president, Boyd said it is her responsibility to improve the overall quality of life in the community.

Having previously worked in city planning, local government and nonprofit organizations, she said she wants to add a new perspective to the association.

Lakey Boyd took over as Columbia Association president and CEO in May.
Lakey Boyd took over as Columbia Association president and CEO in May. (Photo courtesy of the Columbia Association)

“I hope to bring a fresh set of eyes that helps people see a lot of the good that is already here,” Boyd said. “There is so much positive and so many community assets and having a fresh set of eyes to see those and make those connections can be a positive thing.”

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The association’s budget was nearly 30% lower in fiscal 2021 than its pre-pandemic projection, which caused the closure of all 23 of its pools last summer and the cancellation of its 17 summer camps. Most of the revenue shortfall stemmed from a decrease in sports and fitness memberships and community services due to the pandemic.

Earlier this year, the association’s board approved its fiscal 2022 budget, which included keeping eight of its pools closed this summer, operating some summer camps and the permanent closure of the Haven on the Lake wellness center. While the CA is expecting a 14% revenue increase in fiscal 2022, it is still 20% less than what the pre-pandemic fiscal 2021 budget was.

Monica McMellon-Ajayi, director of human resources at the CA, described Boyd as “compassionate” and “direct” and committed to improving the association’s company culture.

“[Boyd] is very focused on making sure that employees see their role as playing a role in helping the community,” McMellon-Ajayi said. “She really expects us to connect those dots as employees that our work is to be connected to helping the community and engaging with the community.”

Dennis Mattey, director of open space and facilities services at the CA, said Boyd is committed to encouraging residents to connect with the community.

“In one of my first meetings with Lakey, she walked around and met and engaged with team members and as she was leaving she walked past a team member and stopped to chat with him,” Mattey said. “That is incredibly important to see in team members, and she’s the same way with residents as well. She’s completely engaging.”

Despite the challenges of the past year, Boyd said she remains hopeful looking forward.

“I am very encouraged by the incredible hard work that I already see being done by CA staff,” Boyd said. “[They] have a real heart for service, and I think that matters a lot in this kind of organization.”

Baltimore Sun Media reporter Jacob Calvin Meyer contributed to this article.

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