Category: PASS Chapters

SQLSaturday Round-Up (Oct. 20-27)

You know all about PASS SQLSaturdays already, I'm sure. If you don't, you may want to visit the SQLSaturday website for more information.

If you do, you'll be happy to note that (starting today, Wednesday, with this humble post) we'll be doing a 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?

The posts are all SQLSaturday recaps written in the last week. If you wrote (or are planning to write) a SQLSaturday recap on your blog and you don't see it posted on PASS Blog, let us know and we'll make sure to look out for your efforts.


+ Jen McCown presented at SQLSaturday #56 in Dallas

+ Tim Mitchell also presented at SQLSaturday #56 in Dallas

+ Jack Corbett helped organize SQLSaturday #49 in Orlando

+ Jorge Segarra presented at SQLSaturday #49 in Orlando

+ Jason Brimhall attended SQLSaturday #54 in Salt Lake City


You might also be interested in the thoughts and musings of Andy Warren, SQLSaturday co-founder and PASS Director. Andy's currently pondering new SQLSaturday sponsorship models as well as fresh ways to advertise events locally.

Want to attend 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.



PASS Update #44 (Budget)

(cross-posted from

I had a question recently about how budgets work at PASS, and I think that’s something worth sharing, so I’m going to write an overview of that process today.  Note that I’m not the Finance guy, so the “official” word gets published elsewhere, and for that reason I’m not quoting numbers, just talking about process from my perspective as a participant in that process.

First, we start with funding, how do we raise money to pay the bills? A big, big chunk of our revenue comes from the annual PASS Summit, and you can think of this as not just a community event but an “annual fund raiser”. Some of that is from paid attendees and some from sponsors. We also generate some funds from selling Summit DVD’s as well as sponsorships for things like 24 Hours of PASS. PASS does not take any portion of sponsorship funds from SQLSaturday events or Chapter meetings. [Note: That isn’t to suggest that we might, just to explain that we don’t.]

Also, we should have the budget for 2011 published shortly and I’ll post a note when you can review the full document.

Early each year we start estimating (aka guessing) what our revenue will be for the next year. So in Jan/Feb and up through May we’re looking at how much money we will have for the fiscal year that begins July first, with the added challenge that we won’t know how we did until mid to late December after we’ve finalized all the items related to the Summit. If we guess too low we hurt the organization by spending less in often critical areas, and if we guess too high, then that leads to painful discussions about what areas to cut. This is something that most businesses go through and certainly isn’t unique to PASS.

Then we switch to spending. It starts with the President assigning ‘portfolios’ to Board members, which you can think of a being about the same as a large department in most companies. Directors then submit a budget request to the VP of Finance outlining how much and the major areas where it will be spent. At this point it’s a wish list, but scoped based on anticipated changes up or down in revenue as well as the previous year budget. The VP of Finance (currently Bill Graziano) and our accountant then combine all that into a monster spreadsheet for the first round of review.

Next we typically look at that first cut and start talking about where we can make adjustments. Most requests are reasonable to start with, but sometimes there just isn’t enough to do everything, so we each review our list and find places to reduce our request. This has been for one of the best experiences on the Board for me, everyone working together and jointly trying to find ways to get to a budget that will let us accomplish our most important goals.

Then, finally, we vote to approve the budget. At that point we’re able to authorize spend against that budget as long as it generally fits within the plan. If it’s a minor change we’ll send a note to Bill asking for his ok. An example was the project to populate the SQLSaturday wiki. I requested to re-align some of the funds allocated for the project and as it was inline with the goals of the portfolio it was approved. A deeper change might be sent out to the Board for discussion. Once the budget is approved, getting ‘more money’ requires a budget exception, which in turn requires Board discussion and vote. That process is, by design, painful. It takes time to have the discussion, we have to find that ‘more money’, and in general we don’t like mid course changes. They do happen though, and perhaps once a year we’ll have one.

So, where does the money go? We maintain an office and staff, to do things like plan and handle Summit logistics, do SQLSaturday coaching, maintain an auditable set of financial records, and a whole lot more. A lot of it goes to costs at the Summit. I won’t go into numbers here, but the costs are significant. To give you a taste of the costs, at the upcoming SQLRally it costs $12,000 per day for the space, and anything we spend on food and beverage reduces that cost, hopefully to zero. We have to use the hotel for food and beverage, and a boxed lunch costs, wait for it, $35 per box! Our team does a lot to control, reduce, and negotiate these costs, but if you need a big venue, you’re largely stuck playing their game. We devote some money to all the other stuff; SQLSaturday sponsorships, IT projects, etc, etc, etc.

Board members are not paid. When we travel on behalf of PASS (usually just 3-4 meetings a year) we get per diem and reimbursed for airfare, PASS pays for the hotel directly. We do get “free” admission to the Summit. Individual Board members don’t have any personal discretionary spending authority or budget, if we buy drinks or appetizers or coffee when we sit to talk informally with members it’s all out of pocket.

Each year we grant free admission (a “comp”) to the Summit to our speakers and a small number of volunteers. Comps are built into the budget because they have a real cost. It’s not “free” to just let someone extra attend – they get a bag, require registration services, eat meals, drink water, and in general cost real money. It’s somewhat less than the cost of a full registration, but it is substantial. We’d love to do more comps, but ultimately it comes back to the budget. Faced with sponsoring a couple more events or buying SWAG or any of the other places where spending would help, we try to do the things that help most members.

All in all, it’s the standard process that any business goes through, making estimates and judgments and tradeoffs to try to do the most good. Hope that helps some. When Bill publishes the budget I encourage you to read it carefully, though I’ll tell you it’s not exciting reading! He’ll also be publishing an annual statement about our finances and you should read that as well. I think the thing I’d tell you is to look at it portfolio by portfolio and if you have suggestions, send them in.

PASS Elections 2010: Winners Announced

The ballots are in, the votes are counted, and the results have been confirmed. While PASS was lucky to have 9 fantastic nominees for this year's elections race, congratulations are in order for this year's three winning candidates.

Andy Warren, President of Fourdeuce Inc., and Douglas McDowell, CEO (North America) of Solid Quality Mentors, were re-elected to the Board. They will be joined for the 2011/2012 Board of Directors term by Allen Kinsel, last year's joint PASSion Award Winner.

This year there were 1084 ballots cast, a 188% improvement on the 576 ballots cast in the 2009 elections. 2796 unique votes were counted. 

Detailed results:

Candidate Votes
Andy Warren 789
Douglas McDowell 604
Allen Kinsel 511
Geoff Hiten 464
Mark Ginnebaugh 428







For biographies of all the candidates in the 2010 elections race, please visit our Elections website

Hannes Bezuidenhout
PASS HQ - Governance

Q2 Chapter Survey Shows Strong Community "Reach"

Early in 2010 Blythe Morrow and I set out to get a better understanding of the makeup and needs of the PASS community as represented by our Chapters.  To connect better with Chapters we initiated quarterly surveys.  For the initial Q1 survey 49% of Chapters responded and I published the results a March blog: .  The survey participation and feedback was great; at that point I set goals for future surveys: 60% Chapter participation per survey and 80% participation from Chapters overall across all 2010 surveys.

In July Nancy Nasso and I closed-out the Q2 Chapter Survey, and I am finally getting around to summarizing the results for you.  Of PASS’s 207 Chapters, 127 Chapter Leaders (61%) responded to the Q2 Survey.  We beat my 60% participation goal – these results are a very good representation of our current Chapters.  A personal “thank you” to all the leaders that participated.

Here’s what Chapter Leaders told us about their Chapters:

·         76% of Chapters that responded have a membership of 500 or less

·         81% of Chapters that responded have regular attendance of between 10-50

·         33% of Chapters that responded have 6-10 meetings per year, 44% have 11-16, and 20% have fewer than 6

To better understand the technical focus/interests of PASS members we asked Chapters the percentage of coverage (at meetings) they provide to general topic areas, a combined metric I call “topic mix.”

·         27% Application Development

·         25% Business Intelligence

·         38% Database Administration

·         10% Professional Development or other topics

There are always open issues surrounding our premium annual benefit to our Chapters: one complimentary registration to either the North American Summit or the European Conference each fiscal year (July-June).  For simplicity I will just call this benefit a “Summit comp.”  There is always some misunderstanding that this is not an easy or free benefit for PASS to offer, the actual cost for a Summit comp is high since all the event facilities and food and beverage are all charged per-attendee plus incremental consumption – it adds up quick and requires a lot of allocated budget.  The “issues” come in because PASS is not in the business of applying strict policies to our Chapters, so every year Chapters that are doing a TON for PASS and Chapters that are doing NOTHING for PASS are equally awarded a Summit comp.  Having provided that context, we included this question on the survey: “PASS offers each Chapter [a Chapter comp]. We are reviewing the requirements Chapters must meet to qualify for a registration and want your candid input regarding what those requirements should be. As a dedicated volunteer, what do you think? 

Honestly (and as one might expect) we got a lot of quick answers; perhaps I did not choose the wording well or respondents did not consider the depth of the question.  Some thought we were not doing enough while others thought we needed to be much stricter, the most common response was that the status quo was okay.  (If you are intrigued and would have preferred that I classify, categorize and objectify all the rambling free text responses, just send an email to  and I can send you the detailed almost-raw-but-still-anonymous responses.)

The Regional Mentor (RM) program is critical to Chapter success moving forward and this is a focus area for the second half of 2010, so we wanted to know about RM interaction and asked about that:

·         50% of Chapters that responded have been contacted by their Regional Mentor this year

·         51% of Chapters that responded knew the name of their Regional Mentor

We also asked for any recent Chapter news as well as feedback on the new Chapter Leader Only Pages (CLO Pages), internal sub-site on used to post resources and communicate with Chapter Leaders.  Adoption of the CLO Pages is still cranking up so responses were spotty but overall positive.

Before I wrap up, I want to unscientifically model something for you… just to give you a ballpark feel of the current “reach” of PASS Chapters, their impact on the community.  “Reach” is calculated by multiplying the number of attendees by the number of educational hours.  To use our survey data we can get a ballpark feel for our “reach” by multiplying the average number of attendees by number of meetings in the past 12 months by the number of educational hours. 

I prepped the Q2 survey responses the best I could by making all the ranges discrete for Average Attendance and Meetings in Last 12 Months; and I assumed each meeting delivered one (1) education hour.  That calculation yielded a “reach” of 41,656 educational hours in the last 12 months for the 61% of Chapters that responded; a simple extrapolation to 100% would yield a “reach” of 68,289 educational hours!  Using the topic mix hours reported by each Chapter (I used category averages for Chapters that didn’t provide data) that would break out to:

·         Application Development
10,785 hours (extrapolated to 100% = 17,681 hours)       

·         Business Intelligence
11,090 hours (extrapolated to 100% = 18,180 hours)

·         Database Administration
16,138 hours (extrapolated to 100% = 26,455 hours)

·         Professional Development or other topics 
3,643 hours (extrapolated to 100% = 5,972 hours)

·         Total “Reach” - again 
41,656 hours (extrapolated to 100% = 68,289 hours)

Wow, wasn’t that fun?!

Again, I want to thank all the Chapter Leaders who took the time to respond to the Q2 survey, please be on the lookout for the Q3 survey.  I trust the Q2 survey feedback has been a helpful and interesting look at our Chapters; with each survey we hope to better understand the needs of our Chapters, Chapter Leaders, and members.  Please send me your feedback on these surveys—what items should we be asking about next?

— Douglas

Douglas McDowell
PASS Director of Chapters

Taking the PASS Mission on the Road

I love talking about SQL Server and PASS. Spreading the message of incredible value that they both bring to the lives of database pros has taken me around the globe several times in the past 2 years. (You can trace my PASS-related travels at the end of this post.)
A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of visiting Kathmandu, Nepal, for the first time at the invitation of my friend Allen Bailochan Tuladhar, Country Manager of Microsoft MDP in Nepal. I had heard a lot about Allen's work in the Nepal community and was eager to see it firsthand.

Allen had organized three get-togethers for us: a breakfast with CEOs from local businesses and financial and government organizations, a discussion with area college students, and a session with the local PASS Chapter in Kathmandu. But my visit began with an inspirational tour of Kathmandu and surrounding areas, courtesy of Rumi from Allen's office. We drove to the ancient city of Bhaktapur, a former capital of Nepal with beautiful temples and breathtaking wood, metal, and stonework. I then took Pinal Dave’s advice and visited the Pashupatinath Temple, one of the oldest and holiest Hindu shrines in the world, located on the banks of the Bagmati river in eastern Kathmandu. The heritage and culture at both locations were amazing, and I was even more excited to meet with business leaders and fellow SQL Server enthusiasts from this wonderful area.
The next day, Allen kicked off the CEO breakfast talking about the Top 10 wishes that people have. Interestingly, time travel made the list—I, for one, would love to be able to teleport given my life on airplanes (175k+ miles last year). I then discussed the value that business intelligence could bring to businesses, industry trends, and the value of the Microsoft BI Platform, including SQL Server and Office. I also walked through some high-level demos to illustrate the continuum from managed to self-service BI.

From talking with leaders at the pinnacle of their careers, we then moved to our meeting with students just starting out. I talked to more than 100 enthusiastic technology students representing 5-6 colleges in and around Kathmandu about data, databases, career opportunities in the database profession, and why they should consider learning about the SQL Server platform while in school.

Allen and I highlighted various resources that students could easily take advantage of to learn about SQL Server. I encouraged them to get involved in a local PASS Chapter and get their hands on the platform for free by trying out the SQL Server 2008 R2 Hosted Trial labs at, sponsored by Dell, MaximumASP, Microsoft, and PASS. Allen reminded the students that they have access to free software from Microsoft. He also proposed creating certification study groups to help students achieve certifications. In addition, we talked about the potential of finding mentors for the students from the local SQL Server user group. Allen’s amazing work with students across Nepal to evangelize Microsoft products and build the next generation of users gave me some great ideas for PASS and our local and virtual Chapters.

My last event of the day was a presentation at the Nepal SQL Server Users Group on new self-service reporting and BI features in SQL Server 2008 R2. After the presentation and an active Q&A session, we had a great time socializing and networking over tea and snacks.
My day ended perfectly with dinner at the Nepali Chulo, a traditional restaurant with colorful décor and traditional Nepalese music and dances. I left for Mumbai the next morning with wonderful memories of magical places and warm and friendly people excited about how SQL Server and PASS can improve their businesses and their careers.

The work Allen is doing in Nepal to evangelize SQL Server and other Microsoft products is fantastic, and I look forward to more interaction with the Nepal SQL Server community in the future. And whether you’re on the road for business or pleasure, I encourage you to make time to visit a local PASS Chapter and connect with fellow SQL Server community members. We have a lot to learn from—and share with—each other.
—Rushabh Mehta
PASS President
A quick look at the Chapters, SQLSaturdays, and other PASS events I’ve spoken at in the past 2 years:
Sri Lanka SQL Server User Group, Colombo (Feb ’10)
Burlington, Vermont UG (Mar ’10)
SQLSaturday #33, Charlotte, NC (Mar ’10)
Tampa SQL BI UG (Mar ’10)
PASS European Conference, Neuss, Germany (Apr ’10)
24 Hours of PASS (May ’10)
Nepal SQL Server UG (May ’10)
SQLSaturday #22 Pensacola, FL (Jun ’10)
SQLSaturday #10, Tampa (Jan ’09)
Sri Lanka CEO Forum (Jan ’09)
SQL Server UG, Ottawa, Canada (Mar ’09)
PASS European Conference, Dusseldorf (Apr ’09)
SQL Server UG, Sarasota, FL (Apr ’09)
SQL Server UG, Ahmedabad, India (May ’09)
Sri Lanka Technology Forum (Jun ’09)
PASS BI SIG Live Meeting (Jul ’09)
SQL Server UG, Toronto, Canada (Oct ’09)
PASS Summit 2009 (Nov ’09)

Important PASS Community News: a farewell to Blythe

I have difficult news to share with the PASS community:  After careful consideration Blythe Morrow is leaving PASS HQ.  Blythe's time with PASS officially ends on July 1 and she will be moving back to Edmonton, Alberta to be closer to her family. 
Blythe has spent the last two years of her career as our Community Programs Coordinator working closely with Greg Low and myself as well as most of you reading this.  During her tenure she has been instrumental in facilitating incredible growth, instituting new governance and support programs, and most importantly helping us all to realize how much fun PASS can be.  While PASS will continue to thrive and succeed certainly our individual experiences will be a little different without Blythe.
While no transition is easy, we are being placed into very capable hands.  Over the last three months Blythe and Nancy Nasso have been working together, Nancy has quickly become a strong contributor to numerous PASS community functions and projects and will be working to assume other duties and responsibilities prior to Blythe’s departure.
Thank you all for your support and appreciation of Blythe over the last two years, please make a point to reach out to her directly to thank her and wish her well.  Also thank you for your flexibly and new appreciation for Nancy as she steps up during the next weeks and months.


Douglas McDowell
PASS Director of Chapters

SQL Server 2008 R2 Launch: US Tour Kicks Off May 4th 2010 in DC!

More than 18 months ago when many of us first heard about SQL Server 2008 R2 it sounded like it might be just a big service pack or just adding some bolt-ons so that some SharePoint/Office 2010 features could work with SQL Server – maybe not unlike SQL Server 2005 SP2 that let us first run Reporting Services in Integrated Mode with SharePoint 2007.  But as we have crept closer to the release of R2, started to work with the Betas and CTPs we discovered it represents some significant new features (Application and Multi-server Management, StreamInsight, PowerPivot for Excel/SharePoint 2010, Report Builder 3.0, Reporting Services shared components and advanced data visualizations) as well as more-than-service-pack version maturity and stability… And now that R2 has released we can participate in Launch hoopla similar to full-version releases. 

Microsoft has partnered with PASS to assemble an impressive R2 Launch Tour, you can find the full roster here:

I personally had the opportunity to participate in the R2 Launch event collocated with TechDays 2010 in Lisbon April 20-22, I was part of the April 21 keynote where it was announced that SQL Server 2008 R2 had been released to manufacturing (RTM) and I announced the formation of the first Portuguese PASS Chapter: SQLPort.  In a similar vein, on Tuesday May 4, I attended the first US R2 Launch Event hosted in the nation’s capital: Washington, DC! 

The DC event had a noticeable air to it: a mixture of energy and the sense of arrival.  Event excitement (attendees, speakers, event team) coupled with the sheer enjoyment of presenting a new product release.  It was a bit of a reunion for those of us that have been on past launch circuits (i.e. Fever and Planes) as well as those of us working hard leading up to the R2 release… the halls were lined with the familiar faces of Microsoft and community stakeholders assuring they witness this kickoff event. 

Each Launch event is hosted by a local PASS chapter, the Northern Virginia SQL Server Users Group ( hosted the DC event and Chapter Leader Jim Rotan welcomed the attendees and introduced the keynote speaker, Stefan Ropers.   Stefan covered Microsoft’s Data Platform Vision along with an introduction to SQL Server 2008 R2.  Herain Oberoi followed with deeper introductions to the three “pillars” of R2: Trusted & Scalable Platform, Managed Self-Service BI, and IT & Developer Efficiency.  The rest of the day was made up of breakout session separated into tracks—each with three sessions—for DBA, BI and ITDM (IT Decision Maker); unique to the DC event, there was also a forth Federal Government-targeted track.  The DBA track included sessions on Business Continuity (SQL2008R2, Win2008, Hyper-V Live Migration), R2 Multi-server Management, and SQL Server 2008 R2 Parallel Data Warehouse.  The BI track covered PowerPivot for Excel/SharePoint 2010, Reporting Services and Report Builder 3.0, and Master Data Management.  The ITDM sessions were: SQL Azure, Oracle to SQL Server 2008 R2 Migration, and BI Consolidation.  Overall the event started and ended well, interest and feedback from the attendees was positive and as I ducked in and out of various sessions throughout the day I saw that most everyone stayed for the entire event. 

If you can locate an event within striking distance (use schedule link above), I would recommend you make plans to attend an R2 Launch, there is enough high-quality varied content offered that you should be able to make a full day for yourself regardless of if you have only just learned of SQL Server 2008 R2 or if you have been working with it since beta cycles. 

After revving up with Launch you can access ongoing R2 education through many PASS channels:


Douglas McDowell
PASS Director of Chapters

Virtual Chapter volunteers make PASS a great place to Connect, Share and Learn

In addition to all the physical chapter initiatives we’re working on, Douglas and I have been busy behind the scenes with the Virtual Chapter Portfolio.

We have some of PASS’s best volunteers working with us to make our virtual educational presence a success. These events are largely marketed by the volunteers themselves and illustrate how SQL Server Community volunteers really drive the PASS organization to success. Every month the Virtual Chapter Leaders log into a leadership conference call with Douglas and I, and we brainstorm how to make this portfolio better and more dynamic. There have been some truly amazing ideas this year, and we feel the need to give credit where it is due:

  • Brent Ozar, our Virtualization Virtual Chapter Leader, started the year by encouraging PASS VCs to search out sponsorship from the Community’s many corporate participants. We have since signed on sponsors for 3 Virtual Chapters, created all of our process documents, and have a working model for the portfolio
  • Aaron Nelson, PASS Application Development VC volunteer,  pioneered the Virtual Chapter marketing checklist, and working with the PASS marketing team, pulled all the VCs together to standardize a process of letting our members know about the Virtual Chapter meetings
  • David Taylor with the help of his Application Development VC had the first Virtual Chapter meeting with a physical Chapter, The Adelaide SQL Server User Group. With Speaker Aaron Nelson in Atlanta, the session took place in both virtual and physical space. We hope this will set the stage for future meetings and chapter support
  • The Women in Technology VC has infiltrated SQLSaturday! lead by Wendy Pastrick and Denise McInerney and starting with SQLSaturday #41 in Atlanta, the WIT VC are supporting local WIT sessions in hopes of encouraging more women to enter IT professions
  • We've also focused a lot of the year on mentoring and continuity within our volunteer resources. We have quite a few volunteers who started as a steering committee members, and through effective mentorship, have moved into leading their own groups. Amoung them include Jorge Segarra (Professional Development), Tim Mitchell and Jeff Rush (BI), and Tim Edwards (Performance). All in the past 3 months! 

We have accomplished so much in the first quarter with the Virtual Chapter portfolio and hope to keep the momentum rolling.  Want to start a virtual chapter or volunteer for an existing one? It’s hard work, but incredibly rewarding. Let me know via email if you’re interested.

Thanks all!

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PASS Chapters - First quarter hurdles and milestones

Hello everyone,

Douglas and I have both been hard at work, pulling in everyone we can to make the PASS Chapter Portfolio a more valuable place for User Groups. We realized we’ve been pretty quiet over the last couple months, so we thought we would give you an update on everything happening. It sure hasn’t felt quiet here at PASSHQ!

We are currently at 211 official PASS Chapters as of today, a growth of 11 full chapters since the November Summit. In addition to the increased growth, we met with all of PASS’s Regional Mentors to introduce them to the new Chapter Direction and to outline the new Regional Mentor resources we created. Both Douglas and I continue to meet with the Regional Mentor teams to help them reach out to their groups, listen to what their chapter leaders need from PASS, and work to make regional communities successful. We are so excited about the enthusiasm the Mentors are giving to this new direction. Interested in who they are? You can see their smiling faces on our chapter pages.

Also, here are some little projects we are working on to bring the chapter portfolio through the first quarter of 2010:
• We have outlined PASS’s value proposition to its user groups on the website.
• We are working with the Microsoft SQL Server Product group to deliver on the SQL Server 2008 R2 Community Led Events. If you have a local user group in your area, you can put on one of these PASS-Microsoft sponsored events.
• The European Conference is upon us, starting on April 21st and we are mobilizing the European community to connect, share and learn. We hope to help the European PASS Community be as strong and cohesive as their North American counterparts. More details to follow in a few short weeks.
• The first chapter leader survey has gone out to all PASS User Group leaders. Check out Douglas’ Connector article for our findings as we try to bridge the gap between the chapter leaders and the PASS organization.

And that’s just the first quarter! I will keep you updated as events unfold.

All the best

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Chapters Vision for 2010

It is March already, and I have been spending all my PASS time in 2010 talking to Chapter Leaders and Regional Mentors about what we are doing in the Chapters portfolio in 2010. Now I’d like to get a broader update out to the community about what we are doing and the exciting things we have planned.

Chapters Vision for 2010: 3 Key Goals
Since my time as a leader of Atlanta.mdf (Atlanta, Georgia’s PASS Chapter) and as one of the first PASS Regional Mentors, I’ve had a passion for working with local chapters. So serving as the director of Chapters (virtual and physical) for PASS is an honor and a real treat for me.

Under the leadership of Greg Low, Blythe Morrow, and the Chapters Committee over the past 2 years, we’ve experienced phenomenal growth in the number of PASS Chapters around the world. We had 205 Chapters in 50+ countries as of January 2010, which is a 57% growth compared to the same time last year. And thanks to Thomas LaRock’s work in helping transition our Special Interest Groups (SIGs) to Virtual Chapters last summer, we currently have seven Virtual Chapters and have witnessed a huge ramp-up in free virtual training from many of those groups.

While continuing to build on that momentum and growth in numbers for 2010, we also want to make sure that all our Chapters are healthy, active, and growing in value to meet the needs of their members. In that spirit, we have three over-arching goals this year: Sustainability, Infrastructure, and Increased Value Proposition.

Launching a Chapter and keeping it going—and going strong—is hard work. For new Chapters, we need to assure that they are set up properly and that they have the support and information they need to start off on the right foot and survive those crucial early months. Existing Chapters go through rough times, too—experiencing peaks and valleys. So we need to be there for them as well, whether they need resources to help grow programs even more or push past a membership plateau or whether they are facing serious problems.

Our sustainability strategy includes providing a rich set of resources, leveraging the wisdom of our experienced Chapter Leaders, Regional Mentors, other volunteers, and PASS headquarters (HQ) resources. How to successfully set up a Chapter, best practices for running and  growing a Chapter, resources for finding speakers and sponsors, and other intellectual property will be readily available online. Plus, we are strengthening our Regional Mentors Program even more, working through those key PASS ambassadors to provide key communications and support to chapters in their area and feed the needs and ideas of their Chapters back to PASS.

A strong, effective infrastructure is essential for sustainability at the Chapter level. Both our people and our technology assets are critical infrastructure focus areas.  We are evaluating how to support and align our Regional Mentors to provide a more robust and scalable program that meets Chapter Leader and membership needs.

PASS HQ is expanding the team responsible for community-related support, so Blythe will not be constantly treading water trying to stay on top of it all by herself. In the area of technology, we have a few projects in the queue: We are on the verge of rolling out a sub-site on that will be dedicated to Chapter Leaders, housing announcements, content/IP, and other resources all in one place. In late 2010 or 2011, we want to make Chapter webhosting more robust with added event management and membership email capabilities (announcements/newsletters). Internally, we will add infrastructure to transition to a Chapter management database (so we can get away from current tools like Google Docs).

Increased Value Proposition
Communicating and expanding the value that PASS brings to Chapters is critical for attracting new Chapters and for improving the quality and strength of all Chapters. The first step here is creating a comprehensive inventory of all the benefits we provide Chapters. That list currently includes the free webhosting I mentioned earlier, a Live Meeting and TechNet subscription from Microsoft UGSS, event sponsorship and program support, a free Chapter Leader registration to one PASS conference per year, access to the Chapter Leader Listserver, PASS Regional Mentor support, and more.

Through the Regional Mentors and a full set of helpful Chapter Welcome Kits and Resource Kits, we’ll communicate everything that’s available to our Chapters and how they can access those benefits. Then we’ll loop back with Chapters around the world to explore how PASS can continue to expand its value proposition.

Thanks for what's ahead...
It’s going to be an exciting year. We are trying to move a lot forward at once, and we are starting to gain momentum. I look forward to working side-by-side with our dedicated volunteers and PASS staff to support our Chapters as they serve the SQL Server technical community. Thanks to each of you for your work!

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