Category: PASS Chapters

Dallas Hosting PASS SQLRally 2012

Congratulations to Dallas and the North Texas SQL Server User Group, which will be hosting PASS SQLRally 2012 next spring! PASS HQ and NTSSUG are currently working to nail down the event venue and dates – watch this blog, Twitter (hashtag #sqlrally), and the PASS Connector enewsletter for the latest updates.

The 2-day regional SQLRally event, filling the gap between SQLSaturdays and the weeklong Summit, debuted this year in Orlando to great reviews and lessons to share for future conferences. Good luck to NTSSUG – and other PASS chapters pitching in to help – as they strive to take SQLRally to the next level!

You can read more about PASS SQLRally 2012 and the site selection process at:

New and Familiar Faces at PASS HQ

The PASS HQ team is thrilled to announce the addition of two new team members to its core staff.
 
Karla Landrum—already well-known as a PASS volunteer extraordinaire— will join as our newest member starting on July 1. Karla’s passion and enthusiasm for the SQL Server community and PASS is unmatched. An active PASS Regional Mentor for the US Heartland region, Karla has been the lead organizer for 4 PASS SQLSaturdays, and she has volunteered at more than 15 other PASS-related events. Based in Orlando, FL, her role with PASS will focus on the community, managing the PASS Chapter and Regional Mentor programs along with the full roster of SQLSaturday events. Karla brings a true community insider’s perspective to the role, and we look forward to having her onboard. Karla, in her own words, is all set to “work hard, have fun, smile, and achieve success!”
 
Jumping into the new role of PASS Senior Executive Administrative Assistant during the recent Orlando, FL, PASS Board meetings, Michelle Nalliah has already proven herself to be indispensable. Based in Vancouver, BC, and working out of the PASS offices, Michelle manages all administrative duties and governance-related tasks for the PASS Board of Directors and HQ. She also assists the finance and operations teams where required. Michelle has 7 years of administrative experience and comes to us most recently from the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. We are delighted to have her as part of the team and have no doubt her organizational skills will be a great asset to PASS and the community.
 
Karla and Michelle are joining a strong team of individuals who work tirelessly behind the scenes to help PASS and its members to connect, share, and learn. And starting next month, you can learn more about each PASS HQ member through a new “PASS Staff” highlight feature in the PASS Connector newsletter.
 
In the meantime, please extend a warm welcome to Karla and Michelle and feel free to drop me a line with any questions or comments.

PASS: The Legal Stuff

[cross-posted from Bill Graziano's blog at sqlteam.com]

I wanted to give a little background on the legal status of PASS.  The Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) is an American corporation chartered in the state of Illinois.  In America a corporation has to be chartered in a particular state.  It has to abide by the laws of that state and potentially pay taxes to that state.  Our bylaws and actions have to comply with Illinois state law and United States law.  We maintain a mailing address in Chicago, Illinois but our headquarters is currently in Vancouver, Canada.

We have roughly a dozen people that work in our Vancouver headquarters and 4-5 more that work remotely on various projects.  These aren’t employees of PASS.  They are employed by a management company that we hire to run the day to day operations of the organization.  I’ll have more on this arrangement in a future post.

PASS is a non-profit corporation.  The term non-profit and not-for-profit are used interchangeably.  In a for-profit corporation (or LLC) there are owners that are entitled to the profits of a company.  In a non-profit there are no owners.  As a non-profit, all the money earned by the organization must be retained or spent.  There is no money that flows out to shareholders, owners or the board of directors.  Any money not spent in furtherance of our mission is retained as financial reserves.

Many non-profits apply for tax exempt status.  Being tax exempt means that an organization doesn’t pay taxes on its profits.  There are a variety of laws governing who can be tax exempt in the United States.  There are many professional associations that are tax exempt however PASS isn’t tax exempt.  Because our mission revolves around the software of a single company we aren’t eligible for tax exempt status.

PASS was founded in the late 1990’s by Microsoft and Platinum Technologies.  Platinum was later purchased by Computer Associates. As the founding partners Microsoft and CA each have two seats on the Board of Directors.  The other six directors and three officers are elected as specified in our bylaws.

As a non-profit, our bylaws layout our governing practices.  They must conform to Illinois and United States law.  These bylaws specify that PASS is governed by a Board of Directors elected by the membership with two members each from Microsoft and CA.  You can find our bylaws as well as a proposed update to them on the governance page of the PASS web site.

The last point that I’d like to make is that PASS is completely self-funded.  All of our $4 million in revenue comes from conference registrations, sponsorships and advertising.  We don’t receive any money from anyone outside those channels.  While we work closely with Microsoft we are independent of them and only derive a very small percentage of our revenue from them.

PASS Resources Revealed

[cross-posted from Allen Kinsel's blog at allenkinsel.com]

What has PASS been up to?

Ever find yourself with tons of extra time just looking for something to dig through?

yeah, me neither… But, I do make it a point to go out and read through lots of PASS documents regularly.  Sure, Some of those documents are not for public consumption but, a large portion of them are available for any PASS Member to view.  Almost all of them will require you to be logged in to the PASS site.

A good starting point is the PASS Governance Page <- lots of good stuff hides on this page, Im working on getting this page removed from behind the login wall

PASS BOD Meeting Minutes are posted on the left hand side

The Feb 2011 Minutes are here

  • Good discussions in here about Globalization of PASS, especially revolving around events

The Jan 2011 Minutes are here

  • This was an in-person meeting and there is a literal ton of info in here.  Highlights are  globalization, Summit 2011 Planning, Summit 2010 Post mortem, 5 Year plans, Bylaw Changes

PASS Monthly Reports are found in the middle on the left

These are gems that reveal the day to day inner workings of the BOD and HQ

The Feb report should be posted in the next day or 2

The Jan report however, is here

  • In here You’ll find things about Chapters, IT Projects, Marketing initiatives, ERC info, Sponsorship Sales, Summit Program, SQLRally, Gloablization, etc

The Dec report is here

  • This one contains things like Chapter info, HQ Finance, IT Projects, Marketing, Summit, Rally, 24hop, SQL Saturday,

The budget for PASS is included at the bottom of the governance page

2011 Budget is here

  • Wanna know where the money is supposed to be coming from, and where its supposed to be going?  this is where to look.
  • Side note: Im going to check into where the 2010 audited financials are, they should be available by now.

The SQL Rally has posted all of the planning meeting notes posted here

  • There is tons of good stuff in here, its especially interesting to me to watch the minutes back and forth dealing with very familiar problems as what I’ve seen in the Summit program group.
  • Wanna know how many attendees are registered so far for the Rally? yup its in there. Wanna know how many are in Precons?  yup its in there too

We (PASS Program) started posting meeting minutes near the lower left side of this page

  • I have written about these minutes before
  • Good information in here about many new changes that are being considered by the Program Committee
  • Essentially It says that I’m not getting nearly enough done for the program committee lately.  I need to work on that!

PASS Blog

  • Im including this here because lost of good stuff gets posted here but, for me I can only find it since its in my RSS Reader.

In Summary, PASS releases a ton of information about what its doing.  The problem with this is two-fold, one its a ton of information.  Two, the information is spread out all over the place and is often difficult to find on the site using conventional browsing methods so I hope this helps

SQLSaturday Round-Up (Feb. 17-23)

(This is Round 13 of PASS's weekly round-up of SQLSaturday recaps. PASS community bloggers love their SQLSaturdays, and they love to tell everyone about their experiences, so who are we not to share that love?)

Last week, PASS SQLSaturday headed for the desert to bring free SQL training to the people of Phoenix.

As usual, the event's organizers did a stellar job! We're not even sure they should put the word "Phoenix" in the next event they hold there -- given the success of SQLSaturday #47, there won't be any ashes to rise from, just successes to build on.

(That is one mesmerizing night sky. Was this the after-party?)

For those of you on Twitter, follow @sqlpass and make sure to check out the #sqlsat and #sqlsaturday hashtags to stay up to date. Besides attendance at free learning events, there are many speaking and sponsorship opportunities available.

LAST WEEK IN SQLSATURDAY...

+ Colin Smith presented at SQLSaturday #47, Phoenix

+ Bill Ramos presented at SQLSaturday #47, Phoenix

COMING UP IN SQLSATURDAY...

This week SQLSaturday #65 stops in beautiful British Columbia, Canada, for the Vancouver get-together - if you're heading that way, make sure to say hi to all the PASS HQ team members stopping by! On Mar. 5, the City of Brotherly Love opens its arms wide for SQLSaturday #69, Philadelphia. And on Mar. 19, the event makes a pit-stop in Columbia, SC, for SQLSaturday #70.

IN OTHER NEWS...

Things are somewhat quiet on the SQLSaturday front this week. The organizers of SQLSaturday #67, Chicago, are planning a pre-conference session. Take a look! 

A hot topic of discussion this past week has centered around the question, "What Should PASS Be?" SQLSaturday is a key part of PASS's future vision - definitely some interesting points to be found here. Make sure to have your say!

Want to attend or speak at a SQLSaturday? Check out the SQLSaturday website or "Upcoming In-Person Events" on the PASS Home page for upcoming dates near you.

Want to put on your own SQLSaturday? Click here to get started.

What Should PASS Be? I Challenge You

[cross-posted from Andy's blog at sqlandy.com]

PASS isn’t what it should be. I hear that a lot, and in many ways I agree with you. We’re finally growing and evolving, but we’re still far from what I think most of you expect from a true professional association.

But.

I’m not sure you or I have realistic expectations. So I want to challenge you. Draw an image of what you want PASS to be in 3 years and share it on your blog (or post a comment here if you don’t have a blog). Imagine we just hired you to be CEO of PASS and you were going to “fix” things, what would you do? What’s your vision for providing benefits to chapters or members, or for growing membership, or for global growth, or whatever areas you think are badly served right now?

Maybe I just don’t have the vision – I’m limited by my own biases and experiences – but I’d really like for PASS to be what you want it to be. An organization that serves you, excites you, makes you proud to be part of it, proud to support it, and willing to challenge it if it steps off track.

Maybe it’s a paragraph, maybe it’s a thousand words, but I hope you’ll write something. We’ve got several hundred bloggers in the SQL space, and a whole lot of members. What you write may not change the world, but maybe it will.

The Changing Face of PASS

[cross-posted from Bill Graziano's blog at sqlteam.com]

I’m starting my sixth year on the PASS Board.  I served two years as the Program Director, two years as the Vice-President of Marketing and I’m starting my second year as the Executive Vice-President of Finance.  There’s a pretty good chance that if PASS has done something you don’t like or is doing something you don’t like, that I’m involved in one way or another.

Andy Leonard asked in a comment on his blog if the Board had ever reversed itself based on community input.  He asserted that it hadn’t.  I disagree.  I’m not going to try and list all the changes we make inside portfolios based on feedback from and meetings with the community.  I’m going to focus on major governance issues since I was elected to the Board.

Management Company

The first big change was our management company.  Our old management company had a standard approach to running a non-profit.  It worked well when PASS was launched.  Having a ready-made structure and process to run the organization enabled the organization to grow quickly.  As time went on we were limited in some of the things we wanted to do.  The more involved you were with PASS, the more you saw these limitations.  Key volunteers were regularly providing feedback that they wanted certain changes that were difficult for us to accomplish.  The Board at that time wanted changes that were difficult or impossible to accomplish under that structure.

This was not a simple change.  Imagine a $2.5 million dollar company letting all its employees go on a Friday and starting with a new staff on Monday.  We also had a very narrow window to accomplish that so that we wouldn’t affect the Summit – our only source of revenue.  We spent the year after the change rebuilding processes and putting on the Summit in Denver. 

That’s a concrete example of a huge change that PASS made to better serve its members.  And it was a change that many in the community were telling us we needed to make.

Financials

We heard regularly from our members that they wanted our financials posted.  Today on our web site you can find audited financials going back to 2004.  We publish our budget at the start of each year.  If you ask a question about the financials on the PASS site I do my best to answer it.  I’m also trying to do a better job answering financial questions posted in other locations.  (And yes, I know I owe a few of you some blog posts.)

That’s another concrete example of a change that our members asked for that the Board agreed was a good decision.

Minutes

When I started on the Board the meeting minutes were very limited.  The minutes from a two day Board meeting might fit on one page.  I think we did the bare minimum we were legally required to do.  Today Board meeting minutes run from 5 to 12 pages and go into incredible detail on what we talk about.  There are certain topics that are NDA but where possible we try to list the topic we discussed but that the actual discussion was under NDA.  We also publish the agenda of Board meetings ahead of time.

This is another specific example where input from the community influenced the decision.  It was certainly easier to have limited minutes but I think the extra effort helps our members understand what’s going on.

Board Q&A

At the 2009 Summit the Board held its first public Q&A with our members.  We’d always been available individually to answer questions.  There’s a benefit to getting us all in one room and asking the really hard questions to watch us squirm.  We learn what questions we don’t have good answers for.  We get to see how many people in the crowd look interested in the various questions and answers.

I don’t recall the genesis of how this came about.  I’m fairly certain there was some community pressure though.

Board Votes

Until last November, the Board only reported the vote totals and not how individual Board members voted.  That was one of the topics at a great lunch I had with Tim Mitchell and Kendal van Dyke at the Summit.  That was also the topic of the first question asked at the Board Q&A by Kendal.  Kendal expressed his opposition to to anonymous votes clearly and passionately and without trying to paint anyone into a corner.  Less than 24 hours later the PASS Board voted to make individual votes public unless the topic was under NDA.  That’s another area where the Board decided to change based on feedback from our members.

Summit Location

While this isn’t actually a governance issue it is one of the more public decisions we make that has taken some public criticism.  There is a significant portion of our members that want the Summit near them.  There is a significant portion of our members that like the Summit in Seattle.  There is a significant portion of our members that think it should move around the country.  I was one that felt strongly that there were significant, tangible benefits to our attendees to being in Seattle every year.  I’m also one that has been swayed by some very compelling arguments that we need to have at least one outside Seattle and then revisit the decision.  I can’t tell you how the Board will vote but I know the opinion of our members weighs heavily on the decision.

Elections

And that brings us to the grand-daddy of all governance issues.  My thesis for this blog post is that the PASS Board has implemented policy changes in response to member feedback.  It isn’t to defend or criticize our election process.  It’s just to say that is has been under going continuous change since I’ve been on the Board. 

I ran for the Board in the fall of 2005.  I don’t know much about what happened before then.  I was actively volunteering for PASS for four years prior to that as a chapter leader and on the program committee.  I don’t recall any complaints about elections but that doesn’t mean they didn’t occur.  The questions from the Nominating Committee (NomCom) were trivial and the selection process rudimentary (For example, “Tell us about your accomplishments”).  I don’t even remember who I ran against or how many other people ran. 

I ran for the VP of Marketing in the fall of 2007.  I don’t recall any significant changes the Board made in the election process for that election.  I think a lot of the changes in 2007 came from us asking the management company to work on the election process.  I was expecting a similar set of puff ball questions from my previous election.  Boy, was I in for a shock.  The NomCom had found a much better set of questions and really made the interview portion difficult.  The questions were much more behavioral in nature.  I’d already written about my vision for PASS and my goals.  They wanted to know how I handled adversity, how I handled criticism, how I handled conflict, how I handled troublesome volunteers, how I motivated people and how I responded to motivation. And many, many other things.

They grilled me for over an hour.  I’ve done a fair bit of technical sales in my time.  I feel I speak well under pressure addressing pointed questions.  This interview intentionally put me under pressure.  In addition to wanting to know about my interpersonal skills, my work experience, my volunteer experience and my supervisory experience they wanted to see how I’d do under pressure.  They wanted to see who would respond under pressure and who wouldn’t.  It was a bit of a shock.

That was the first big change I remember in the election process.  I know there were other improvements around the process but none of them stick in my mind quite like the unexpected hour-long grilling.

The next big change I remember was after the 2009 elections.  Andy Warren was unhappy with the election process and wanted to make some changes.  He worked with Hannes at HQ and they came up with a better set of processes.  I think Andy moved PASS in the right direction.  Nonetheless, after the 2010 election even more people were very publicly clamoring for changes to our election process. 

In August of 2010 we had a choice to make.  There were numerous bloggers criticizing the Board and our upcoming election.  The easy change would be to announce that we were changing the process in a way that would satisfy our critics.  I believe that a knee-jerk response to criticism is seldom correct.

Instead the Board spent August and September and October and November listening to the community.  I visited two SQLSaturdays and asked questions of everyone I could.  I attended chapter meetings and asked questions of as many people as they’d let me.  At Summit I made it a point to introduce myself to strangers and ask them about the election.  At every breakfast I’d sit down at a table full of strangers and ask about the election.  I’m happy to say that I left most tables arguing about the election.  Most days I managed to get 2 or 3 breakfasts in.

I spent less time talking to people that had already written about the election.  They were already expressing their opinion.  I wanted to talk to people that hadn’t spoken up.  I wanted to know what the silent majority thought.  The Board all attended the Q&A session where our members expressed their concerns about a variety of issues including the election.

The PASS Board also chose to create the Election Review Committee.  We wanted people from the community that had been involved with PASS to look at our election process with fresh eyes while listening to what the community had to say and give us some advice on how we could improve the process.  I’m a part of this as is Andy Warren.  None of the other members are on the Board.  I’ve sat in numerous calls and interviews with this group and attended an open meeting at the Summit.  We asked anyone that wanted to discuss the election to come speak with us.  The ERC held an open meeting at the Summit and invited anyone to attend.  There are forums on the ERC web site where we’ve invited people to participate.  The ERC has reached to key people involved in recent elections. 

The years that I haven’t mentioned also saw minor improvements in the election process.  Off the top of my head I don’t recall what exact changes were made each year.  Specifically since the 2010 election we’ve gone out of our way to seek input from the community about the process.  I’m not sure what more we could have done to invite feedback from the community.

I think to say that we haven’t “fixed” the election process isn’t a fair criticism at this time.  We haven’t rushed any changes through the process.  If you don’t see any changes in our election process in July or August then I think it’s fair to criticize us for ignoring the community or ask for an explanation for what we’ve done.

In Summary

Andy’s main point was that the PASS Board hasn’t changed in response to our members wishes.  I think I’ve shown that time and time again the PASS Board has changed in response to what our members want.  There are only two outstanding issues: Summit location and elections.  The 2013 Summit location hasn’t been decided yet.  Our work on the elections is also in progress.  And at every step in the election review we’ve gone out of our way to listen to the community and incorporate their feedback on the process.

I also hope I’m not encouraging everyone that wants some change in the organization to organize a “blog rush” against the Board.  We take public suggestions very seriously but we also take the time to evaluate those suggestions and learn what the rest of our members think and make a measured decision.

Farewell to Director Christoph Stotz

Dear PASS Members,

It is with great sadness that the PASS Board must bid farewell to Christoph Stotz. Christoph has been with the organization since its infancy, and throughout has been a passionate advocate for its cause. 

He helped launch PASS Germany in the early 2000s, a Chapter which is currently over 2000 members strong and a major hub for all things SQL Server in Europe. Christoph was also a foundational driving force behind the PASS European Conference, his tireless efforts instrumental in the event's growth and success. The Board of Directors recognized his skills and verve, and in 2005 he was appointed to the Board as an advisor on European matters. In time, his role encompassed a wider scope, and he became a champion for the global cause.

Christoph is stepping down to concentrate on a number of personal goals. He leaves a legacy that will be incredibly difficult to match by any successor to the role. In all his dealings with PASS, whether as Chapter leader, event organizer, or regional Director, Christoph was known for providing thoughtful analysis and sage advice at just the right time. His combination of wisdom and experience will not be easy to replace.

But as they say, all good things must come to an end. We wish Christoph all the best of luck in his future endeavors and have no doubt that success will continue to follow him wherever he goes. He will be missed!

PASS SQLRally 2012 - Selection Process for Host City Now Underway!

Hello Chapter Leaders!

As you may know, we will be having our first PASS SQLRally in Orlando on May 11-13. This event is PASS' new regional event that fills the gap between the PASS SQLSaturday 1-day training events and the week-long PASS Summit.

We have recently begun the planning process for the 2012 event and are reaching out to the Chapters in the US to see who would be interested in hosting the event in May 2012.

If you are interested, please inform Anika at PASSHQ of your Expression of Interest before February 14th. Please include the following information in your submission: 

  • Geographical Location (Note: Preferred locations will be in the Central and Mountain time zones, along with locations in the North Eastern US)
  • Chapter Size as determined by number of members
  • Proven history of managing events (ie. SQLSaturdays)

The SQLRally Selection Committee will review all submissions. The Committee is made up of volunteers and PASS HQ event and logistics specialists. All submitters will be advised by February 17th if they meet the primary requirements. 

For Chapters that meet the requirements for the 2012 Host City, the next steps will be:

  • Chapter to submit the completed application (attached) by Feb. 20.
  • PASS HQ to summarize all applications and provide to the SQLRally Selection Committee.
  • Selection Committee to choose the top 5 likely candidates.
  • Anika to contact venues in the chosen cities for RFPs.
  • Review and analysis of RFPs; Selection Committee to select the top 3 potential candidate cities.
  • Community vote to select the 2012 location.
  • Winner will be announced at the Orlando SQLRally on May 13.

If you have any questions or to submit your Expression of Interest, please email Anika at PASSHQ at Anika.Poliseno@sqlpass.org. Anika will be available to assist at any step along the way so please don’t hesitate to contact her at 604-899-6009 x118.

Thank you for your interest and we look forward to the selection process!

 

PASS Summit Location

[cross-posted from Geoff Hiten's blog at sqlteam.com]

Both Tom LaRock and Andy Warren recently posted blogs on PASS Summit 2013 locations. As was announced at the 2010 Summit, we have a contract that keeps the Summit in Seattle for 2011 and 2012. 2013 is the next "unhomed" Summit.

One of the largest areas of contention during the recent PASS Board of Directors elections was the location of the Summit. I am surprised the keynote sessions didn't erupt into a Lite-beer-esque "More Locations" vs. "Seattle is Great" chant this year.

We had a similar issue in the Atlanta user group a few years back. We started moving the location around and taking straw polls on where we should meet. Not surprisingly, every location was the favorite, at least for the crowd AT that location. We also had issues with people finding the venue when we moved it. Finally, there were some venues that were just impossible to deal with from a business perspective. One particular place kept sending bills to the wrong sponsors based on old paperwork.

My Key Take-Aways:

  • Moving venues is a risk, sometimes in ways you cannot see at first.
  • Moving venues adds some new attendees and loses some attendees.
  • Constantly moving venues gradually lowers attendance.
  • Having a regular home for an event is important.
  • Visiting away from home is important too.

What I would like to see is the Summit stay in Seattle most of the time. Ideally, the CTP through RTM years for a major SQL Server version release should stay in Seattle. Those are the years where the Microsoft presence will be most valuable.  During the "quiet year" when Microsoft is heads-down focusing on the next release the Summit could be somewhere else. It is during that time that I see community contributors such as MVPs having the most valuable presentations. Microsoft may build SQL Server, but we have to earn a living using it.

Unfortunately, we do not have insight into Microsoft's future release schedule other than its published roadmaps. Certainly not enough to plan an event 2-3 years out. Maybe we get partnerships that deep? Maybe Microsoft doesn't have things firmed up that far out?

Meanwhile, we do the best we can in listening to the community and making decisions on where to have the Summit in the future. Tell me what is important to YOU regarding Summit location. This is definitely going to be an imperfect solution, but together we can make it less imperfect.