Category: PASS General

Changes to the 2015 PASS Board Elections

June 24, 2015--The 2014 NomCom was tasked to streamline the process for evaluating candidates as well as to enhance community engagement.

The 2015 elections cycle will highlight those changes.

We’ve expanded the minimum criteria for candidates to identify the skills, experience, and qualifications needed to help set the strategic direction for PASS. Here are the minimum criteria needed for candidates to be considered to move to the interview round:
• Be a current eligible voting member of PASS
• Have direct volunteer experience with PASS
• Work with one of the Microsoft data technologies
• Be free of conflict of interest that would affect eligibility
• Be fluent in written and spoken English
• Agree to the time and travel commitments required to serve on the PASS Board of Directors
• Submit three references with a statement of support

In addition, to enhance community engagement and give voters an opportunity to make a more educated vote, the NomCom has made a change to the way candidates will be weighted and publication of that weighting. If an applicant meets the outlined minimum criteria, they will move to the interview round. Each applicant will then be interviewed based on categories to measure the strength of their candidacy. No overall ranking will be published; instead an aggregate score for each category will be published. This will give the community transparency on the strength of each applicant in each category and will provide more information for members to make an educated vote. Look for the 2015 PASS Board of Directors application August 5 on the PASS Elections page, which will outline all the minimum criteria in more detail. See the full details of the 2014 NomCom changes to the 2015 PASS Board elections here.

2015 NomCom

The NomCom is a five-member committee that manages the PASS Board of Directors elections process, qualifying, interviewing and weighting potential candidates. A final slate is then submitted to the Board for approval.

Immediate Past President Bill Graziano will chair this year’s NomCom, which will include three elected representatives reflecting the three seats up for the PASS Board this year: one EMEA seat, one US/Canada seat, and one open seat. A representative appointed by the PASS Board will round up the committee.

Who’s Eligible to Run?

To be eligible to run for the NomCom, candidates must have a demonstrable track record of volunteering with PASS – such as serving as a Regional Mentor, Chapter or Virtual Chapter Leader, or Program Committee member – and participating in other volunteer endeavors. Note that as an essential part of the PASS Board elections process, the NomCom requires significant time and effort. By applying for the NomCom, applicants agree to the time commitments of the entire general elections process, including Board applicant interviews.

Inside the PASS Board's May Meeting

June 23, 2015 — I wanted to take a minute to offer a recap of our May 15th meeting. The focus of the meeting was to review the “lessons learned” materials regarding the 2015 PASS Business Analytics conference. The discussion was led by Jen Stirrup, Director of the PASS Business Analytics portfolio. Here are the highlights from that discussion.

Jen reviewed the growing industry trends for Business Analytics and how PASS can play a critical role in that community. Organizations need people who understand data in a variety of ways (curation, administration, management, custodian, and analysis). Business analytics enables companies to incorporate data-drive decision making. PASS is well positioned to offering learning opportunities for members to expand their current roles into new careers, as well as offer companies seeking BA practitioners a place to find talented data professionals.

The PASS Business Analytics Conference 2015 presented the right content for its audience. A review of attendee titles show that the conference attracted and engaged its intended audience. According to a sponsor survey from the conference, 87% of exhibitors and sponsors are interested in future PASS BA conferences.

The Board heard from PASS HQ representatives about the opportunity that PASS has to support the BA community. With Gartner predicting in excess of 4 million analytics jobs by the end of this year many companies are struggling to find talent. People who work in data with a focus on the Microsoft data platform want to learn methods for making data-based decisions. PASS can help to foster this community and present content to support those needs.

PASS is working hard to determine the best venue and logistics for future BA conference events. The Board discussed potential options as well as resources and strategic direction.

A full review of the PASS BA 2015 conference will be held at the in-person June Board meeting in Vancouver, Canada. For more details about the May meetings, see the posted minutes on the PASS Governance page. Also, keep an eye on the BA Insights and Connector newsletters and on this blog, for news from the next Board meeting.

As always, stay in touch by contacting us. We welcome any and all feedback!

Thomas LaRock
PASS President

PASS Town Hall Q&A Webcast

June 18, 2015--The second quarterly Town Hall Q&A webcast took place on May 27, with more than 70 people in attendance. Thomas LaRock welcomed the audience and spoke about how the Board is continually looking at facilitating two-way communication within the community and how to contact the Board on the SQL PASS website. Before kicking off the session, Thomas introduced the panel:

    • Denise McInerney: PASS VP, Marketing (and moderator)
    • Amy Lewis: PASS Board Director at Large, Programs
    • Jennifer Moser: PASS Board, Microsoft-related questions
    • Lance Harra: Lead Program Manager, PASS Program Committee

With a focus on the Summit Speaker Selection process, the one-hour long webcast included an overview from myself (Amy Lewis, PASS Board of Director at large, Programs) on the process and timing from this year’s committee along with a considerable number of questions from the attendees for the Program Committee and the Board.

I thanked the panel and the program committee team and then summarized the committee’s processes for speaker selection.

In late January or early February, the Program Committee conducts a Call for Volunteers. Volunteers play a critical role in evaluating abstracts and helping to select community speakers. A total of 70 volunteers work together from mid-March until Summit. After the Call for Speakers closes in mid-March, the volunteers are broken into four teams:

Speaker Review Team: This team of eight volunteers review credentials, experience, and past attendee feedback to qualify speakers. This year, a total of 285 people submitted abstracts for Summit 2015, and the team goes through and rates each possible speaker. After all scores are submitted, the Speaker Review Team provides the Program Managers with the rankings.

Abstract Review Team: This team is tasked with reviewing the 886 abstracts submitted by the 285 potential speakers. Abstracts are reviewed by a minimum of three people. The team is divided into smaller teams for each of the five learning tracks and review accordingly. Feedback is given to every single abstract. The abstract review team first rates the abstract (without any speaker information or speakerID). After the teams have rated all the abstracts, they are tasked with ranking the abstracts for each track and recommending sessions to the Program Development Team.

The Program Committee offers guidance on the need for diversity of topics and speakers. At the outset, each speaker is assigned a speakerID number to maintain anonymity during scoring. Scorers can see whether they have ranked or recommended multiple abstracts from the same speakerID within a particular track, but they don’t know who that speaker is. This provides the team enough visibility to evaluate sessions and speakers for balance.

Program Development Team (Program Managers/Director): From May until the beginning of June, the program is built. The contributing factors include:

    • Rankings and recommendations from the individual teams
    • Topic, speaker, and session level
    • Repeat sessions from prior year
    • Session types (Pre-cons, Lightning talks, Half-day sessions, General sessions, and Labs)
    • Duplicate sessions
    • Depth and breadth of sessions across all tracks

After the Program Development team builds the Program, submitters are notified of their session status and, as of last year, are sent feedback on their abstract. After all submitters are notified, the community sessions are announced publicly by the end of June.

Special Project Team: From July onwards, the Special Project Team looks at the learning paths, predicting room assignment to ensure that rooms are not overcrowded and improving the schedule builder to be useful to both attendees and PASS Summit Operations teams.

Microsoft Sessions: Around early August, the Program Development Team works with Microsoft to understand what it wants to present and to ensure there is no overlap between Microsoft and the community sessions. This partnership has led to a more cohesive program where both the community and Microsoft sessions build upon and complement one another, leading to a fantastic and well-rounded program.

The Program Team is always open to feedback and ways to improve the Selection Process and the PASS Summit Program. We received feedback over the past year, and some of those changes were implemented this year:

    • In the process to review abstracts and the workflows for the team leads, all abstracts across all teams are now reviewed by at least three people.
    • The speaker profile was updated to allow for the submitter to list all their PASS and non-PASS presentation history. We are also working with IT to incorporate a lot of the SQLSaturday, Virtual Chapter, and User Group speaking events. We have been waiting until the rebuild of the SQLSaturday site is completed so that we can incorporate that functionality automatically. We wanted to be sure speakers could do that this year so we have implemented a table where you can add your speaker history. We added the video review, which was a request from the Speaker Review Team, so we can see samples of people speaking.
    • Improvements to the speaker resource page included updating the handbook, adding an FAQ page, and improving the process for the team leads.
    • Finally, the Program Team has improved the communication with the team leads through weekly calls and is working closely with PASS HQ and IT. Marcella and Leeza at PASS HQ were recognized for their support and commitment.

Amy introduced Lance Harra and explained that he has volunteered with the Program Team for 10 years and this year was promoted to Lead Program Manager.  In addition, Mindy Curnutt and Angela Henry have joined the Program Management Team to lead all the Program-related efforts throughout the year.

With an overview of the team and their responsibilities complete, the Q&A commenced with questions from the community. The full recording is available here. Look for more information about the next Q&A on the Board Contact Us page and in the Connector as we head into the next quarter.

Amy Lewis
PASS Board Member, Programs

24 Hours of PASS: Growing our Community

June 16--Next week, beginning 12:00 (noon) GMT on June 24, PASS will present the 24 Hours of PASS: Growing our Community: 24 one-hour online webinars by talented speakers. The event will deliver SQL Server and BI best practices, expert tips, and demos from around the world, spread across these subject areas: 

  • Application & Database Development
  • BI Information Delivery
  • BI Platform Architecture, Development & Administration
  • Cloud Application Development & Deployment
  • Enterprise Database Administration & Deployment
Professional Development


The sessions are free but each is limited to 1000 registrants, so advanced registration is important. Follow us by using the #pass24hop hashtag on social media. 

PASS Executive Board Elections

June 16, 2015--The PASS Board of Directors meeting in Vancouver June 2 and 3 was the site of the 2016 PASS Executive Committee elections. We’re happy to announce your ExecCo, who will take their seats in January 2016: Thomas LaRock as Immediate Past President; Adam Jorgensen as President; James Rowland-Jones as Executive Vice President, Finance & Governance; and Denise McInerney as Vice President, Marketing.

Bill Graziano, current Immediate Past President, will conclude his term in December 2015. Bill has been an active member of the PASS community since 2001, having served five terms on the Board, including Director at Large in 2006/2007. Since 2008, he has sat on the Executive and has served in all four positions within the ExecCo. The PASS Board acknowledges and thanks Bill for his commitment and unwavering support to the PASS organization.

2016-2017 Immediate Past President: Thomas LaRock

PASS President Thomas LaRock will complete his current term (through the end of this year) and then assume the role of Immediate Past President. 

Thomas first attended PASS Summit in Orlando in 2004, joining the PASS community at that time. He joined the Board in 2009 and served one term as a Director at Large. He joined the Executive in 2012 as Vice President, Marketing and became President in 2014.

Thomas will chair the Nominations Committee (NomCom) for the 2016 and 2017 elections cycle as Immediate Past President. He will remain a valuable member of the Executive managing special projects. 

2016-2017 President: Adam Jorgensen

By unanimous vote, current Executive VP, Finance & Governance Adam Jorgensen was elected as the next PASS President and will assume the role in January. 

Adam has been a member of PASS since 2004, he joined the Board in 2012 and served one term as a Director at Large. As a leader of SQL Server and business intelligence organizations for more than a decade, he is passionate about encouraging and supporting innovation and busting through obstacles to implementation. At the meeting, Adam spoke to the Board about the importance of getting community members involved with PASS—and with PASS leadership.

”We [the Board] have an opportunity to make sure that the PASS organization is sustainable for the long term,” said Adam. “I’m interested in identifying leaders within the community; developing those individuals to assume leadership opportunities and ensuring that they are ready to assume the responsibility that comes with the Board. I believe that we need to remove roadblocks, and improve and formalize our processes for getting the best possible people involved in PASS.” 

Adam aims to improve communication with the PASS community to encourage balance, diversity, and commitment. And he spoke to the ways that PASS can offer benefits that grow with the Microsoft data platform. 

“The point of the Board is to represent the community it serves,” he noted. “That includes all data professionals. We need a vision; we need to find opportunities to help the Virtual Chapter and Chapter Leaders grow membership, involvement, and leadership. And with regards to the business analytics community, we need to define and focus our support efforts.”

2016-2017 Executive Vice President, Finance & Governance: James Rowland-Jones

The Board voted unanimously to elect James Rowland-Jones as next term’s Executive VP, Finance & Governance. JRJ has served two terms on the Board, with his first term supporting Global Growth and most recently as the Director of Special Projects. He looks forward to enriching and standardizing the visibility of PASS’ governance policies and working to support and improve the organization’s financial stability. 

JRJ emphasized the importance of collaboration, partnership, and shared learning. In the role of Executive VP, Finance & Governance, he encouraged other Board members to join him in the opportunity to set the framework for the future of the organization and to gain exposure to the role and its responsibilities.

JRJ’s focus is on articulating the opportunities and benefits of being involved with PASS and with the PASS Board, as well as working with our Global Growth Initiatives to support data professionals worldwide. “It’s important for the health and value of the organization,” he pointed out. “We have to think about the community as a living, breathing thing, and it’s our job to support and enrich it.”

2016-2017 Vice President, Marketing: Denise McInerney

The Board voted unanimously to re-elect VP, Marketing Denise McInerney to her current position. After 10 years as an active PASS member, Denise joined the Board in 2012 and first served as Director of Virtual Chapters. In her first year as VP, Marketing, she also chaired the Business Analytics Planning Committee. She is excited about the opportunity to continue her work on PASS’ communication and event initiatives.

“We’ve begun to take steps to get out the PASS message in an accessible, consistent way,” Denise said. “We have begun to talk about the opportunities for and accessibility of professional development and leadership, and we want to continue to do that. The Board Q&A at Summit was a start; the community town halls, the blog posts … we will continue to develop these vehicles.”

Denise emphasized the importance of better understanding PASS resources and of tailoring them to the community as it stands today and as it grows with ever-evolving technology and business demands. “With the Business Analytics Conference, we are on the right track,” she said. “The data world is changing and Microsoft is signaling that to us through all the changes to the data platform. We owe some attention to that content, as we think about our core SQL Server community, where their careers are headed, and the educational content that we need to bring to them.”

Inside the PASS Board’s April Meeting

May 13, 2015 – At the April PASS Board of Directors meeting, held April 9, attendees heard an update on the Business Analytics Conference 2015 and on PASS IT priorities. PASS Summit 2015 speaker selection methods were discussed, along with a reminder that it’s budget season. Here’s a quick rundown of the April meeting.

Business Analytics and the PASS Community Vision
PASS Vice President of Marketing and SQL Server MVP Denise McInerney recapped the goals of the Business Analytics Conference: to build a community of business analytics professionals and data professionals who realize the value of business analytics. She reported on attendance of the 2015 conference, as well as statistics regarding the ratio of new to return attendees, effective communication channels, and challenges and lessons learned regarding attempts to reach the target audience. She also outlined the onsite attendee experience for the Board.

Upcoming Budget Preparations and IT Updates
Adam Jorgensen, Executive Vice President of Finance & Governance, reminded the Board that the FY 2016 Budget will be reviewed at the June in-person Board meeting and the necessary steps to prepare for that meeting.

A PASS HQ representative also reviewed current IT priorities and the progress of the SQLSaturday website updates.

Watch for the recap of our May meeting soon. In the meantime, let the Board know if you have questions, comments, or ideas.

– Thomas LaRock
PASS President

I Do Not Choose To Run

by Thomas LaRock

Originally posted: link

In just a few weeks’ time I will travel to Vancouver to attend a PASS Board of Directors meeting. During that meeting the Board will hold our biennial officer elections. I wanted to take a brief moment of your time today to discuss these elections.

I will spare you the details of the PASS bylaws with regard to the officer elections. You can read all about them here if you want. The bylaws lack certain context, and that context is what I want you to understand today.

Years ago the process for officer election was simple. A person would serve two years as VP of Marketing, two years as VP of Finance, two years as President, and finally two years as Immediate Past President (IPP). That’s eight total years just as an officer. Folks were on the Board for ten years (or longer). The burnout rate towards the end of their service was noticeable.

During my early years on the Board we modified the bylaws to allow for a “shorter cycle”. We allowed for a candidate to be eligible to serve as President after just one term in either finance or marketing. By shortening the officer cycle to six years we wanted to avoid the burnout that comes in the last few years.

That bylaw change was not done to allow for one person to serve four years as President, even if eligible. That was not the intent then, and it is not my intent today.

I will not seek election for another term as President of PASS.

It has been my honor to serve you these past seven years on the Board. I’ve put a lot of energy and passion into service for PASS ever since I met Wayne Snyder in Orlando in 2004, and it’s been worth the extra effort.

I thank everyone for their support throughout the years. We’ve shared a lot of ups and downs together, and I would like to think I helped to make things better than how I found them.

I will move into the role of IPP where I expect to remain engaged for the next two years. There I will continue my efforts to help as many people connect, share, and learn from one another.

We’ve got a lot of work to get done still in 2015 and beyond.

Let’s go get it done, together.

Thomas LaRock

PASS Voting Eligibility and Upcoming Elections

May 7, 2015 – During the 2014 election cycle, the PASS Board established specific eligibility requirements for voting in the PASS elections. These requirements are designed to help de-duplicate member data for eligible voters before ballot notifications are sent. Specific mandatory fields have been added to the myProfile section of to help us better serve the community.

To cast a ballot, members must complete all mandatory fields in their myPASS profile. PASS members who have not completed their profile will receive a reminder to update their myPASS profile to be eligible to vote. Your profile must be completed by 11:59 pm PDT June 1, 2015 to guarantee eligibility to cast ballots in the 2015 PASS elections.   

Don’t miss your chance to vote in the PASS elections! To confirm your eligibility, please log into your myPASS account to look for the follow eligibility stamp:

PASS is your organization. Thank you for helping to shape its future by participating in the elections process. 

–Bill Graziano
Immediate Past President

SQLSaturday Website Update Timeline

As per my blog post on April 9 regarding the SQLSaturday website, the good news is that we’re back online. So far, feedback on the site has been overwhelmingly positive. 

I first want to thank everyone for their patience last week: the organizers and sponsors who couldn’t access the site during the downtime, as well as the community members who have been waiting to hear what happened. As with any issue like this, our main priority was to rectify the situation. Therefore, we felt it best to wait until the site relaunched and all security vulnerabilities were fixed before sharing more specific details. 

But of course, full transparency is important to us and to you. Now that we’re up and running again, here is the timeline of events that occurred over the past week: 

  • • On Monday, April 6, we were alerted to a potential security vulnerability that exposed the contact information (address, city, region, and twitter handle) of some sponsors. We immediately removed this information and decided to take down the entire sponsor page for further testing. The security of information regarding our community and sponsors is of the utmost importance to us, so we wanted to conduct a thorough review of the entire website, not just that specific issue.

  • • By Monday night, we had decided to take the entire SQLSaturday site offline. We chose this option, rather than a rollback, because at the time, we estimated a rollback effort to be more time-consuming than simply taking the site offline and implementing the fix. In addition, we didn’t want to risk losing any new or changed data. We were able to minimize impact as best we could for the upcoming SQLSaturday events over the weekend of the 11th and 12th by providing access to the admin sites for the Huntington Beach and Madison SQLSaturday events. 

  • • The morning of Tuesday, April 7, we decided to ask community members for testing support. Our community comprises some of the best and brightest minds in the industry and it made sense to involve the users of the site in further testing. 

  • • The patch was completed by Tuesday night, making the site ready for testing by volunteers on Wednesday.

  • • During the testing on Wednesday, April 8, a second potential vulnerability—an HTML injection vulnerability—was identified. Because of the seriousness of this potential issue, we decided Wednesday afternoon to keep the site offline for another day so that we could thoroughly research and correct the issue and complete final testing. As we began delving into the issue, we discovered that it also existed in the old site. So again, a rollback was not an option.

  • • The problem was fixed late Wednesday night.

  • • On Thursday, April 9, PASS IT and community-member testing was complete.

  • • Satisfied with the security and usability of the site, we relaunched Thursday at 9:30pm EST.


PASS apologizes for this outage and for the difficulties it created for the SQLSaturday organizers, sponsors, speakers, and attendees. We thank those who provided feedback on the issues and the volunteers who stepped in to help test the solutions, particularly K. Brian Kelley (blog | @kbriankelley), Denny Cherry (blog | @mrdenny), and Argenis Fernandez (blog | @DBArgenis). To help prevent a similar issue in the future, we are looking at more extensive QA processes with a specific focus on ensuring site security. Although I believe we made the best possible decisions along this timeline, we will certainly take a different approach to future site revisions, including but not limited to earlier and wider security-based and functional testing by our volunteer experts and progressive change schedules. 

Again, thank you for your patience. If you have any further feedback or questions, please email us at

Tim Ford 
PASS Board of Directors 

SQLSaturday Website Update

As many of you may be aware, this week PASS launched the new SQLSaturday website. 

Shortly after launching the site we were notified of a security vulnerability which meant that sponsor’s contact details (company or individual name, twitter handle, address, and zip/postal code) were all visible. The intention of this information being available was to streamline the process for sponsors to sign up for an event without having to re-enter their details each time. However, given some of our Sponsors use their home address as contact information there were concerns at having this information publicly available on the site. This information was immediately taken down and out of an abundance of caution we also made the decision to conduct a full assessment to ensure no other issues existed. 

During testing an additional security vulnerability was discovered – it was found that parts of the SQLSaturday website were exposed to HTML injection, which in this case, could allow a hacker to execute HTML and/or Javascript from the session abstract page. With the structure of the SQLSaturday website, abstract submissions will be continuously open, increasing the risks associated with this vulnerability. Further application of fixes to this issue and re-testing caused a further delay in the anticipated turnaround time for the re-launch. 

This afternoon after rigorous testing by PASS IT and volunteers from the community we are pleased to announce the site is live again. 

Further detail on the actions and decisions surrounding this event will be made available in the coming days. 

We thank you for your continued patience and understanding throughout this time and look forward to providing an enhanced experience for event organizers, attendees, speakers and sponsors of SQLSaturdays with the new site going forward. Again we would like to thank everyone who was involved in the vision, planning, feedback and testing of the site.  

- Tim Ford
PASS Director, SQLSaturdays