The PASS Board recently approved an updated set of bylaws that provide improved representation to our members around the world. As part of this process, we solicited feedback from our members for 30 days. During that time we received three pieces of feedback.
The first comment reads:
Although the bylaws discuss an individual director representing a region – what are the rules around who can represent a region? Must one live in the region, or work in the region? Especially when you get into Europe, there will probably need to be very clear rules about that, as well as what happens when someone moves or changes employment.
The Board will define any regions prior to the elections through the published election procedures. We expect that the regions will be quite large. For example, the bylaws define the US and Canada as the first region. Based on the discussion at our last Board meeting, I expect the second region defined will be Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA). Ideally, we would find people that both lived and worked in the region. We’re going to do the best we can at defining what being “in” a region means so that potential candidates have a clear understanding of their particular situation.
The second comment is about electronic votes. It reads:
I have a question regarding this section: Section VI.5.Mail or Electronic Vote. Any action requiring a vote of the Board of Directors may be taken by written, mailed, facsimile, online, or electronic ballot. The action taken by such a vote shall be effective upon the unanimous approval of the members of the Board. Is this saying that every vote must be unanimous? I don't think that's the case, but I think it can be read that way.
The VI.5 only applies to votes conducted over mail or electronically such as email votes. This section is included to comply with Illinois state law.
The last comment discusses our meetings. It reads:
The biggest thing I find interesting is that we never have meetings though they are specified. Only thing I see that a meeting could do would be to remove a board member, but that would take the board calling for the meeting, and it seems to need to be in person. But I generally trust the board, unlike national politics. I expect that the board will work in our best interest and deal honestly. :)
We consider the PASS Summit as the official annual meeting. This is one of the reasons finances and organizational details are presented at Summit. In general, there’s very little that needs to officially happen at the annual meeting.
I’d like to thank our Governance Coordinators at headquarters, the Global Growth Committee, and the PASS Board for their work on these bylaws. Reviewing revision after revision of these documents isn’t the most glamorous part of our volunteer work, but it is necessary to move our organization forward.
On January 9, 2013, the Board of Directors formally proposed an amended set of Bylaws for the PASS organization.
The Bylaw changes address the option for regional representation which will facilitate PASS’ vision to better serve our membership around the world. Allowances for mid-term vacancies to be filled by community vote are also included in these Bylaw amendments.
In keeping with Illinois State Law (the PASS incorporation jurisdiction), members had 30 days to provide feedback and insight on the proposed Bylaw changes. Thank you for the thoughtful feedback via tweets, blog posts, and emails. The PASS Board reviewed and discussed all input presented prior to approving the amended Bylaws.
The motion passed with 13 yes votes, 0 no votes and 1 abstentions. A 2/3 majority is required for such a fundamental governance change.
It’s never too late to familiarize yourself with the PASS Bylaws. They are available on the Governance section of the website for download or reference.
This is an exciting time for PASS now that we have the foundation for formal international representation. The changes to the Bylaws are the first step in ensuring PASS truly reflects the global SQL Server Community—your community.
The 2013 elections are around the corner and we encourage you to get involved.
Cross-posted from Bill Graziano's SQL Server Blog, January 10, 2013
PASS launched a Global Growth Initiative in the Summer of 2011 with the appointment of three international Board advisors. Since then we’ve thought and talked extensively about how we make PASS more relevant to our members outside the US and Canada. We’ve collected much of that discussion in our Global Growth site. You can find vision documents, plans, governance proposals, feedback sites, and transcripts of Twitter chats and town hall meetings. We also address these plans at the Board Q&A during the 2012 Summit.
One of the biggest changes coming out of this process is around how we elect Board members. And that requires a change to the bylaws. We published the proposed bylaw changes as a red-lined document so you can clearly see the changes.
Our goal in these bylaw changes was to address the changes required by the global growth initiatives, conduct a legal review of the document and address other minor issues in the document. There are numerous small wording changes throughout the document. For example, we replaced every reference of “The Corporation” with the word “PASS” so it now reads “PASS is organized…”.
The biggest change in these bylaw changes is how the Board is composed and elected. This discussion starts in section VI.2. This section now says that some elected directors will come from geographic regions. I think this is the best way to make sure we give all of our members a voice in the leadership of the organization. The key parts of this section are:
The remaining Directors (i.e. the non-Officer Directors and non-Vendor Appointed Directors) shall be elected by the voting membership (“Elected Directors”). Elected Directors shall include representatives of defined PASS regions (“Regions”) as set forth below (“Regional Directors”) and at minimum one (1) additional Director-at-Large whose selection is not limited by region. Regional Directors shall include, but are not limited to, two (2) seats for the Region covering Canada and the United States of America.
Additional Regions for the purpose of electing additional Regional Directors and additional Director-at-Large seats for the purpose of expanding the Board shall be defined by a majority vote of the current Board of Directors and must be established prior to the public call for nominations in the general election. Previously defined Regions and seats approved by the Board of Directors shall remain in effect and can only be modified by a 2/3 majority vote by the then current Board of Directors.
Currently PASS has six At-Large Directors elected by the members. These changes allow for a Regional Director position that is elected by the members but must come from a particular region. It also stipulates that there must always be at least one Director-at-Large who can come from any region.
We also understand that PASS is currently a very US-centric organization. Our Summit is held in America, roughly half our chapters are in the US and Canada and most of the Board members over the last ten years have come from America. We wanted to reflect that by making sure that our US and Canadian volunteers would continue to play a significant role by ensuring that two Regional seats are reserved specifically for Canada and the US.
Other than that, the bylaws don’t create any specific regional seats. These rules allow us to create Regional Director seats but don’t require it. We haven’t fully discussed what the criteria will be in order for a region to have a seat designated for it or how many regions there will be. In our discussions we’ve broadly discussed regions for
- United States and Canada
- Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA)
- Australia, New Zealand and Asia (also known as Asia Pacific or APAC)
- Mexico, South America, and Central America (LATAM)
As you can see, our thinking is that there will be a few large regions. I’ve also considered a non-North America region that we can gradually split into the regions above as our membership grows in those areas.
The regions will be defined by a policy document that will be published prior to the elections. I’m hoping that over the next year we can begin to publish more of what we do as Board-approved policy documents.
While the bylaws only require a single non-region specific At-large Director, I would expect we would always have two. That way we can have one in each election. I think it’s important that we always have one seat open that anyone who is eligible to run for the Board can contest. The Board is required to have any regions defined prior to the start of the election process.
Board Elections – Regional Seats
We spent a lot of time discussing how the elections would work for these Regional Director seats. Ultimately we decided that the simplest solution is that every PASS member should vote for every open seat. Section VIII.3 reads:
Candidates who are eligible (i.e. eligible to serve in such capacity subject to the criteria set forth herein or adopted by the Board of Directors) shall be designated to fill open Board seats in the following order of priority on the basis of total votes received: (i) full term Regional Director seats, (ii) full term Director-at-Large seats, (iii) not full term (vacated) Regional Director seats, (iv) not full term (vacated) Director-at-Large seats. For the purposes of clarity, because of eligibility requirements, it is contemplated that the candidates designated to the open Board seats may not receive more votes than certain other candidates who are not selected to the Board.
We debated whether to have multiple ballots or one single ballot. Multiple ballot elections get complicated quickly. Let’s say we have a ballot for US/Canada and one for Region 2. After that we’d need a mechanism to merge those two together and come up with the winner of the at-large seat or have another election for the at-large position.
We think the best way to do this is a single ballot and putting the highest vote getters into the most restrictive seats. Let’s look at an example:
There are seats open for Region 1, Region 2 and at-large. The election results are as follows:
- Candidate A (eligible for Region 1) – 550 votes
- Candidate B (eligible for Region 1) – 525 votes
- Candidate C (eligible for Region 1) – 475 votes
- Candidate D (eligible for Region 2) – 125 votes
- Candidate E (eligible for Region 2) – 75 votes
In this case, Candidate A is the winner for Region 1 and is assigned that seat. Candidate D is the winner for Region 2 and is assigned that seat. The at-large seat is filled by the high remaining vote getter which is Candidate B.
The key point to understand is that we may have a situation where a person with a lower vote total is elected to a regional seat and a person with a higher vote total is excluded. This will be true whether we had multiple ballots or a single ballot.
Board Elections – Vacant Seats
The other change to the election process is for vacant Board seats. The actual changes are sprinkled throughout the document.
Previously we didn’t have a mechanism that allowed for an election of a Board seat that we knew would be vacant in the future. The most common case is when a Board members moves to an Officer role in the middle of their term. One of the key changes is to allow the number of votes members have to match the number of open seats. This allows each voter to express their preference on all open seats. This only applies when we know about the opening prior to the call for nominations. This all means that if there’s a seat will be open at the start of the next Board term, and we know about it prior to the call for nominations, we can include that seat in the elections. Ultimately, the aim is to have PASS members decide who sits on the Board in as many situations as possible.
We discussed the option of changing the bylaws to just take next highest vote-getter in all other cases. I think that’s wrong for the following reasons:
- All voters aren’t able to express an opinion on all candidates. If there are five people running for three seats, you can only vote for three. You have no way to express your preference between #4 and #5.
- Different candidates may have different information about the number of seats available. A person may learn that a Board member plans to resign at the end of the year prior to that information being made public. They may understand that the top four vote getters will end up on the Board while the rest of the members believe there are only three openings. This may affect someone’s decision to run. I don’t think this creates a transparent, fair election.
- Board members may use their knowledge of the election results to decide whether to remain on the Board or not. Admittedly this one is unlikely but I don’t want to create a situation where this accusation can be leveled.
I think the majority of vacancies in the future will be handled through elections. The bylaw section quoted above also indicates that partial term vacancies will be filled after the full term seats are filled.
Section VI.7 on removing directors has always had a clause that allowed members to remove an elected director. We also had a clause that allowed appointed directors to be removed. We added a clause that allows the Board to remove for cause any director with a 2/3 majority vote. The updated text reads:
Any Director may be removed for cause by a 2/3 majority vote of the Board of Directors whenever in its judgment the best interests of PASS would be served thereby.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, the authority of any Director to act as in an official capacity as a Director or Officer of PASS may be suspended by the Board of Directors for cause.
Cause for suspension or removal of a Director shall include but not be limited to failure to meet any Board-approved performance expectations or the presence of a reason for suspension or dismissal as listed in Addendum B of these Bylaws.
The first paragraph is updated and the second and third are unchanged (except cleaning up language). If you scroll down and look at Addendum B of these bylaws you find the following:
Cause for suspension or dismissal of a member of the Board of Directors may include:
- Inability to attend Board meetings on a regular basis.
- Inability or unwillingness to act in a capacity designated by the Board of Directors.
- Failure to fulfill the responsibilities of the office.
- Inability to represent the Region elected to represent
- Failure to act in a manner consistent with PASS's Bylaws and/or policies.
- Misrepresentation of responsibility and/or authority.
- Misrepresentation of PASS.
- Unresolved conflict of interests with Board responsibilities.
- Breach of confidentiality.
The bold line about your inability to represent your region is what we added to the bylaws in this revision. We also added a clause to section VII.3 allowing the Board to remove an officer. That clause is much less restrictive. It doesn’t require cause and only requires a simple majority.
The Board of Directors may remove any Officer whenever in their judgment the best interests of PASS shall be served by such removal.
There are numerous other small changes throughout the document.
Proxy voting. The laws around how members and Board members proxy votes are specific in Illinois law. PASS is an Illinois corporation and is subject to Illinois laws. We changed section IV.5 to come into compliance with those laws. Specifically this says you can only vote through a proxy if you have a written proxy through your authorized attorney.
English language proficiency. As we increase our global footprint we come across more members that aren’t native English speakers. The business of PASS is conducted in English and it’s important that our Board members speak English. If we get big enough to afford translators, we may be able to relax this but right now we need English language skills for effective Board members.
Committees. The language around committees in section IX is old and dated. Our lawyers advised us to clean it up. This section specifically applies to any committees that the Board may form outside of portfolios. We removed the term limits, quorum and vacancies clause. We don’t currently have any committees that this would apply to. The Nominating Committee is covered elsewhere in the bylaws.
Electronic Votes. The change allows the Board to vote via email but the results must be unanimous. This is to conform with Illinois state law.
Immediate Past President. There was no mechanism to fill the IPP role if an outgoing President chose not to participate. We changed section VII.8 to allow the Board to invite any previous President to fill the role by majority vote.
Nominations Committee. We’ve opened the language to allow for the transparent election of the Nominations Committee as outlined by the 2011 Election Review Committee.
Revocation of Charters. The language surrounding the revocation of charters for local groups was flagged by the lawyers. We have allowed for the local user group to make all necessary payment before considering returning of items to PASS if required.
Bylaw notification. We’ve spent countless meetings working on these bylaws with the intent to not open them again any time in the near future. Should the bylaws be opened again, we have included a clause ensuring that the PASS membership is involved. I’m proud that the Board has remained committed to transparency and accountability to members. This clause will require that same level of commitment in the future even when all the current Board members have rolled off.
I think that covers everything. I’d encourage you to look through the red-line document and see the changes. It’s helpful to look at the language that’s being removed and the language that’s being added.
I’m happy to answer any questions here or you can email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As 2012 draws to a close, I’m growing increasingly excited about the start of another year full of opportunities for PASS. With the Board of Directors elections completed and a new Board starting in 2013, it’s time to assign portfolios for the upcoming year. Next year sees the return of an old portfolio and the combining of some existing portfolios. It also brings us both returning Board members and new leaders.
Adam Jorgensen headed up the Summit Program portfolio this year and will return to that position next year, leading the team that selects the amazing educational sessions for the largest SQL Server and BI training and networking event in the world. The Program Committee just completed its work for Seattle and is gearing up for PASS Summit 2013 in Charlotte.
Denise McInerney will return to the Virtual Chapters portfolio next year and will also handle 24 Hours of PASS. There are many similarities between these portfolios as well as cross-portfolio opportunities, so it makes sense to assign them to a single director.
Rob Farley will guide the SQLSaturday portfolio. These events are seeing tremendous growth throughout the world. With our continued focus on serving members around the globe, we expect these free events to reach and positively impact even more members in 2013.
James Rowland-Jones, elected to the Board after serving a 1-year appointment, will continue leading the Global Growth portfolio. We’ve made great strides in the past year getting feedback and laying the groundwork for better supporting the global community. Now it’s time to build on that work and put the next steps into action.
Wendy Pastrick will begin her term on the Board by leading our Chapters portfolio. PASS’s support of local Chapters through Regional Mentors, Community Evangelists, tools, best practices, and more has grown tremendously over the last few years, but there’s still much to do.
Sri Sridharan, also newly elected to the Board, will guide the returning Volunteers portfolio. As we continue to grow PASS’s volunteer pool, it’s important to have a dedicated a team to coordinate volunteer activities across the organization. Although this portfolio has existed in the budget, it hasn’t had anyone assigned to it for several years. We are still defining exactly how the Volunteers portfolio will align with our other portfolios, but by the end of 2013, we expect to see more volunteers, better organized, and with greater recognition for their valuable contributions.
In addition to the PASS Executive Committee – consisting of myself; Executive VP, Finance, Douglas McDowell; VP, Marketing, Thomas LaRock; and Past President Rushabh Mehta – as well as Founding Partner Board members from CA and Microsoft, this is the team that will lead PASS for the upcoming year. Please congratulate them on their portfolio assignments and offer them all the support you can. We’re expecting great things from them.
Our budgets tend to be fairly conservative and we try to budget at break-even or a small profit. After accounting for additional costs we’re roughly estimating a 10% profit for fiscal year 2012. Over the last two weeks the Board approved a number of motions that used some of this windfall to increase our budgets in key areas.
First, anything that we don’t spend will eventually end up in our reserves. Our goal is to spend less than $200,000 of our profit and allow the remaining $300,000+ to flow into reserves. The downside of allocating that money to reserves is that we’ll be taxed on any profit for FY2012. PASS is a not-for-profit but isn’t tax exempt.
In the PASS budget, the vast majority of our revenue comes from the Summit and that’s where we spend most of our money (Our revenue was higher than projected for Summit 2011 hence the profit we’re seeing for fiscal year 2012). It’s always a challenge to carve out meaningful contributions for our community programs. When we do have additional money available one of the first places we look is to our community. We allocated over $100,000 to support chapters, SQL Saturdays, international events and the 24 Hours of PASS.
This breaks down as follows:
- We increased our Chapter portfolio budget by $40,000. I’m expecting Allen to blog in more detail about where he expects that money to go.
- We added $30,000 to support SQL Saturdays. Much of this will go to sponsoring additional SQL Saturday events. This program also has a long shopping list including laptop stickers, DVD giveaways, and table skirts that they’ve been talking about for a long time. We’re hoping they can get to a few of these. I don’t know exactly how Kendal will prioritize this but you should keep an eye on his blog for more details.
- PASS regularly sponsors non-PASS events – especially internationally. The huge growth in international events has depleted our funds in this area. We approved an additional $30,000 to support these events.
- The Board approved $7,200 to support closed captioning to 15 languages for the upcoming 24 Hours of PASS. We have high expectations for this and I’m anxious to see it in action.
We also allocated money to areas that aren’t as publicly visible.
- We try to have three in-person meetings each year in addition to a brief meeting at the Summit. In the final approved budget we removed the third in-person meeting to balance the budget. We added back the $30,000 to support the third meeting.
- We allocated another $20,000 for Board travel. This is an area I felt needed additional funding. I want the Board members to get out to SQL Saturdays, chapter meetings and maybe an international event. I want them to talk to people they don’t know and see what’s going on in places they wouldn’t otherwise get to. I’m planning to pick a SQL Saturday where I don’t know anyone and attend. I think that’s one of the best ways to find out what’s important to our members.
- PASS continues to look at ways to change our governance structure to better support the international organization we are becoming. Our global governance team is meeting in late March at SQLBits to continue discussions about what these changes might be.
- We looked at a variety of locations for this meeting and found that most of the people we wanted would already be there. We allocated an additional $10,000 for travel expenses to support this.
- We approved $10,000 for marketing for video production. At the Summit we show videos right before the keynotes. These are produced on site and we try to cram as many faces into them as we can while highlighting all the great events from the previous day. They’re great for seeing your friends but not always a great tool to convince someone to attend the Summit. You can see these and a hundred more PASS videos on the SQLPASS channel on YouTube. We plan to use this video as marketing for the Summit. We hope to use it as pre-roll for existing videos, chapters, SQL Saturdays and any other events where it may be appropriate to show it.
If you add all these up you get to $177,200. We think there may be additional spending around governance changes related to becoming a more international organization and we wanted to leave room for that. And of course, if we don’t spend it then it goes to reserves.
The PASS Board recently concluded their two day Board meeting in Seattle. The minutes will be published here later this week or early next week. The minutes for a two day meeting run to nearly ten pages and need to be approved by a majority of the Board prior to publishing. While the minutes cover all the topics in detail, I want to focus on six items that I feel are important to share:
Information Technology. Three years ago the PASS IT department had one individual trying to keep up with office support, rolling out web sites and custom writing applications to support our business. We had many competing priorities and were struggling to make progress. Today we have three individuals and they’re providing outstanding support to the organization. Our internal support is efficient and we are quickly able to rollout event web sites. We’ve also started making significant improvements to the SQLSaturday web application. One huge win has been Orator, our custom developed tool that manages speakers and abstract submissions for conferences. Orator is already starting to reduce workload at HQ and amongst our various event program teams and has improved communication with speakers.
PASS SQLRally. The selection process for the PASS SQLRally 2013 will be starting up in the next couple of weeks. This year we expect to have a room block approved to broaden the base of possible host cities. We’re also going to have HQ more involved in helping the cities with the logistics side of their proposal. We discussed various ways to involve PASS members in the selection process: either selecting the final city from a short list or having a vote earlier in the process that simply counts as one component of the selection process. Whatever form this takes will be clearly outlined in the application process. With PASS Summit 2013 on the east coast, our hope is to balance out our geographic footprint with SQLRally 2013.
PASS Summit. We’ve grown so big that for this year’s Summit we will be using both the North and South sides of the convention center. The biggest change? The dining hall will move over to the North side and will be accessible via the sky bridge. We’ll likely have to move a few session rooms over to the North side as well – which means larger capacity rooms! We also brainstormed on new ideas/formats for this year’s Summit and discussed the possibility of having only 2 keynotes this year. What do you think? Let us know. The Summit selection process for 2015 and 2017 was also touched on.
Board Appointments. The Board spent 90 minutes discussing Board appointments. I briefly covered this in a blog post last week. The discussion covered a variety of topics with the entire Board participating, and the bottom line is that we stand by our recent appointment decisions. However, we know we need to improve our communication around how the appointment process will work next time.
Global Growth. In an effort to manage the explosive growth of SQL Server events and membership outside of North America, we’ve set up committees to look at various ways we can better support our global membership. The Event, Event Content, Communications, Chapters and Governance committees all provided updates. Some highlights: we will temporarily un-gate all PASS recorded sessions currently on our website, we’re going to implement a new Connector newsletter look and feel, and we’re exploring different models of PASS governance structure. I’ll be writing more about our governance discussions and ideas in a future newsletter.
The next in-person Board meeting will be in Dallas in conjunction with PASS SQLRally 2012, which will also be attended by the Board. I hope to see many of you there!
The PASS Board meeting wrapped up on Thursday in Seattle, and as promised, we discussed the Board appointment process for close to 90 minutes. We gave careful consideration to the membership feedback received over the last couple of weeks and reviewed all opinions. We understand and respect that certain of our members disagree with our decision. However, the Board members who voted in favor of the appointments of Kendal Van Dyke and James Rowland-Jones stand by their decision.
As PASS President, I erred in not clearly communicating how the appointment process would work. I should have been clear whether I would automatically recommend the runners up or choose from a broader pool for my recommendation to the Board. In the future, if we have known appointment openings prior to the start of the election process, I will clearly, and publicly, articulate how I plan to approach the appointment process.
In the next PASS Connector newsletter, we will provide a roundup of our latest Board meeting and will do so for every subsequent in-person meeting. I’m also encouraging PASS Board members to blog about their Board meeting experiences. We do publish the Board meeting minutes, but I recognize many of you do not have the time to review these lengthy public documents, so we’ll summarize as best as possible and publish the information in our bi-monthly newsletter. This will help us do a better job articulating and communicating PASS Board discussions and decisions.
Please join me in congratulating James Rowland Jones and Kendal Van Dyke on their appointments to the PASS Board.
James is a member of the SQLBits organizing committee, a very successful SQL Server event program based in the UK, and has been an international advisor to the PASS Board since August 2011. His approach to problem solving and well thought out ideas and discussions have been a valuable asset to the Board. Kendal is a passionate PASS volunteer and leader of the MagicPASS Chapter based in Orlando, FL. who has demonstrated thoughtful and persuasive arguments around PASS governance issues.
For those of you wondering how and why these two appointments were made to the PASS Board – read on!
PASS Board members that are elected to at-large positions serve two year terms. If they aren’t able to complete their term the bylaws state these seats are “filled, by a majority vote of the Board of Directors, for the unexpired term.” Prior to a June 2009 bylaw change these vacated seats with unexpired terms were filled by Presidential appointment.
The current process to fill vacated seats is simple and PASS Board Directors’ votes are publicly recorded. The Directors get to vote for the people who they feel will best serve the organization. It’s important to note that these appointments require a majority vote of the Board.
Board seats usually come available through resignation or a Board member moving to the Executive Committee. As of January 1st, Douglas McDowell moved to the Executive Vice-President of Finance role by Board election and Andy Warren resigned his seat. This means there were two Board seats to fill with terms expiring at the end of 2012.
While the President no longer appoints Directors, they do to put forward candidates. I did this in consultation with the Board in hopes of a smooth appointment process.
In this case, I focused on choosing the best individuals from among our membership to fill these slots. I based my decision on several factors: personal experience, whether the individuals stood for election, Nomination Committee rankings, and vote totals during the election. I also considered what they might be doing once on the Board. For example, we have an opening in the SQL Saturday portfolio that would be nice to fill without shuffling or doubling up. I also wanted to consider people from outside North America. Much of the growth for PASS over the next few years will be international and I wanted to see if we could find someone to help facilitate that growth.
I put forward James Rowland-Jones and Kendal Van Dyke as my recommended candidates. The Board discussed the appointment selections at length. We discussed a variety of potential candidates, including the two I put forward. We looked at several approaches for choosing candidates including appointing the two best people we knew, selecting the next highest vote getters in the recent election, choosing based on portfolio need and appointing based on geographic region. A portion of the discussion was placed under NDA in order to candidly discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate and the Nominating Committee information. It didn’t seem appropriate to discuss individuals’ strengths and weaknesses in the public minutes– especially since some of those individuals may not have known they were even being considered. In the end the motion passed 11 to 1 to bring on James and Kendal.
I am confident that these individuals will serve PASS and its membership effectively. Our meeting minutes will be published in a week or two. Please feel free to drop me a line with any comments or feedback, or simply comment on this post.
For my first editorial as PASS President, I want to take a moment to thank all of you who voted in our Board elections in December and encourage you to get even more involved in your organization in this new year. It was awesome to see the excitement generated by a phenomenal slate of candidates and by wide-ranging community discussion about the biggest issues and opportunities facing our organization. I challenge all of us to translate that energy into creative solutions to help SQL Server professionals around the world connect, share, and learn. With your help, 2012 is going to be a great year for PASS!
One of the first tasks for the President each year is to assign Board members to portfolios, and I’m excited to announce this year’s portfolio leaders. The portfolios for members of the Executive Committee were determined when the Board elected them last June. Douglas McDowell will serve as Executive Vice President, Finance, and Thomas LaRock will serve as Vice President, Marketing. Rushabh Mehta moves to the role of Immediate Past President. These terms started Jan. 1 and run for 2 years.
Directors-At-Large are typically assigned a portfolio for a calendar year, although sometimes Board members will head the same portfolio for 2 years. This approach works best with the natural Board turnover and matching the desires of Board members with the needs of the organization.
This year, we have only one returning At-Large Director, Allen Kinsel, who is taking over the Chapters portfolio. Allen previously headed the Summit Program committee, and his experience leading a large volunteer team will be invaluable in the Chapters area.
Our three newly elected Board members – Adam Jorgensen, Denise McInerney, and Rob Farley – have also received their portfolio assignments. Adam will lead the Summit Program portfolio, putting his previous 2 years of experience on the Program Committee and service in two other portfolios to great use. Adam’s experience and combined technical and business skills will be central to the continued expansion of our Summit educational offerings.
Denise will take over the Virtual Chapters portfolio. Denise was instrumental in the creation and growth of the Women in Technology (WIT) Virtual Chapter and the growth of its leadership team, and I’m excited to bring her experience to all our Virtual Chapters.
And Rob will lead the 24 Hours of PASS portfolio, heading up our largest online events program and one of our greatest opportunities to reach more members. PASS has a tremendous opportunity to expand its offering of local-language events that can touch all parts of the globe. Rob’s drive and experience organizing events and volunteers will really shine in this portfolio.
Our last portfolio, the popular PASS SQLSaturday events program, will be filled when the Board appoints someone to fill one of two empty Board seats later this month.
I’m honored to be working with a Board that has more experience and depth than any I can remember. And I’m looking forward to this team and our army of volunteers accomplishing great things for PASS and the SQL Server community this year.
Last year after the election, the PASS Board created an Election Review Committee. This group was charged with reviewing our election procedures and making suggestions to improve the process. You can read about the formation of the group and review some of the intermediate work on the site – especially in the forums.
I was one of the members of the group along with Joe Webb (Chair), Lori Edwards, Brian Kelley, Wendy Pastrick, Andy Warren and Allen White. This group worked from October to April on our election process. Along the way we:
- Interviewed interested parties including former NomCom members, Board candidates and anyone else that came forward.
- Held a session at the Summit to allow interested parties to discuss the issues
- Had numerous conference calls and worked through the various topics
I can’t thank these people enough for the work they did. They invested a tremendous number of hours thinking, talking and writing about our elections. I’m proud to say I was a member of this group and thoroughly enjoyed working with everyone (even if I did finally get tired of all the calls.)
The ERC delivered their recommendations to the PASS Board prior to our May Board meeting. We reviewed those and made a few modifications. I took their recommendations and rewrote them as procedures while incorporating those changes. Their original recommendations as well as our final document are posted at the ERC documents page. Please take a second and read them BEFORE we start the elections. If you have any questions please post them in the forums on the ERC site.
(My final document includes a change log at the end that I decided to leave in. If you want to know which areas to pay special attention to that’s a good start.)
Many of those recommendations were already posted in the forums or in the blogs of individual ERC members. Hopefully nothing in the ERC document is too surprising.
In this post I’m going to walk through some of the key changes and talk about what I remember from both ERC and Board discussions. I’ll pay a little extra attention to things the Board changed from the ERC. I’d also encourage any of the Board or ERC members to blog their thoughts on this.
- The Nominating Committee will continue to exist. Personally, I was curious to see what the non-Board ERC members would think about the NomCom. There was broad agreement that a group to vet candidates had value to the organization.
- The NomCom will be composed of five members. Two will be Board members and three will be from the membership at large. The only requirement for the three community members is that you’ve volunteered in some way (and volunteering is defined very broadly). We expect potential at-large NomCom members to participate in a forum on the PASS site to answer questions from the other PASS members.
- We’re going to hold an election to determine the three community members. It will be closer to voting for Summit sessions than voting for Board members. That means there won’t be multiple dedicated emails. If you’re at all paying attention it will be easy to participate. Personally I wanted it easy for those that cared to participate but not overwhelm those that didn’t care. I think this strikes a good balance.
- There’s also a clause that in order to be considered a winner in this NomCom election, you must receive 10 votes. This is something I suggested. I have no idea how popular the NomCom election is going to be. I just wanted a fallback that if no one participated and some random person got in with one or two votes. Any open slots will be filled by the NomCom chair (usually the PASS Immediate Past President). My assumption is that they would probably take the next highest vote getters unless they were throwing flames in the forums or clearly unqualified. As a final check, the Board still approves the final NomCom.
- The NomCom is going to rank candidates instead of rating them. This has interesting implications. This was championed by another ERC member and I’m hoping they write something about it. This will really force the NomCom to make decisions between candidates. You can’t just rate everyone a 3 and be done with it. It may also make candidates appear further apart than they actually are. I’m looking forward talking with the NomCom after this election and getting their feedback on this.
- The PASS Board added an option to remove a candidate with a unanimous vote of the NomCom. This was primarily put in place to handle people that lied on their application or had a criminal background or some other unusual situation and we figured it out.
- We list an explicit goal of three candidate per open slot.
- We also wanted an easy way to find the NomCom candidate rankings from the ballot. Hopefully this will satisfy those that want a broad candidate pool and those that want the NomCom to identify the most qualified candidates.
- The primary spokesperson for the NomCom is the committee chair. After the issues around the election last year we didn’t have a good communication plan in place. We should have and that was a failure on the part of the Board. If there is criticism of the election this year I hope that falls squarely on the Board. The community members of the NomCom shouldn’t be fielding complaints over the election process. That said, the NomCom is ranking candidates and we are forcing them to rank some lower than others. I’m sure you’ll each find someone that you think should have been ranked differently.
I also want to highlight one other change to the process that we started last year and isn’t included in these documents. I think the candidate forums on the PASS site were tremendously helpful last year in helping people to find out more about candidates. That gives our members a way to ask hard questions of the candidates and publicly see their answers.
This year we have two important groups to fill. The first is the NomCom. We need three people from our membership to step up and fill this role. It won’t be easy. You will have to make subjective rankings of your fellow community members. Your actions will be important in deciding who the future leaders of PASS will be. There’s a 50/50 chance that one of the people you interview will be the President of PASS someday. This is not a responsibility to be taken lightly.
The second is the slate of candidates. If you’ve ever thought about running for the Board this is the year. We’ve never had nine candidates on the ballot before. Your chance of making it through the NomCom are higher than in any previous year. Unfortunately the more of you that run, the more of you that will lose in the election. And hopefully that competition will mean more community involvement and better Board members for PASS.
Is this the end of changes to the election process? It isn’t. Every year that I’ve been on the Board the election process has changed. Some years there have been small changes and some years there have been large changes. After this election we’ll look at how the process worked and decide what steps to take – just like we do every year.