Columbia Association’s Board of Directors approved CA’s Strategic Plan in June 2019. The plan has a five-year horizon and is used to help guide the organization’s operational and resource allocation decision-making to ensure that actions and investments are in alignment with CA’s vision, mission, values, goals and objectives.

Each year, CA completes a progress report that provides on overview and highlights what CA has accomplished as it works to achieve its vision. CA’s new vision, approved in 2019, is to create and supports solutions to meet the evolving needs of a dynamic and inclusive community.

Columbia Association Strategic Plan (effective June 2019)


The 2019 CA strategic plan set forth in this Executive Summary is the culmination of a seven-month planning process and covers the years 2019 through 2024.

This Executive Summary provides the complete mission, vision, goals and objectives along with a summary of the strategic planning process. The complete strategic planning report includes detailed information gathered, outcomes from each phase, and considerations for future planning efforts. That report is available from CA upon request. This summary is organized into the following sections:

  1. CA mission, vision, goals, and objectives.
  2. Strategic planning process.


Mission: Engage our diverse community, cultivate a unique sense of place and enhance quality of life.

Vision: CA creates and supports solutions to meet the evolving needs of a dynamic and inclusive community.

Strategic Priority: Identity

Goal: Significantly improve CA’s visibility as a valued partner in enriching the quality of life and community cohesion/connections.

Objective 1: Develop a baseline assessment of CA’s awareness, understanding, and perception in the community by the end of (FY) Q1 2020. Use the assessment to identify shortfalls and opportunities.

Objective 2: Increase CA’s awareness and value perception by 15%.

Objective 3: Create true partnership with village boards (i.e. form work groups, host town halls).

Objective 4: Drive community cohesion via events sponsored by CA.

Objective 5: Improve communications from CA to community and partners.

Objective 6: Monitor CA’s reputation and recognition in the community by surveying the community every 2-3 years and developing a subsequent plan for optimization and improvement. The first survey should be conducted toward the end of FY2020 to assess communication effectiveness following baseline.

Strategic Priority: Resource Stewardship

Goal: Create systems to align physical assets and financial resources to meet CA’s strategic goals and mission.

Objective 1: Create a system to assess the physical condition of CA’s assets by 4.30.20.

Objective 2: Create a system to evaluate community impact of CA’s assets.

Objective 3: Create a scorecard combining assessments and evaluation to prioritize capital and budget resources/investments by 8.31.21.

  • Action Step A: Identify opportunities to provide greater access for all residents.
  • Action Step B: Develop assessment tool to prioritize community needs and opportunities against available budget resources.
  • Action Step C: Develop a process to identify assets that should be acquired, modified, or consolidated.

Objective 4: Create a 5-10 year capital investment plan based on the outputs above by 4.30.22.

Objective 5: Determine quality of revenue (consistency, dependability) needed to support programs and services by 4.30.23.

    • Action Step A: Create a zero-based budget review (that includes a competitive analysis to other similar organizations).
    • Action Step B: Develop 10-year forecast.

Strategic Priority: Environmental Sustainability

Goal: Advance Columbia as a leader in environmental sustainability in Maryland.

Objective 1: Maintain and advance CA’s climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts.

  • Action Step A: CA will advocate for and support access to multi-modal public transportation in the community.
  • Action Step B: CA will advance best procurement and waste management practices that increase source reduction, increase the use of recycled content materials, increase recycling/composting rates, and reduce single use plastic consumption.
  • Action Step C: CA will continue efforts to reduce energy consumption and support clean energy through its existing solar farm and procurement of renewable energy credits.
  • Action Step D: CA will work to reduce fossil fuel consumption associated with its vehicle and equipment fleet and encourage similar practices in its contractors.
  • Action Step E: CA will conduct a Columbia-wide climate change vulnerability assessment to identify key climate risks affecting its operations, property, and public safety.

Objective 2: Advance sustainable land use practices and improve the quality of streams, ponds, and lakes.

  • Action Step A: CA will refine its use of best practices for fertilization, weed, and pest management so as to maintain aesthetically pleasing open space while reducing the potential harmful impacts to humans and wildlife.
  • Action Step B: CA will enhance its open space management practices to support native species of grasses, increase rainwater retention, support pollinators, and increase carbon sequestration.
  • Action Step C: CA will advocate for advanced storm water management practices in developments in and around Columbia.
  • Action Step D: CA will reduce stream erosion and flooding by deploying advanced stream stabilization techniques and reducing upstream runoff volume by promoting best management practices for impervious surface area.

Objective 3: Educate and connect citizens to CA’s open spaces and best practices for sustainability.

  • Action Step A: CA will partner with villages to develop opportunities for resident engagement and education.
  • Action Step B: CA will develop engagement programs and materials that help advance community sustainability and connection to open space.
  • Action Step C: CA will work to more effectively promote its activities and performance associated with improving the environmental sustainability of its operations and land management practices.

Strategic Priority: Leadership Development

Goal: Increase participation among a demographically diverse community to serve in leadership roles on CA advisory committees, community groups, and the CA Board.

Objective 1: Outreach to cultural and diverse community.

  • Action Step: Annually conduct at least one new outreach initiative.

Strategic Priority: Advocacy

Goal: Advocate on issues that are key to Columbia’s values and are key to our future as a unique, diverse, master planned community.

Objective 1: Conduct an annual evaluation of CA priorities that considers all stakeholders.

Objective 2: Coordinate advocacy efforts with Village Boards where appropriate.

Objective 3: Monitor issues in the following categories for advocacy:

  • New town zoning
  • Environment
  • Land use
  • Alternative housing
  • Smart development


The process incorporated six phases organized around the following objectives:

  • Developing a concise plan that details a clear set of priorities, responsibilities, and metrics where appropriate.
  • Engaging stakeholders from throughout the Columbia area.
  • Engaging the Board and senior staff members in thoughtful dialog regarding the strategic issues, goals, and priorities throughout the process.
  • Adopting a strategic plan via Board vote.

Phase 1 – Context

This phase served as preparation by reviewing key organizational documents such as By-laws, Charter, Deed, policies, progress reports, financial activities, and Board meeting reports and minutes from the past two years.

Phase 2 – Gather and explore information from a wide range of perspectives.

Data was gathered through multiple channels:

  • Surveys.
  • In-person meetings with 52 stakeholders, Board members, and staff.
  • Published information on regional demographic and economic trends and national trends regarding master planned communities.

This information was compiled into a Phase 2 Report and used by Board and staff in identifying key strategy issues, determining goals, and setting a future strategic direction for CA for the next five years and beyond.

Phase 3 – Assess information and identify strategic issues for the next five years and beyond.

An all-day session was held on March 9, 2019 with Board and senior leadership team to frame strategic issues the Columbia Association faces in the next five years and beyond.

Phase 4 – Engage stakeholders for feedback on strategic issues identified.

CA published initial drafts of goals, objectives, mission & vision on its website and requested input. Board members also sought out opinions from residents in their villages.

Phase 5 – Outline Strategic Plan with CA Board.

A second all-day session was held on March 30, 2019 to consider input from stakeholders and prioritize strategic priorities for the next five years. A draft strategic plan document was prepared for Board and staff and distributed to stakeholder group representatives for review and input.

Phase 6 – Complete final Strategic Plan document for Board approval.

A final draft of mission, vision, goals & objectives was drafted, reviewed, and approved by the Board.