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PASS Chapters Update Q4 2012

Welcome New Chapters

This past quarter several new Chapters have joined the PASS community:

Astrakhan .NET & SQL User Group, Russia, led by Yana Kuranova

SQL Professionals of Northwest Nevada, US, led by Christopher Sherrill

Taiwan SQL Server User Group, China, led by Byron Hu and Pohan Chen

Codificando .NET, Sao Paulo, Brazil, led by Erickson Ricci

PASS Beijing, China, led by Quan Zhang

BIDN, Johannesburg, South Africa, led by Mark Stacey

BITUGA, Portugal led by Paulo Matos

New Zealand BI User Group, led by Reza Rad

We also have had a lot of new Chapter Leaders join us in existing Chapters as well as rebooting some inactive Chapters and we look forward to helping them keep their Chapters thriving.  Be sure to reach out to your Regional Mentors and the PASS Community Evangelists for any questions you have, they are here to help you.

Regional Mentor Updates

It has been great to see more and more Chapter Leaders utilizing the great resources we have in Regional Mentors. We have some Regional Mentor changes to announce for January 2013.

Leaving the role of RM for the UK is Chris Testa O’Neill. Chris has done a tremendous job in helping with the awareness and growth of PASS in the UK the past couple of years and we are thankful for his efforts. Taking the reins in the UK and working along with Jonathan Allen in 2013 will be Mark Broadbent. Mark has been a great supporter of PASS as well as a strong Chapter leader and presenter, and most recently hosted his first SQLSaturday in Cambridge. His experiences in these areas will be a great benefit to helping others in his region.

Alexandro Prado is leaving his role as RM for Brazil after much success in spreading PASS communities in that region.  Due to the tremendous size and growth potential Brazil, we decided to appoint two RMs to cover that region. Luciano Moreira, of the Chapter in Brasilia, will work along-side with Laerte Junior out of Sao Paulo. Laerte was co-leader of SQLSaturday #100, the first PASS SQL Saturday event in Brazil. We are confident that Luciano and Laerte will make a dynamo team for that country, and we look forward to seeing what will come in 2013.

I’d like to once again thank Alexandro and Chris for their volunteer time commitment as well as their service to PASS in this key role for Chapters. Their efforts in their local regions will be recognized as the foundation that we will build on for years to come.

Updated Chapters Toolset

Chapter leaders have hopefully already heard about improvements we are making in the tools PASS has for Chapters.  We are continually rolling out new improvements so be sure to check in often for updates.  To see what we’ve been up to, if you are a PASS Chapter leader and have a PASS hosted DNN site, log into your admin page.  If you don’t have a PASS Hosted DNN site, head to the dashboard at http://www.sqlpass.org/PASSChapters/ChapterDashboard.aspx. There you can see:

 

Profile/Addresses

We are displaying most of the information we have about your chapter within the dashboard.  I would like to request that every chapter leader log in to the dashboard and make sure the information is up-to-date.  Some fields are intentionally not user updateable so if a field cannot be updated, and needs to be corrected please send an email to with the update you’d like to make.  Please pay particular attention to the “Chapter Leaders” tab when making sure the information is correct.  In the future we will be relying on this information being up-to-date when making key decisions about Chapters.

Events/Meetings

For Chapters using a PASS hosted website, you can now benefit from the Events module integration.  With this new tool you can enter your event/meeting details in one place and it will auto update those details to the Events page of the SQLPASS website, as well as to your home page of your own Chapter website and your event will also show up on myPASS for members associated with your Chapter.  Other events module features include local timezone/ical support, prescheduling future meetings, uploading of meeting presentations/resources, auto archiving old events and more.  For instructions on how to setup & publish an event, check out our handy guide listed on the Chapter Resources page.  We will continue to update this module with more features in the coming months.  Future plans include linking to many other sites/marketing avenues as well as better support for RSVP’s and more.

Chapter Emailer

In addition to contacting those members who’ve registered with PASS and are associated with your Chapter, you can now upload your own mailing lists and email those specific lists about your Chapter.  Thank you for the great feedback about the Emailer during the Chapter Leader Meeting at Summit. We’re working to ensure many of your concerns will be addressed in future versions of the tool.  As myPASS use increases we are seeing more and more PASS members associate themselves with local Chapters so don’t miss out on this opportunity to reach a great pool of potential new members.

myPASS

MyPASS is the new default homepage for all PASS members who are logged in to the main SQLPASS.org site.  We designed this page to bring all of the Chapter and Virtual Chapter meeting information into one easy to use interface for your members.  While looking at myPASS please check your profile and make sure it is up to date as well.  Early in the new year, the Chapter dashboard will be getting the myPASS look and feel. It will show up on the left side as a tab that is visible only to Chapter Leaders

Summit Downloads for Chapter Leaders

Finally some news I know Chapter leaders have been patiently waiting for!  Chapter Leaders should now have access to download the Summit 2012 sessions.  The following should enable you to begin downloading/streaming the sessions immediately:

  • Go to the Summit 2012 Session listings (you will need to login, or be currently logged in with your PASS Chapter leader Account)

http://www.sqlpass.org/summit/2012/Sessions/BuildSchedule.aspx

  • Click on the “session recording” link next to the session name
  • From there you should see a DOWNLOAD button below the streaming player
  • Note that in order to play this file you may need to update codecs in your media player

If you are unable to download the sessions, please contact the helpdesk

Introducing Wendy Pastrick

As you may know by now, Wendy Pastrick was elected to the PASS Board of Directors during the last election, and will begin her term on the Board January 1, 2013 by leading the Global Chapters portfolio. PASS’s support of local Chapters through Regional Mentors, Community Evangelists, tools, best practices, and more has grown tremendously over the last few years, but there’s still much to do. I hope you will all welcome Wendy and continue to provide her the same great feedback you always have with me.  Wendy can be reached on .

Goodbye for now or until we meet again

As my year as Director of Global Chapters is coming to a close, I wanted to take this opportunity thank each of you for helping Chapters as well as recognize the progress we made together this year in helping PASS communities grow stronger.  We were able to make some very visible progress during the last year to better support PASS Chapters and their members and with the team we have in place I expect we will maintain that momentum going forward.

I’ll be staying involved with the PASS Community going forward and for now I’ll be focusing on wrapping up some of the Chapter tools changes and working towards a successful handoff of that project.  It has been my privilege to work with y’all and I look forward to seeing each of you in the future.

Have your voice heard

Its nearing the end of the road for this years PASS elections cycle and according to the elections timeline, in just a few short hours this years election will be over.  Voting will officially end at 12PST tomorrow.  To help the inner procrastinator in all of us, heres a link that should tell you when the very last moment is for your vote to count!

Hopefully if you’re taking the time to read this blog you are in the final stages of deciding which of the 5 candidates for the PASS Board of Directors you’d like to vote for.  I want to thank you for being an educated PASS member and taking your valuable time to vet the candidates.  In order to help make that process a bit easier, following is an aggregate of all my pass views about the election.

Detailed info about my candidacy

Additional places around the web where I’ve been mentioned

Hopefully this makes finding as much info as you need about what I stand for with PASS easier to find.  I would be honored If you would cast one of your votes for me.  I’m running for the PASS Board of Directors, and I need your help to make a difference.

What have I done in 2 years on the PASS Board of Directors

tl;dr — Disclaimer

I almost didn’t publish this post once I saw what it became as it was too verbose. I couldn’t find a way to shorten it substantially and I didn’t want to break it up.  However, I wanted it out there for no other reason than to serve as a crutch to my aging memory.

Cliffsnotes Version Available

For most of you, the outline below should be plenty of info to help shape your opinion of my first term on the PASS BOD. However, for those that want more details (or are just bored for 5 minutes) the details are included afterwards.

Serving on the Board for the last 2 years has been a great experience and many of my successes and failures have been documented right on this blog but, I thought it would be good to bring some of that data into a single post

Communication

In the not too distant past, PASS directors weren’t the best at communicating things with the membership outside of official channels (minutes and connector articles). I believe in open and transparent communication whenever possible. I have worked to update this blog with information about PASS happenings at least semi-regularly since joining the board (31 Blog posts about PASS since 1/1/2011)

Website – Chapter support

Over the last 4 months I’ve been spearheading a rather large project within PASS to redesign much of the PASS member interfaces on the website. Being able to increase the exposure our chapter events have should help this grassroots section of PASS grow even stronger. This redesign should be live before this years summit if current projections aren’t off.

In addition to this, over the last 7 months I’ve been leading a separate project to completely revamp the infrastructure PASS uses to manage chapters. It’s an unfortunate reality that when I started in the chapter portfolio, nearly all of our information about chapters, including leaders, meetings, Regional mentors, etc was handled nearly exclusively in excel. We had a great deal of technical debt to deal with in order to begin properly supporting chapters. After a bit of counseling with the experts, we decided to throw nearly everything we had away and start anew. In the time since that decision, we’ve produced a set of tools that our Community Evangelists, Regional Mentors & Chapter Leaders are beginning to use.

I’ve also been redefining the Regional Mentor role within PASS to better outline in clear terms what a chapter leader can expect of an RM and what an RM can expect of chapter leaders and PASS itself! This is still very much ongoing but, we’ve already made some good progress and this group is on a better path into the future.

SQLRally

One of the more difficult decisions I’ve been involved with in the last year was the decision to cancel the North American Rally for FY2013. I believe the Rally model provides a fantastic opportunity for PASS to have a greater impact for more members. The North American rally process worked but definitely had some issues. I don’t think anyone who was associated would disagree however, I’m still of the opinion we could have fixed those issues by tweaking the event model in FY13. There were some great discussions about possible options however, I was not persuasive enough and in the end the board had to choose among priorities and voted not to have a North American Rally in FY13. I’m still optimistic that this will be picked back up in the spring for a FY14 US event.

Global Growth

Everyone on the board has been involved in the move to make PASS a truly international organization and I am have been no exception to this.  JRJ spearheading this group has allowed the board to make great progress on this objective. Much of this process has been collaborative and I believe we are currently on track to create a great global organization. If you haven’t read the info on the global growth site, I would encourage you to do so!

Elections

I’ve been quite vocal within the board (as well in the minutes) about my belief that for the health of the organization we should form a small group (3ish) yearly after the elections to function in an ERC capacity. I think having them meet a time or two yearly to go over the election process and any concerns from anyone involved makes a lot of sense, and allows the organizations processes to naturally evolve instead of the abrupt changes we’ve had in the past.  I don’t believe this group has to have a bunch of overhead but, I’d like to see it engrained in our culture.

Reserves

PASS occasionally makes a small profit in a given year based on how well the summit does financially. Since joining the board, I’ve been concerned with our process for handling this profit. We currently have a small amount of money in reserves and I believe for the long term health of the organization we need to be putting more of this profit into these reserve accounts. During our last board meeting I was finally successfull in getting an action item created to create a reserve policy and transfer FY11&FY12 monies into these accounts. To the average PASS member, this probably isn’t seen as a big deal and seems like a bit of minutiae however, increasing reserves for the organization in good times will allow us to have better options when things get tough again. Once money gets moved into the reserve account it becomes a bit more difficult for the organization to spend on a regular expense as it takes a board vote.

Volunteer recognition

PASS has awarded the PASSion award to one outstanding volunteer annually. Given the large amount of volunteers we have in the organization, I’ve always felt that we should be doing more to recognize them. Earlier this year I helped drive the creation of a true volunteer appreciation award program. The outstanding volunteer award is only a small token but, receiving recognition including a badge and paper certificate that is signed by the president of PASS is in my mind the least we can do for those who do so much for the PASS community.

Community Evangelist (1&2)

Prior to 2011 PASS HQ had experience in working with volunteers to do things like start chapters, administer SQLsaturdays, etc. However, HQ truly had no one on the team that had been there and done that in the community so to speak. Finding someone who had lived and breathed community for as long as Karla Landrum (Blog|twitter) had and was willing to leave their Job was truly a stroke of luck. However, convincing the board that this new type of community support person was indeed the best way to spend our funds was a different matter altogether. The face of PASS has been forever changed by this additional role and because of the great success of Karla, as of Oct 22 we will be adding a second Community Evangelist, Niko Neugebauer (Blog|Twitter) to help do even more things directly with the community.

Moving the PASS Summit out of Seattle

Back in 2010-2011 this was quite the hot topic within our community. Ultimately I voted to move the Summit to Charlotte in 2013. Only time will tell whether that was a good decision but, at this point I listened to the community and believe it was the right choice.  I wrote a lengthy reply in the election forum about this topic as well so I won’t rehash it here.

PASS Built tools for events

Early on when I was involved with managing the program committee I lobbied heavily for PASS to invest in the tools needed to do the job of managing our speaker selection process and scheduling for the larger PASS events. In the time since then we have invested heavily in custom built tools and I’m happy to say that even though there are occasionally bugs, the decision to build these tools has allowed PASS to scale events without paying large fees to 3rd party software per event. One interesting thing I worked into the tools requirement was an odata feed . Getting this baked in from the beginning has allowed many others to build applications that make use of the data in interesting ways.

Guidebook

In early 2011 We were looking for a vendor to deliver a mobile experience for the Summit. Because of the existing odata infrastructure for our larger events and new XML feed enhancements planned for the SQLSaturday site, I was able to work with HQ and guidebook to sign a 2 year agreement covering them hosting mobile applications for all of our single day and longer events (sqlsat+).

1/2 Day Sessions

In 2011 I created a new summit session type that has thus far proven to be a great addition to the event

Expanded Role of volunteers in Program Committee

When I began with the Program committee way back when, I believe there were a grand total of 8 volunteers on the committee. When I left as leader of that group we had approximately 25 people actively working on teams and an additional 10 people who were part time dealing with things as needed. By growing these opportunities we are allowing the community to play a greater role at higher levels of the organization. Hopefully some of those same volunteers will move on to higher roles in the org because of their initial involvement in the program committee.

Community participation in Summit session selections

While leading the Program Committee I attempted to involve the community at large as much as possible. Under my watch, for the first time the community was allowed to vote on several sessions to be presented at the summit.

If you like what I’ve accomplished in 2 years and want to see more done, please consider voting for me.

I’m running for the PASS Board of Directors, and I need your help to make a difference. Click here to read about why I’m running.

 

Evolving PASS

I’m running for the PASS board of directors again this year

While everyone running for the open Board positions is certainly qualified, I believe I am the best candidate for two primary reasons.  First, I have a plan for how I want to evolve the organization.  Second, I have a long, well documented history of executing on those plans and delivering results for PASS.

Evolutionary Plans

 

  • Chapters – I’ve already documented many of the specific things Id like to see us change with how PASS supports local chapters including

Community evangelists are providing a great resource, I will continue to refine this roles responsibilities

Continue to refine tools & document PASS’s processes to provide a higher level of support

Plan to drive more value from Regional Mentors by honing their responsibilities into an interesting role for our community leaders

Finish a detailed plan for how PASS can facilitate sponsoring our chapters financially through different avenues

  • Maintain Transparency & Increase Communications

I will champion all board members communicating about their work for PASS to the membership regularly.

I plan to continue working for more transparency in all matters related to the board

  • Evolving the next generation of Leaders – Increasing Community Involvement

Enable board level involvement from volunteers who aren’t on the board through forming board level committees that include volunteers

Develop a board mentorship program where prospective board members are identified and paired up with existing and ex board members to expand their understanding of how the board functions

Further formalize and promote the process we use to recognize volunteer achievements at all levels in the PASS organization

  • Professionalism

I want to see PASS become more professional.  PASS should stop unnecessarily limiting our membership benefits to education and networking opportunities alone.

The board should be setting goals for defining how we can expand our member benefits beyond the current strategy of education/networking

 

The plans outlined above can impact every SQL Server Professionals career in a positive manner and take PASS to new heights.  I want the opportunity to deliver on these plans in the same way I have delivered on my past plans for PASS

 

If you believe in these changes and you like how I communicate them, consider voting for me. I’m running for the PASS Board of Directors, and I need your help to make a difference.  Click here to read about why I’m running.

Im Running for the PASS Board of Directors – Again

My PASS History

Serving on the PASS Board for the last 2 years has been a great experience, in those two years I’ve accomplished more with PASS than I expected yet  there is still more I’d like to see happen.  This is the primary reason I’ve decided to run for re-election to another 2 year term on the board.

During my initial year on the board there was definitely a learning curve.  Even after spending a long period of time as a volunteer, coming up to speed was quite a bit tougher than I had expected.  During the first year I asked for and was assigned the portfolio of the Summit Program committee which I had previously been volunteering on.  Having a familiar tactical duty during that first year while figuring out the learning curve of strategic leadership on the board was very helpful.  After my first year on the board, which was my 5th working on the program committee I realized I wanted a new challenge.  I knew I wanted to work on one of the biggest problems I thought PASS had so, I did a bit of lobbying and starting in January of this year I was given the Global Chapters Portfolio.  After spending some extended time with Karla Landrum (Blog|twitter) and several regional mentors it became obvious that I had underestimated the amount of work that chapters were going to need from me.  During this time it also fully sunk in to me the level of impact PASS could have by making it easier to be a chapter leader.  In the 9 months since them, I have seen a whirlwind of activity around what we’re doing for chapters and I’m proud to say that I feel like the community is starting to see some real changes in PASS’s support of chapters.

The decision

In some ways making the decision to run for the board again this year was a tough one for me.  In my estimation in order to be truly successful on the board and make a difference the community can see/feel it takes an average of at least 5 hours a week.  Likewise, if a board member wants to tackle some of the tougher issues that number can easily double, triple or more.  By no means am I saying this is an absolutely required amount of time, rather that this is what I considered the commitment to be by re-running for the board.  As much as I might have liked to convince myself that I could spend less time on next terms PASS duties, I recognize that I have an unfortunate personality trait where I cant seem to figure out how to do things at any other setting than “all-in” so while scaling back sounds good in theory, it never seems to work out for me personally.  In the end though my desire to finish what I’ve started and hopefully solve a few other issues drove me to decide to re-run for the board.

There’s more to do

In the last 9 months we’ve made a lot of improvements but, there is still a large amount of work to do for our chapters.  I plan on spending the coming board term putting in place the tools, processes and documentation that I believe will help our worldwide chapter leaders spend less time worying about the logistics of their groups and more time building and growing these great local groups.  In order to do this effectively I’ve been focusing on two specific facets of our chapter support.  Regional Mentors and their roles, as well as Chapter leader tools.  I expect that during the middle of next year the chapter tools will be significantly complete and additional things will be added to the list of things Im focusing on improving.  In order to tactically bring about real change, I believe it’s very important to focus on a couple of chapter needs at a time. The difficulty is that PASS chapters have many needs so juggling this and drawing clear lines is often quite a challenge especially as these priorities have to fit into the overall strategic PASS organization priorities.

Other Opportunities

In addition to everything I want to see accomplished for Chapters, I am also committed to working on a couple of other things within the PASS Board I should mention.

  • Transparency – I believe we have made great strides in this area recently and I’d like to see us continue the upward trend and I plan on continuing to lead the board towards a greater level of transparency.  One thing in particular that I will champion is for every board member to communicate with the membership regularly.  For an organization like ours, I believe this is critical in maintaining trust and transparency while giving candid thoughts about the direction of our organization.  Since taking my seat on the board I’ve made 31 blog posts in the category SQLPASS. As I’ve been seated on the board for roughly 21 months that makes for an average of nearly 1.5 blog posts about PASS per month.  I’m not completely happy with that post count as I had intentions on doing better but, I believe our community is better off for having this sort of information freely (and candidly) available.
  • Community involvement – I believe PASS’s greatest asset is our volunteers and we’re currently missing opportunities to involve them at all levels of our organization.  In my past role as leader of the Program committee I did a pretty good job of involving as many volunteers as reasonably possible to run that portfolio.  As the Chapter Portfolio leader I haven’t expanded involvement greatly because we already had a large group of very dedicated volunteers but, as opportunities arise I plan to involve more volunteers.  Looking for other areas within the organization to involve more volunteers should be a priority for every board member and our organization as a whole.  Increasing volunteer participation leads me directly into my my next point
  • Leadership growth – PASS needs to do more to promote our next generation of leaders, in order to do that we must involve volunteers more at all levels of the organization.  We need to create opportunities for volunteers to participate in the decision making process, especially near the top of the organization.  I hope to do this by convincing the board to transition from the current portfolio system to a system where board members serve as chairs on small committees with volunteers from our membership.  Changing this process is going to become even more critically important in the near future as we pursue our international growth goals and dedicate some board seats to our international members.

If you believe in these changes and you like how I communicate them, consider voting for me. I’m running for the PASS Board of Directors, and I need your help to make a difference.  Click here to read about why I’m running.

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