Posts tagged Volunteer

T-SQL Tuesday – Giving back to the SQL Community in 2015

This months TSQL Tuesday #61 is hosted by Wayne Sheffield on Giving Back to the SQL Server Community.  An interesting topic given the season and something that is near and dear.  Here’s his original post


It seems like I have a knack for doing things backwards differently and my time giving to the SQL Community has largely followed that path!  In 2015 Ill be continuing my “different” trend of community impact through PASS from international/national to local!

As some of you might know, I’ve spent a good portion of the last nine (or is it ten?) years involved with PASS in a number of different roles.  From working on the precursor to our current Virtual Chapters to volunteering with the Program Committee for many years to serving on the nomcom multiple times, running a SQL Saturday and even being a Board Member. I have experience in almost every area of PASS.  I have grown both personally and professionally during the time that I’ve spent in those roles.  The overall communities growth in all these years always inspires me to do more and I don’t see this year being any different.


Even though I don’t hold an official role (at this moment in time) with PASS.  I will still be giving back to the SQL Server community in 2015.  I plan on starting a local user group in South Houston.  I admit that I should have started this at least 6 months ago but I’ve put it off.  2015 will be the year the Houston area gets a second user group and if you want to attend or help, let me know!  In addition, I will be helping to host a SQL Saturday in Houston early next summer.  I will also commit now to making actual use of this SQL blog in 2015 instead of it being a landing page for what has to be the worlds largest amount of SPAM (thanks askimet!).  Whenever there is a discussion on PASS and its future, you can be sure that I will be involved in it on some level.  I hope to encourage others to volunteer as I have and foster a new group of leaders in the SQL Server community.


Thanks again to everyone who participates  in the SQL Community, you all are really what its all about!

Wrapping up my campaign

Just do it!

According to the published timelinethe 2013 iteration of the PASS Board elections will be over in just a few hours.  As I wrap up this year’s campaign I wanted to send out a huge thank you to the SQL community members who have supported me in my endeavor to have a second term on the Board.  I am humbled to have such a great and supporting group of friends and colleagues.

I hope that my writings have proven helpful by detailing my visions for PASS and that you have already chosen to select my name on the ballot.  However, if you haven’t voted yet, or just haven’t seen enough of my ideas for making PASS a better place, please check out my elections page for plenty more information.

I’m Allen Kinsel, I hope you’ll vote for me and I approve this message

My PASS Network

When I started volunteering for PASS nine years ago I was focused on contributing and helping where I could. I met a few people, volunteered some more, met a few more people, and somehow before I knew it I was serving on the PASS Board.  I learned a lot, tried to help people where I could, had a lot of fun and without thinking about it much at all, had built a network

Once I had decided to run for the board again I decided to ask my network, the people I’ve worked with, for their help in my campaign.  I asked for help reviewing my application, for help preparing for the NomCom interview, and I asked, awkwardly and reluctantly, for their public endorsements.  I am lucky enough to have had many of them answer my call for help and I am humbled by what many of them have said publicly about my efforts and PASSion for PASS.  It would be impossible for me to say that I’m not thrilled in getting these pillars of our communities support for my campaign but the reality is I am equally as happy to know that each of them have recognized the work and effort I’ve put forth for PASS over the years.

Here are a few hand selected quotes from my supporters writings 🙂

Karen Lopez:

“Allen Kinsel should be your very first vote for the PASS Board. His passion for the community and chapters is perfect. In fact, he continued his volunteering and continued to work on Board-level projects during his brief time off the Board”

Andy Warren

“We were colleagues for a year during his first term on the Board and I found him to be hard working, thoughtful, and always willing to listen to other points of view – exactly the qualities a Board member needs!”

Andy Leonard

“Allen has a good sense of the inner workings of the PASS Board. He brings extensive experience with the SQL Server Community, as well.  I think both are important, and that’s why I’m voting for Allen.”

Tom Larock

“Allen Kinsel’s dedication and passion for the members of the PASS Community is second to none.”

Grant Fritchey

“I absolutely believe that Allen has the best interests of this organization at heart. He wants to make a difference for the better. More than that, I’ve seen him working as a volunteer within the organization where he does make a difference, does make things better. He brings passion to the job.”

Allen White

“as head of the Chapter program has helped countless user group chapters come into being and thrive. I think this success warrants a return to the board.”


Rob Farley

“There are few people who can influence PASS like Allen Kinsel. The impact that he while had on the board before was nothing short of remarkable. I’ll be voting for Allen because I know he will serve the community wholeheartedly, throwing his all behind making the SQL community stronger.”

Jeremiah Peschka

“Allen is hard working, thoughtful, and dedicated to making PASS a great organization for the members”

Brian Kelley

“Allen knows how to do the job, can do the job, has the experience for the job, and the passion for the job. I can’t say that about any other candidate, as good as they are. That’s a key reason Allen stands out to me”

Wayne Snyder

“There are a couple of things I look for in a Board Member for PASS. Long Term Committment to the community and to PASS, whatever you promise – you must deliver, demonstrated ability to work with and motivate other community leaders, and PASSion. Allen has shown all of these traits during his long experience with our organization and our volunteers and will make an excellent Board Member.”

Aaron Bertrand

“I’ve known Allen for several years and I’ve always admired and respected the passion and dedication he has for the community.”

Patrick LeBlanc

“The thing that stands out the most is his passion and commitment to PASS and the SQL Server community as a whole”

Tim Mitchell

“He is a shoot-straight Texan who is not afraid to speak up even if what he has to say is unpopular”

Jack Corbett

“More was accomplished for local groups in Allen’s time leading that portfolio than in any other time period during my involvement with PASS. Allen’s passion for the PASS mission to Connect, Share, and Learn drives him to cut through the red-tape and get things done”



Dividing The Effort Pie

During my earlier term on the Board I struggled to keep up with all of the opportunities that came along to contribute.  I had projects within my portfolio I wanted to get chartered, projects in other portfolios that interested me, and plenty of intra-Board discussions where participation is vital. It’s was incredibly easy to find myself working 15 hours a week or more on top of my day job.  It’s absolutely about time management, but also about making some decisions about what you care about most. The method I found that worked for me before and that I plan to use again is to look at every task and map it into one of the three key areas (AKA:  slices of pie).  Let me walk you through what those look like.

Tactical portfolio level

This is what I like to call immediate term work.  Typically when joining the Board a Director is assigned a portfolio, given some resources and tasked with being its steward.  Depending on the portfolio and its current state this can either be a huge assignment or a rather minor one.  As a new director it’s very easy to get sucked in to spending all of your time working on things in this area.  While this is admirable, the problem is the organization still has needs in the other areas, particularly the longer term vision.

General PASS Improvements

Things I group into this area are generally not immediate term but, closer to short/middle term.   When I group things in to this category, they are typically things PASS is looking to do within the next year or two and have a limited longer term impact on the organization.  I would include things in this group like approving a budget, deciding to have a second Business Analytics Conference, or whether there should be a SQL Rally in a certain location.

Board & Governance issues

This is the last major category of time I use.  It’s easily overlooked and critically important to the long term viability of the organization.  Governance is typically boring and filled with minutiae but it is absolutely critical for a Board member to continue to look into the future and make decisions now that put the organization in a favorable position.  During my previous tenure on the board global growth, business analytics strategy and restrictions on company BOD representation fell into this category


I know that if I’m elected I won’t be able to do it all. I’m going to have to make choices and I’ll make the choices that I think serve PASS over the long(er) term.

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


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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