Posts tagged Community

Getting things done on the PASS Board

Previously I’ve written about many things I’ve done while on the PASS Board.  It’s often easy to take credit as a member of the board for doing things with PASS.  The reality though is that there’s always more to it than just deciding to do something, digging in and personally accomplishing some goal.  PASS is lucky to have a paid staff that executes on many of our objectives. This staff collectively is often referred to simply as “HQ” and they are the primary source of continuity within the organization.

PASS HQ

PASS HQ consists of about 16 people who are permanent salaried staff and at times (summit) upwards of a dozen additional contractors.  The Community Evangelists (Karla Landrum and Niko Neugebauer) will be the most likely contact points for most community members however they are just the front lines. The other people within the HQ team are where much of the additional work happens that allows us to put on great events like the Summit.  These largely unsung heroes of the SQL community do the majority of the heavy lifting from day to day and in many ways should be recognized as critical members of our SQL Community even if most of them wouldn’t know a tempdb from a checkdb.

Relationships matter

Learning to work within the HQ structure is very important for Board members as HQ has such a huge impact on all things PASS that they can greatly contribute to helping make a board member’s priorities a reality or conversely they can contribute to that same board member’s priorities languishing.  I’m happy to say that in the years I’ve been volunteering with PASS, I have taken the time to build strong relationships across the organization that allow me to get things done effectively.  Building these relationships has not always been a cakewalk, in fact far from it, but adversity seems to have had a way of making the working relationship I have within PASS HQ better.  Knowing where to turn within HQ to get answers or to unstick a hung process has proven to be invaluable in my tenure as a volunteer with PASS and now even more so as a Board member.

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.

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.

 

PASS – Campaigning is tough

In order to get elected to the PASS Board, Ive twice now been asked to do something that is easily one of the more challenging things I’ve needed to do professionally.

Self-Promotion

Im a typical DBA type who has never been a fan of self-promotion, Ill happily sit in a corner and give 100% to an effort without looking for any acknowledgement in return.  I believe in doing a good Job and letting the results speak for themselves.  This doesn’t necessarily mean I’m quiet or a reserved introvert, I’m actually the opposite.  I’d go so far as to say that my fellow Board members might agree that it wouldn’t be an understatement to say I can be quite outspoken and opinionated especially when its related to things I’m passionate about, unfortunately for campaigning purposes those are things only the 13 other Board members have seen regularly.

Campaigning to win on my terms

Since deciding to run for another term on the PASS Board I’ve had many conversations with pillars of our community about how I could win another term while not letting my disdain for self-promotion control my ability to get elected.  I want to maintain my position on the board so that I can continue serving the entire community.  To do that I’ve chosen to highlight my prior record and future plans for the organization without leveraging some of the other more self-promotional/direct contact aspects of typical election campaigns.  This was an incredibly difficult decision to make because I really want to win… but not at the expense of my own personality.  As a wise person once told me: “it’s better to be yourself and loose than pretend and loose hope”

My plan has been simple, keep doing what I’ve been doing.  (The question is: is it working?  I suppose I’ll find out Oct 15th)

  • Blogging – I’ve blogged about PASS since nearly the beginning of my blogging (post #2) So I’ve continued
  • Forums – I’ve been active in the Election forums (have a question, please post it!)
  • Twitter – I’m always open to chat about #sqlpass on twitter regardless of whether its elections season or not
  • Phone/Instant message – I’ve had a few phone/IM conversations about my platform.  Want to chat? Just ask.  I’m always available
  • References – I asked a few people who know of my work with PASS for letters of reference

* Andy Warren, Jeremiah Peschka and Tjay Belt  (pdf pg 5-7)

Continuing to Serve

I’ve spent many thousands of hours of my life serving the PASS organization and want the opportunity to spend a few hundred thousand more in the same role over the next two years.  However, if by chance the community wants to see someone else in my seat on the board I can live with that, there aren’t any bad choices.  I will still continue to focus on the SQL community; it will just be in a different way than I am able to currently.

If you appreciate and expect this level of candor from the PASS Board, 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.

PASS Chapters Update 2

Welcome New Chapters & Regional Mentors

In June & July we had 2 new chapters join the PASS Community

Appleton, Wisconsin Led By Jes Borland

Northern Colorado Led by Erik Disparti

We also have had a lot of new Chapter Leaders join us in existing Chapters and we look forward to helping them keep their chapters thriving.

I’d also like to announce a few new Regional Mentor changes. Please welcome Andrey Korshikov, the new Regional Mentor for Central Eastern Europe. Many of you will know Andrey from his work on the Russian edition of 24 Hours of PASS.   Joey D’Antoni will be stepping into a new role as the Regional Mentor for the US Mid-Atlantic region. Joey has been a Chapter Leader in Philadelphia, a SQLSaturday organizer and recently participated in the SQL Server 2012 Special Ops Tour.

Regional Mentors give so much to the PASS Community and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Andre Kamman and John Welch for all their hard work in the role. Andre was busy filling in for Central Eastern Europe on top of his duties as Regional Mentor for Western Europe while we looked for a great candidate. Johns dedication this past year to his role as Regional Mentor for the US Mid-Atlantic was also appreciated.

Chapter Tools

Chapter leaders may have noticed the new chapter tools are starting to be rolled out. If you are a PASS Chapter leader and have a PASS hosted DNN site, log into your admin page to see the changes, 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 the changes including:

 

Chapter Profile

Check out the chapter profile page and make sure we have your address correct. We’ll be using this address for the mailings we have planned, including your chapters copy of the Summit 2012 DVD’s

Chapter Emailer

In addition to contacting those members who’ve registered with PASS for your chapter information, you can now upload your own mailing lists and email specific lists about your Chapter.  This is version one of the tool and a great way to reach PASS members interested in your group.

Chapter Kits

The Chapter Kits have now been mailed. Please keep an eye on the post for your package. Thank you to everyone who took the time to update their address in the mailing survey. The logistics of mailing packages to 250+ chapters around the world were enormous. If you have any feedback on the kits or suggestions for the next mailing please contact us

 

Summit

PASS Summit 2012 will be November 7-9 in Seattle, WA, USA.

Chapter leaders, check with your Regional Mentor for this year’s Chapter Leader comp code. Chapter Members can also recieve a 200$ discount for the Summit, check with your local Chapter leader for the discount code

The Chapter Leaders meeting at Summit will be on Tuesday November 6 in the afternoon. We’re looking for a few good volunteers to help us set up the structure and agenda for the that meeting. If you are interested please let me know. 

Community Evangelist

As announced in the July Connector, PASS is looking for an additional Community Evangelist. We’ve made great strides in the Community team but are looking to provide even more support to the growing number of PASS Chapters and SQLSaturday events.

 If you are interested or know someone who would be great for the job, don’t hesitate to reach out to Karla or myself. We are here to answer any questions you may have.

 Read more about the requirements to be a Community Evangelist here: http://www.sqlpass.org/Community/PASSBlog/entryid/447/Join-the-PASS-HQ-Team.aspx

Regional Mentor Travel

The Regional Mentor Travel program was a success with 11 RMs traveling to 9 chapter meetings and 6 SQLSaturday events. We’re in the process of revising the program for FY2013. The aim is to provide Chapters with speakers and connect RMs with Chapter Leaders. I welcome any ideas on how to best accomplish this.

Volunteer Appreciation Awards

PASS wouldn’t be what it is today without great volunteers like y’all. This year we’ve introduced a new program,  The Outstanding PASS Volunteer. This is awarded monthly to volunteers who deserve special recognition for their volunteer efforts. 

If you know someone who has gone above and beyond the call of duty check out http://www.sqlpass.org/Community/Volunteers.aspx to nominate them. Chosen nominees will be announced on the PASS website and receive a Certificate of Appreciation signed by the PASS President.

Speaking of “Thank You’s”, I’d like to take an extra minute and say Thank you to every Regional Mentor and Chapter Leader. It’s been an active first half of 2012 and I look forward to where the second half of the year will take us.

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