January 6, 2015 – The PASS Regional Mentor program is all about providing trusted counsel, sharing ideas, and encouraging and supporting local Chapter Leaders and event organizers. From facilitating new Chapter launches and sharing ideas on how to market and grow local user groups to helping chapters find speakers, sponsors, and host a SQLSaturday event in their city, these dedicated volunteer “coaches” are charged with helping build a stronger data community around the world.
Over the past three years, we’ve been making minor adjustments to the RM program to fine-tune processes and provide RMs useful resources, help with consistency across regions, and provide better support to local leaders. Last month, we sent a survey to Chapter Leaders, asking for their feedback on how their RMs, and the program overall, were working for them.
With 18 of PASS’s 19 regions providing input, we were pleased to find that over 75% of respondents say their RMs have been very to somewhat helpful. According to the survey results, 42% of the Chapter Leaders are hearing from their RMs either monthly or bi-monthly, with another 23% hearing from their RMs at least quarterly. But there’s still room for improvement, with a little over 10% of Chapter Leaders feeling that their RMs are not very helpful and some saying they don’t hear from their RMs.
With the Chapter Leaders’ feedback, as well as input from RMs during their annual meeting at PASS Summit 2014 in November, we’ve identified some changes we think will not only help make this program even more valuable to Chapters and local events but will also enhance the volunteer RM role as a key stepping stone to other potential PASS leadership opportunities, including running for the PASS Board of Directors.
Here are the changes we’re making to the RM program for 2015:
- All RMs will now live in the region they represent. We believe we have a large enough volunteer pool now to meet this requirement.
- When assigning RMs for a region, we will make sure to choose representatives from various parts of the region to provide better geographic coverage. Again, with the growing number of PASS volunteers, this should be easy to achieve.
- RM candidates who have prior Chapter leadership experience, have served on a Chapter Board, or have worked to organize a SQLSaturday event will be preferred over candidates without this experience.
- We will prefer RMs willing to serve in this volunteer leadership role exclusively for the duration of the assignment, although in some areas we understand that this might not be possible due to limited volunteer resources.
- We will be doing an annual renewal for each RM, based on reports from Chapter Leaders, fellow RMs, and HQ.
- In the US, we received some feedback about the alignment of states within regions. Based on that input, we are shifting some states to create a new Mountain region and moving some other states around within existing regions*. We’ve also increased or reduced the number of RMs in certain areas, based on local needs.
- As part of our commitment to helping RMs succeed, we will be meeting with them bi-monthly and providing a monthly summary of PASS initiatives and other resources and tools to help RMs provide better support for Chapter and SQLSaturday leaders in their region.
PASS is built on the shoulders of its strong volunteer community, devoted to helping fellow data professionals around the world Connect, Share, and Learn. And we want to say a special Thank You to all of our hardworking, dedicated RMs for the time, effort, and passion they share with Chapter Leaders and event organizers in their area.
We are excited about the improved service and support as well as the additional opportunities these changes will bring to the PASS community, and we look forward to hearing from RMs and local leaders throughout the year about how the refreshed RM program is working for them. Please send your feedback and ideas to email@example.com.
– Wendy Pastrick
PASS Director, Global Chapters
* US Regions Realignment
US-NorthEast – CT, MA, ME, NH, NY, RI, VT
US-MidAtlantic – DC, DE, MD, NJ, PA, VA, WV
US-SouthEast – AL, FL, GA, KY, MS, NC, SC, TN
US-NorthCentral – IL, IN, MI, MN, OH, WI
US-SouthCentral – AR, LA, NM, OK, TX
US-MidWest – IA, KS, MO, NE
US-Mountain (new) – CO, MT, ND, SD, UT, WY
US-SouthWest – AZ, CA, HI, NV
US-NorthWest – AK, ID, OR, WA
June 24, 2014 – Congratulations to all the community speakers selected for PASS Summit 2014, and thanks to everyone who submitted abstracts in a record-breaking year! We had the most Summit submissions ever, with 943 abstracts submitted for the 144 community session slots in this year's program.
On behalf of the Program Team, I want to share how much we appreciate the SQL Server community’s ever-growing support in helping build the biggest and best educational program for SQL Server and BI professionals.
Thank You, Program Committee Volunteers
I would like to thank all of this year’s 88 Summit Program Committee volunteers for their dedication and hard work in the session review, scoring, rating, and selection process. The team reviewed all the 943 abstracts submitted by 335 speakers from around the world.
I also want to give a special thank you to this year's Program Managers, Lance Harra and Melissa Coates, who led the Program Committee through all phases of the selection process and spent countless hours analyzing and constructing a well-balanced conference program. Finally, a huge thanks to Marcella McKeown and Emilija Dufresne at PASS HQ – invaluable members of the Program Team who support and help coordinate and execute all program-related functions.
Behind the Scenes: How Are Sessions Selected?
The program-selection process is constantly being fine-tuned and improved based on lessons learned and feedback from each event. We welcome and encourage feedback and look forward to continuing to enhance our processes for a fair and objective approach that ensures a well-balanced program. Here’s a high-level overview of how Summit sessions are selected:
- Reviewing Abstracts, Speakers, PPTs: Program Committee volunteers are assigned to one of three teams:
- Abstract Review – Abstract Review volunteers work in sub-teams that match the program’s educational tracks, with each team reviewing and ranking abstracts in its track. The abstract review teams do not know which speakers submitted which abstracts; this "blind rating" is done to remove any favoritism in the scoring process, creating an even playing field for both new and seasoned speakers.
- Speaker Review – This team separately reviews speaker credentials, experience, and past attendee feedback to help select a slate of quality presenters.
- PowerPoint Review – After sessions are selected for Summit, the PowerPoint Review teams take over, reviewing speakers’ presentations, including verifying completeness, ensuring that required slides are included, and doing final spelling/grammar checks.
- Building the Program: When the Abstract and Speaker Review teams are finished, the program managers collect all the scores and ratings and analyze the top sessions from each track to fill the community session slots. Key factors in this analysis phase include:
- Topic Balance – The goals are to ensure that sessions within each track are inclusive and representative of the track’s key topics and to avoid duplication.
- Level Balance – We want to ensure a good mix of skill levels for beginners through experts.
- Speaker Balance – We strive for a lineup that includes both established expert speakers and rising stars. To offer a good variety of speakers, we limit the number of general sessions to two per presenter.
- Partnering with Microsoft: With the community sessions selected, our next step now is to open the Microsoft call for speakers, collaborating with Microsoft to make sure selected submissions complement the community sessions and create a cohesive overall Summit program. Watch for Microsoft sessions and the complete session schedule in early September.
New: Improved Filtering and Learning Paths
As part of our commitment to execute a robust and diverse educational program for Summit 2014, we are providing better attendee guidance through role- and skill-based learning tracks. This year, we are introducing Learning Paths, which are being rolled out as part of an improved session filtering and search feature.
Filter options include Track, Speaker, Level, Session Type, and the new Learning Paths, which let attendees further refine their search by leveraging nine cross-track topics:
- Big Data
- High Availability/ Disaster Recover
- Power BI
- SQL Server 2014
If an attendee is interested in sessions related to SQL Server running in a virtualized environment, for example, he/she can select the Hardware/Virtualization Learning Path. Additional Learning Path filters can be applied for an even more refined search.
Recognizing that Cloud/Azure-related topics cross various tracks and interests, this year we have incorporated Cloud sessions into the appropriate remaining tracks and have created new filtering and search options on the PASS Summit 2014 Sessions page. We hope the new filtering and search options will make it easier for all Summit attendees to locate sessions that are best suited to their interests and needs.
We have a phenomenal program this year, planned and presented by the SQL Server Community for the SQL Server Community. Help us spread the word, and don’t forget to register by June 27 to save $300 on your registration. See you in Seattle!
– Amy Lewis
PASS Director of Programs
April 1, 2014 – Mark your calendar: An early Nomination Committee (NomCom) process will kick off this year’s PASS elections season, with applications opening in May for three community seats on the team that will manage the Board of Directors elections. The 2014 NomCom will also be working to streamline and improve our elections process for candidates and members alike.
As Immediate Past President, I’ll be chairing the five-member NomCom, which includes three elected community representatives who will reflect the three seats up for election on the PASS Board this year: one US/Canada seat and two open seats. A representative appointed by the PASS Board will round out the committee.
In addition to managing the Board elections, this year’s NomCom is charged with streamlining the process for involving and evaluating candidates and with enhancing opportunities for community engagement in the elections.
To give us time to discuss and implement any changes, the NomCom elections season will occur earlier this year, with NomCom applications opening May 14 and elections running June 3-6. Once seated, the NomCom will meet regularly from June 9-July 25 before Board applications open in early August and will participate in candidate interviews from August 27 to September 12.
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.
Remember that to be eligible to vote in the NomCom and PASS Board elections, members must update their PASS profile by June 1, 2014. Many of you have already completed your myProfile information, which helps PASS better serve your interests and allows us to do our due diligence in ensuring that eligible voters receive only one ballot. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to update your myProfile today!
Serving on the NomCom is one of the most rewarding ways to give back to the PASS community and be involved in helping shape the future of our organization. Have questions about what’s involved in running for and serving on the PASS NomCom? Don’t hesitate to reach out to me or PASS HQ Governance Administrator Janice Simpson.
– Bill Graziano
Immediate Past President/NomCom Chair
March 7, 2014 – I wanted to thank everyone for all the great feedback we received on the PASS SQLSaturday goals. I know many of you are excited about the undertaking of the new SQLSaturday website.
There have been a few questions around open-sourcing the site that I’d like to address. Rebuilding the site – accessed by tens of thousands of SQL Server professionals a year – is a major IT project and needs to be undertaken in a controlled and concentrated environment. In concept, open-sourcing the site is an interesting idea, but in terms of execution, we’re simply not in a position to make that happen. The site will be created in the DNN environment in order to facilitate content management functionality for the 80+ volunteer organizers who put on events on a yearly basis.
We started the community feedback process back in the fall with roundtable discussions at PASS Summit and an open meeting with those who expressed interest in providing feedback. We are currently building out wireframes for the site and will share a prerecorded webinar in the next week or so for anyone interested in reviewing. In an effort to keep the feedback process as manageable as possible, we will set up a feedback site for a select group of representative SQLSaturday community individuals from around the world to help us shape this new and improved SQLSaturday website. If you are interested in putting your name forward to be part of this feedback group, please contact us via email with “SQLSat website feedback” in the subject line.
– Tim Ford
SQLSaturday Director, PASS Board
February 17, 2014 – Volunteers have a hand in all aspects of the PASS community – setting up Chapter and Virtual Chapter meetings, organizing PASS SQLSaturday events, speaking at events, reviewing session abstracts for events, and so much more. PASS would not exist without our passionate, dedicated, and hardworking volunteers from around the globe.
To bring focus to the important tasks of growing PASS’s volunteer pool, better organizing volunteer efforts, and recognizing volunteers’ valuable contributions, we reinstated the Volunteers portfolio last year. I am proud to serve as director of this portfolio and would like to share the main goals we’ve put forward for the coming fiscal year, budget permitting, which begins July 1, 2014:
- Streamline the volunteer channel: This effort, which began last year with the rollout of the myVolunteering section on myPASS, aims to facilitate volunteer recruitment and help grow leaders throughout the world. Targets for FY2015 are to enlist 100% of volunteers through myVolunteering and to connect 100 additional volunteers through the service, which lets members regularly know about volunteering opportunities in their selected interest areas.
- Provide a rewarding experience for volunteers: Grow the Outstanding Volunteer of the Month program – which recognizes dedicated volunteering efforts – to an average of five submissions per month, including soliciting regular submissions from Chapter and VC leaders and SQLSaturday organizers.
- Develop accountability and reward programs: Work with community-facing portfolios to track volunteer contributions across the PASS organization and enhance volunteer appreciation and non-monetary rewards.
I’ve had such valuable experiences serving as a PASS volunteer in all sorts of capacities, and I look forward to any ideas you have for involving more community members and celebrating their efforts – just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And don’t forget to fill out your myVolunteering preferences and to say thank you to your favorite, hardworking PASS volunteer by nominating them for Outstanding Volunteer of the Month.
– Sri Sridharan
Volunteers Director, PASS Board
January 27, 2014 – At its in-person meeting in Seattle last week, the PASS Board of Directors approved amendments to the PASS Bylaws as Founding Partner CA relinquishes its two seats on the PASS Board. The bylaw changes amend Section VI.2., Composition and Qualifications, to reduce the number of both voting Directors and vendor-appointed Directors and to remove CA from appointing vendor-appointed seats:
With CA’s resignation from the Board – official as of January 31 – PASS will say goodbye to its two longest serving Board members, Rick Bolesta and Neil Buchwalter. Rick joined the PASS Board as a CA Founding Partner representative in Year 2 (2000), and Neil joined him on the Board a year later.
Rick and Neil’s longevity with the Board has been invaluable to PASS. They have played a huge role in guiding the work of the Board, especially in areas of governance, leadership development, and strategic direction of the organization.
“One of my big takeaways from both these gentlemen is their ability to sit at the table during a Board meeting and always wear their PASS hat,” noted PASS President Thomas LaRock. “Over the years, they have consistently put the community first.”
On behalf of the community and the PASS Board and PASS HQ, we thank CA for its support and for allowing Rick and Neil to share their guidance and wisdom with us for so many years – they will be greatly missed.
You can read more about CA’s relationship with PASS in Andy Warren’s interview with Rick Bolesta from PASS Summit 2013.
January 21, 2014 – PASS Regional Mentors are all about helping local Chapter Leaders and event organizers on their way to success. From supporting new Chapter launches and sharing ideas on how to market and grow your user group to helping you find speakers, sponsors, and even host a SQLSaturday event in your city, these dedicated volunteers are helping build a stronger data community around the world.
PASS is excited to introduce new and returning RMs for many of our regions, and please join us in extending a heartfelt thanks and best wishes to our outgoing RMs as they continue to serve the PASS community.
- LATAM: PASS is welcoming a new RM team for the LATAM region this year, and we thank outgoing RMs Carlos Farias, Jesus Gil, John Bulla, and Mary Arcia – as well as departing Brazil RM Luciano Moreira – for all their efforts in building the foundation for LATAM PASS.
- Middle East/Africa: Nabeel Derhem (blog | @NabeelDerhem) is partnering with Jody Roberts as RM for the Middle East/Africa region as Gareth Swanepoel moves from MEA to the US-Southeast.
- UK: Jonathan Allen is leaving as UK RM, with Neil Hambly (blog | @Neil_Hambly) joining RM Mark Broadbent to support the region.
- US - North Central: John Morehouse (blog | @SqlrUs) is teaming up with existing North Central RM Ted Krueger in place of outgoing RM Jason Strate.
- US - Northeast: Mike Hillwig (blog | @mikehillwig) is joining Jack Corbett as RM for the US-Northeast as Steve Hughes finishes his tenure.
- US - Southeast: As noted earlier, Gareth Swanepoel (blog | @garethswan) is moving from the MEA region to join Southeast RMs Kendal Van Dyke and Tim Radney in place of Jose Chinchilla, who is now part of the new LATAM RM team.
Thanks again to our outgoing mentors for all their contributions, and good luck to our 2014 RM teams as they support the growing PASS communities in their regions. If you’re interested in becoming a PASS RM and would like to learn more about this valuable role and future opportunities, please contact Karla Landrum.
January 7, 2014 – 2013 was a wonderful year for PASS. We grew in service to data professionals around the world across many areas – adding 31 local PASS Chapters, six new Virtual Chapters, and the inaugural PASS Business Analytics Conference – and welcomed over 16,000 new members. With 2013 now in our rear-view mirror, it’s time to look at what lies ahead for PASS.
Before we dive into the coming year, I want to thank Rushabh Mehta, Douglas McDowell, and Rob Farley for their many years of service to the PASS community as they leave the Board of Directors. Their hard work and dedication will be sorely missed.
Let’s also take a moment to welcome the new Directors joining the Board for 2014-2015: Amy Lewis, Jen Stirrup, and Tim Ford. Amy will be taking over PASS Programs, Jen will lead Virtual Chapters, and Tim will be responsible for the SQLSaturday portfolio. You can read about all the Board portfolio assignments on the PASS blog.
As PASS continues to grow, the Board understands the need for Directors to shift away from their historical role as “doers” and toward setting direction through strategic thinking. We have been taking measured steps as part of this transition. And after the 2013 elections, I shared the vision that myself, Adam Jorgensen, and Denise McInerney have for PASS as your Executive Committee (ExeCo).
Vision statements are good, but actions are better. So to start, every Board member is outlining their portfolio tasks so that we make certain they roll up to our higher-level goals and that we hold each other accountable. In my years on the Board, we have had a lot of great ideas but struggled with follow-through and accountability. We are aiming to change that in 2014.
I’ve asked all Board members to submit their goals for 2014 before Jan. 13. The ExeCo will then review the goals before the Board’s January in-person meeting and provide feedback about any tasks not aligned with the overall vision.
With your help – and the leadership of dedicated Board members – I’m looking forward to hitting the ground running this year.
Let’s make 2014 a year to remember, together.
Cross-posted from my blog
October 14, 2013 – As I type this, I’m on an airplane en route to my 12th PASS Summit. It’s been a very busy 3.5 months since my last post on my work as a Board member. Nearing the end of my 2-year term, I am struck by how much has happened, and yet how fast the time has gone.
But I’ll save the retrospective post for next time and today focus on what happened in Q3. In the last three months, we made progress on several fronts, thanks to the contributions of many volunteers and HQ staff members. They deserve our appreciation for their dedication to delivering for the membership week after week.
The Virtual Chapters continue to provide many PASS members with valuable free training. Between July and September of 2013, VCs hosted over 50 webinars with a total of 4300 attendees.
This quarter also saw the launch of the Security and Global Russian VCs. Both are off to a strong start, and I welcome these additions to the Virtual Chapter portfolio.
At the beginning of 2012, we had 14 Virtual Chapters. Today we have 22. This growth has been exciting to see. It has also created a need to have more volunteers help manage the work of the VCs year-round. We have renewed focus on having Virtual Chapter Mentors work with the VC Leaders and other volunteers. I am grateful to volunteers Julie Koesmarno, Thomas LeBlanc, and Marcus Bittencourt, who join original VC Mentor Steve Simon on this team.Thank you for stepping up to help.
Many improvements to the VC websites have been rolling out over the past few weeks. Our marketing and IT teams have been busy working a new look and feel, features, and a logo for each VC. They have given the VCs a fresh, professional look consistent with the rest of the PASS branding, and all VCs now have a logo that connects to PASS and the particular focus of the chapter.
24 Hours of PASS
The Summit Preview edition of 24HOP was held on July 31 and by all accounts was a success. Our first use of the GoToWebinar platform for this event went extremely well. Thanks to our speakers, moderators, and sponsors for making this event possible. Special thanks to HQ staffers Vicki Van Damme and Jane Duffy for a smoothly run event.
Coming up: The 24HOP Portuguese Edition will be held November 13-14, followed December 12-13 by the Spanish Edition. Thanks to the Portuguese- and Spanish-speaking community volunteers who are organizing these events.
July Board Meeting
The Board met July 18-19 in Kansas City. The first order of business was the election of the Executive Committee who will take office January 1. I was elected Vice President of Marketing and will join incoming President Thomas LaRock, incoming Executive Vice President of Finance Adam Jorgensen ,and Immediate Past President Bill Graziano on the ExeCo. I am honored that my fellow Board members elected me to this position and look forward to serving the organization in this role.
Visit to PASS HQ
In late September, I traveled to Vancouver for my first visit to PASS HQ, where I joined Tom LaRock and Adam Jorgensen to make plans for 2014. Our visit was just a few weeks before PASS Summit and coincided with the Board election, and the office was humming with activity. I saw first-hand the enthusiasm and dedication of everyone there. In each interaction I observed a focus on what is best for PASS and our members. Our partners at HQ are key to the organization’s success. This week at PASS Summit is a great opportunity for all of us to remember that, and say “thanks.”
PASS Summit—of course! I’ll be around all week and look forward to connecting with many of our members over meals, at the Community Zone, and between sessions.
In the evenings, you can find me at the Welcome Reception, Exhibitor’s Reception, and Community Appreciation Party. And I will be at the Board Q&A session Friday at 12:45pm.
The newly elected ExeCo and Board members take office January 1, and the Virtual Chapter portfolio is transitioning to a new director. I’m thrilled that Jen Stirrup will be taking over. Jen has experience as a volunteer and co-leader of the Business Intelligence Virtual Chapter and was a key contributor to the BI VC's expansion to serving our members in the EMEA region. I’ll be working closely with Jen over the next couple of months to ensure a smooth transition.
October 11, 2013 – With the PASS Board of Directors elections completed and thousands of community members and volunteers gathering at PASS Summit 2013 in Charlotte next week, it’s time to meet your Board portfolio leaders for the coming year. It’s been a pleasure, as one of my first tasks as incoming PASS President, to match up Directors with the project portfolios where they can put their skills, experience, passions, and energy to best use.
Here are the portfolios for 2014:
- James Rowland-Jones led our Global Growth portfolio over the past year, helping us gather feedback and lay the groundwork for better supporting the global community, including converting two seats on the PASS Board to regional seats. JRJ will remain with Global Growth and also lead Special Projects.
- Sri Sridharan began his term on the Board last year with the reinstated Volunteers portfolio and will continue the important tasks of growing PASS’s volunteer pool, better organizing volunteer efforts, and recognizing volunteers’ valuable contributions.
- Wendy Pastrick will continue leading our Global Chapters portfolio, working to grow and support local user groups with a great team of Community Evangelists and Chapter Leaders and Regional Mentors throughout the world.
- Amy Lewis, newly elected to the Board, will begin her term heading up the Programs portfolio. Working with Director Adam Jorgensen, Amy has served as co-manager of PASS Programs for 2 years, helping improve processes and lead the team that selects sessions for PASS Summit and the PASS Business Analytics Conference.
- Jen Stirrup, elected to the new EMEA regional seat on the Board, will put her experience as PASS BI Virtual Chapter co-leader to valuable use in guiding the Virtual Chapters portfolio.
- Tim Ford, elected to the new US/Canada regional seat, will take over the SQLSaturday portfolio. A passionate SQLSaturday supporter, Tim organized Kalamazoo, MI’s first SQLSaturday. Over 80 SQLSaturdays were held throughout the world in FY2013, and we’re expecting continued growth of these popular free, 1-day training events as we focus on meeting the needs of even more data professionals around the globe.
The 2014 PASS Board also includes the PASS Executive Committee – consisting of myself; Executive VP, Finance, Adam Jorgensen; VP, Marketing, Denise McInerney; and Past President Bill Graziano – and Founding Partner Board members from CA and Microsoft.
The transition to new assignments is underway, and new portfolio leaders will be meeting with community leaders and volunteers at Summit to get a jump-start on their projects. Make sure you say “Hi” at Summit, join us at the Board Q&A on Friday, Oct. 18, and volunteer to pitch in on your favorite projects. We can’t wait to get down to business!
– Thomas LaRock