Category: Volunteers

Announcing the 2015 PASS Nomination Committee

July 22, 2015 – Thank you to all PASS members who participated in this year’s Nomination Committee (NomCom) elections. Congratulations to Lori Edwards, Robert L. Davis, and Bob Pusateri, the community representatives whom you have elected to join NomCom Chair Bill Graziano and Board-appointed representative Grant Fritchey on the 2015 NomCom.

A total of 540 voters cast 1229 votes in the NomCom elections. To be eligible to vote in this year’s NomCom and Board elections, PASS members needed to update their PASS profile by June 1, 2015. PASS’ secure online voting system, Simply Voting, doesn’t hold any PASS member email addresses or passwords and helped us to ensure that only eligible voters were able to cast ballots and were able to vote only once (with up to three ballots cast).

The NomCom community seats reflect the three seats up for election on the PASS Board this year: one US/Canada and Open, one EMEA and Open and one Open seat. The five-member NomCom will manage the Board elections process, qualifying, interviewing, and ranking potential candidates. A final slate will then be submitted to the current Board for approval. In addition, 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.

Applications for the three PASS Board seats up for election open August 5. To learn more about the 2015 NomCom election results and preview the upcoming Board of Directors elections, please see the Elections site. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact PASS Governance.

Congratulations again to Lori, Robert, and Bob. And a special thank you to all the candidates for their dedicated volunteer efforts on behalf of the PASS community and their enthusiastic and professional candidacies in this year’s NomCom elections.

PASS da la Bienvenida a los LATAM Regional Board Advisors

03 de julio 2015--Como Presidente del Comité de Crecimiento Global de PASS me complace presentar a nuestros dos nuevos consejeros de Junta Directiva para la región de América Latina (LATAM): Eduardo Castro de Costa Rica y Diego Nogare de Brasil. Eduardo y Diego fueron nombrados por un plazo de un año (hasta el 2 de junio de 2016) por el PASS Board of Directors, y ayudarán para que PASS aumente el apoyo a los profesionales de datos en toda la comunidad mundial.

Eduardo y Diego fueron identificados como asesores de la región de LATAM debido a su larga trayectoria y el servicio que brinda en sus comunidades locales de PASS. Ambos han organizado eventos SQLSaturday extremadamente exitosos en sus respectivos países; y sus capítulos locales están prosperando. Como MVP, tanto Eduardo como Diego tienen relaciones comunitarias fuertes, así como un conocimiento en profundidad de las fortalezas y desafíos que son específicas de sus comunidades locales de SQL Server.

Este nombramiento es el último paso en las iniciativas de Global Growth Initiatives de PASS, las cuales iniciaron en el año 2011 con el nombramiento de tres asesores internacionales en la Junta Directiva y se realizaron nuevos avances en 2013 con la introducción de puesto en la Junta Directiva para la región de Europa, Medio Este y Africa (EMEA). Como parte de estas iniciativas, una de las metas del PASS para el año fiscal 2015 ha sido la de establecer una base sólida en la región de LATAM. Nuestro objetivo es apoyar a la comunidad global a través de programas que ayuden a los miembros PASS de habla hispana y portuguesa. Esta meta es sólo una parte de nuestra visión de expandir los beneficios y eventos de PASS a nivel global.

En los próximos meses, los nuevos asesores regionales se reunirán regularmente con nuestro Comité de Crecimiento Global y participarán en las reuniones de Junta Directiva de PASS. Juntos, van a trabajar con PASS para comunicar las necesidades de sus comunidades y para desarrollar y proporcionar los mejores recursos para la región de LATAM. Estamos encantados de contar su ayuda a medida que que planeamos maneras de ofrecer el mejor apoyo, eventos y recursos para la comunidad mundial de datos.

Por favor, únanse a mí para felicitar a Diego y Eduardo en sus nuevas funciones.


Adam Jorgensen
EVP, Finance & Governance, PASS Board of Directors 

PASS dá as Boas Vindas aos LATAM Regional Board Advisors

03 de julho de 2015--Como presidente do comitê de crescimento global do PASS eu tenho o prazer de anunciar nossos dois novos Regional Board Advisors para América Latina (LATAM): Eduardo Castro, da Costa Rica, e Diego Nogare, do Brasil. Eduardo e Diego foram nomeados por um ano (até 2 de Junho de 2016) pelo PASS Board of Directors, e ajudarão o PASS a continuar o crescimento e suporte à profissionais de dados nas comunidades globais.

Eduardo e Diego foram identificados como assessores para a região de LATAM por seu longo histórico e serviços para as comunidades locais do PASS. Ambos tem organizado eventos do SQLSaturdays com extremo sucesso em seus respectivos países; seus capítulos locais estão prosperando. Como MVPs, tanto Eduardo quanto Diego possuem forte relacionamento com a comunidade, como também um entendimento profundo dos pontos fortes e dos desafios que são pertinentes para suas comunidades locais de SQL Server.

Esta nomeação é o mais recente passo das iniciativas de crescimento global do PASS que foram lançadas em 2011 com a nomeação de três assessores do comitê internacional e fez mais avanços em 2013 com a inclusão de um assento da região Europa, Oriente Médio e Africa (EMEA) no Conselho Administrativo. Como parte contínua destas iniciativas, um dos objetivos do PASS para o ano fiscal de 2015 foi estabelecer uma base sólida na região de LATAM. Nosso objetivo é apoiar as comunidades globais de SQL Server através de programas que sirvam membros do PASS de língua espanhola e portuguesa. Esta meta é apenas uma parte de nossa visão para expandir os benefícios e eventos do PASS em todo o mundo.

Ao longo dos próximos meses os novos assessores regionais irão se reunir regularmente com o comitê de crescimento global e também nas reuniões do conselho. Juntos irão trabalhar com o PASS para comunicar as necessidades de suas comunidades locais e para ajudar o PASS a desenvolver e fornecer melhores recursos para a região de LATAM. Estamos felizes em contar com esta ajuda no objetivo de oferecer o melhor apoio, realização de eventos e recursos para a comunidade mundial de dados.

Por favor, junte-se a mim para parabenizar Diego e Eduardo em suas novas funções.


Adam Jorgensen
EVP, Finance & Governance, PASS Board of Directors 

PASS Welcomes LATAM Regional Board Advisors

July 3, 2015--As Chair of PASS’s Global Growth Committee I am pleased to introduce our two new regional board advisors for the Latin America (LATAM) region: Eduardo Castro, from Costa Rica, and Diego Nogare, from Brazil. Eduardo and Diego, who were appointed to one year terms (through June 2, 2016) by the PASS Board of Directors, will help PASS continue to grow our support for data professionals throughout the global community.

Eduardo and Diego were identified as advisors to the LATAM region because of their long history and service in their local PASS communities. Both gentlemen have hosted extremely successful SQLSaturday events in their respective countries; their local chapters are thriving. As MVPs, both Eduardo and Diego have strong community relationships, as well as an in-depth understanding of the strengths and challenges that are specific to their local SQL Server communities.

This appointment is the latest step in PASS’s Global Growth Initiatives, which were launched in 2011 with the appointment of three international board advisors and made further strides in 2013 with the introduction of an earmarked Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) seat on the Board of Directors. As part of these initiatives, one of PASS’s goals for FY2015 has been to establish a strong foundation in the LATAM region. We aim to support the global SQL community through programs that serve Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking PASS members. This goal is just one part of our vision to expand PASS’s benefits and events worldwide.

Over the next several months, the new regional advisors will meet regularly with our Global Growth Committee and will join Board meetings. Together, they will work with PASS to communicate the needs of their communities and to help PASS develop and provide the best resources for the LATAM Region. We are thrilled to have their help as we plan ways to offer for the best support, events, and resources for worldwide the data community.

Please join me in congratulating Diego and Eduardo on their new roles.

Adam Jorgensen
EVP, Finance & Governance, PASS Board of Directors

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.

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 sqlsaturday@sqlpass.org.

Tim Ford 
PASS Board of Directors 
SQLSaturday 

SQLSaturday Site Redesign: Better than Ever

April 6, 2015--Over the past few weeks, we’ve been alerting people to something exciting: our new SQLSaturday website redesign. It’s now faster and easier than ever to manage, speak at, sponsor, or attend a SQLSaturday event!  After a great deal of effort by our staff and community volunteers for months (years, actually) the update is finally here—we hope you’ll stop by and take a look! The redesign will significantly improve the SQLSaturday experience for attendees, speakers, and event and chapter leaders. 

For starters, the new site makes it easier than ever to manage your SQLSaturday event or your Speaker Profile. One of the changes we’ve made is to tie in PASS accounts, so that leaders and speakers don’t need to juggle multiple account logins. 

Speakers now have a universal Speaker Profile that is associated with their PASS accounts and can be applied across events. This change and others make it easier for speakers to manage and track abstract submissions, upload presentations, and get feedback about their sessions. 

If you’re an event leader, you can now use your PASS account to access the Admin site—which has also received a facelift. The site features a cleaner, easier-to-use dashboard that will help to simplify the process of managing an event, including allowing you to associate an event with a chapter.

We’ve also improved the Session Management UI, which now supports a wider variety of session lengths as well as color-coding of tracks and rooms. Plus, you can add keynotes, rest breaks, and raffle draws as non-session items.

SQLSaturday attendees will benefit from the mobile-friendly redesign as well. Use your PASS account to manage your registrations, download SpeedPASS, pay for lunches, and deliver event feedback.

Sponsorship is an even more winning proposition, with a new slider and improved sign-up form that saves sponsors time and effort. (Sponsors will need to complete a one-time upload of new logo graphics to meet our improved display requirements, but beyond that, improvements will be effortless.)

We’re excited to hear what you think about the changes. If you have feedback or questions, we hope you’ll reach out to us at ITSupport@sqlsaturday.com.

--Tim Ford
Director, PASS SQLSaturday

Inside the PASS Board’s January Meeting

February 3, 2015 – The PASS Board of Directors kicked off 2015 with a 2-day in-person meeting in Seattle focusing on goal-setting, global growth and SQLRally initiatives, volunteers, the PASS Business Analytics Conference, and a recommitment to communicating regularly with the community.

Part of communicating better and more often involves letting our members know what Board members are working on and talking about, as well as getting input and feedback all along the way. Going forward, we will be posting meeting agendas ahead of time, summarizing discussions and decisions in recaps like this one (watch for January’s official minutes to be posted next week), and holding regular Town Hall Q&A webcasts for you to share your feedback and ask questions.

Our first Town Hall Q&A will be next week – Feb. 11 at 10:00am PT/18:00 UTC – and we look forward to discussing any topics from January’s Board meeting and hearing what your top priorities are for the coming year.

With that, let’s dive into our jam-packed January meeting.

Global Growth Committee
Last year, we began transitioning the PASS Global Growth portfolio into global growth initiatives for each of our community portfolio areas. Special Projects Director James Rowland-Jones (JRJ), who led the former Global Growth portfolio, highlighted the primary global growth goals for each portfolio, as set by the Executive Committee: reaching the community and beyond, growing leadership, enabling engagement by evolving the operational framework for PASS, using activity-based goals to gauge performance of regions, and being passionate, relevant, and influencing others to connect throughout the PASS organization overall.

To provide greater global representation, in 2013 the PASS Board converted one at-large seat to a Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) regional seat, currently held by Jen Stirrup. In preparation for converting another at-large seat into a Latin America (LATAM) regional seat for the 2016 Board elections, we are taking steps to add Board advisors from LATAM and have set eligibility benchmarks for the LATAM Board seat.

VP of Finance & Governance Adam Jorgensen will be chairing a global growth committee focusing on LATAM and filling that Board seat in 2016, calling on individual portfolio owners to participate as required. We are also starting to work on the strategy for targeting the next region.

SQLRally Model
Continuing the Global Growth theme, JRJ reviewed recent PASS SQLRally events and led the Board in a discussion about the pros and cons of this event model. A task force led by JRJ will review feedback and options and present proposals for a new, more flexible model for regional events. Further information on contacting the task force will be made available through the Connector soon.

Volunteer Leadership Policy
With each Board portfolio now having its own volunteers component – instead of having a separate PASS Volunteers portfolio – Board members spent some time talking about the wide range of volunteer leadership roles within PASS and the commitment it takes to be successful.

Acknowledging how important volunteers are to PASS as well as the many obligations people have inside and outside the organization, Virtual Chapters Director Wendy Pastrick reviewed the first draft of a PASS Leadership policy that provides guidance around volunteers in PASS leadership roles. The policy‘s guidelines are designed to help develop leadership skills, transition volunteers into new leadership roles, and support new leaders. We’ll be reviewing the policy draft, providing feedback, and sharing the next version with the community for feedback.

Business Analytics Update
Jen Stirrup, Director of the new Business Analytics portfolio, shared an update on the restructuring of the PASS Business Analytics Conference for 2015, including market research on redefining the target audience, new approaches to attract more attendees, updating the program, and a focus on community building.

Programs Director Amy Lewis gave an overview of the conference’s sessions, targeted at business and data analytics professionals, and the speaker lineup, which features some of the top experts in the industry.

VP of Marketing Denise McInerney updated us on marketing goals and successes, attendance forecasts and actuals, and demand-generation plans, stressing the importance of differentiating this conference from other data analytics events. Denise reminded us all to spread the word through our companies, social media channels, and various data communities we’re involved in – and I encourage everyone in PASS to do the same.

JRJ presented the projected versus actual sponsor sales and updated the Board on the BA Conference sales team focus and approach for lead generation and partner incentives.

With a clear picture of where and how additional resources could help the BA Conference teams hit the targets for registration and sponsors in this new market, the Board approved a $35,000 budget exception to support increased sales and marketing activities and resources for the conference.

The Board also discussed possibilities for local PASS-sponsored BA initiatives. We agreed to continue exploring options and speaking to members of the community and come back with a plan by June 30.

Improving Communications
A common theme throughout our discussions was how to improve communications and interactions with community members about all of these topics. From providing better and easier access to Board members and facilitating feedback to providing proactive communications and doing a better job of explaining what we’re doing and why, we know we can do more.

Denise reviewed some of steps we took at PASS Summit in November to enable better communications between the Board and community members, including the progress report on goals during the annual Board Q&A session and Board “office hours” in the Community Zone. Then Denise gave us an overview of the comprehensive plan the Marketing team is working on to get community input on and improve communications and interaction with all our members.

We’re already working to add a variety of ways to contact Board members directly from the Board of Directors webpage, as well as ways you can easily provide feedback or ask questions. And the Marketing team is reviewing how to better use all our communications channels and identifying new ones.

This Board meeting recap (and those to follow) is also part of our commitment to better communications, along with providing advance notice of Board meeting agendas – maybe even with a possibility of having time set aside to discuss community-requested topics – and hosting regular live web-based Q&A Town Hall meetings.

Board and Portfolio Goals
Each Director-at-Large also presented a draft of their portfolio goals for Fiscal Year 2016, beginning July 1, 2015, for discussion and feedback. You can read about each Director’s portfolio assignment here, and stay tuned for blog posts coming soon from each portfolio owner – as well as Board-level goals from the Executive Committee (made up of me, Adam, Denise, and Immediate Past President Bill Graziano).

Until then, please feel free to reach out to any of us with your questions, comments, and ideas and remember to join us Feb. 11 for our first Town Hall Q&A.
– Thomas LaRock
PASS President

Related posts:
My First Board Meeting - Grant Fritchey
PASS January Board Meeting – My Thoughts - Adam Jorgensen


Refreshing the Regional Mentor Program

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 ce@sqlpass.org.
– 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


PASS Summit: Already Setting Records

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:

    • Beginner
    • Big Data
    • Cloud
    • Hardware/Virtualization
    • High Availability/ Disaster Recover
    • Performance
    • Power BI
    • Security
    • 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