Posts tagged Volunteer
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
- Improved Board Communications
- Improvements to the Website – Chapter Tools Support
- SQL Rally US Decision for FY13
- Supported Global Growth
- Elections process Improvements
- Classifying & Moving Profit into Reserves
- Created a broader volunteer recognition program
- Supported creating and enhancing the community evangelist role
- Voted to move the Summit out of Seattle in 2013
- Supported in house building of core event applications
- Built a partnership for mobile event platform – Guidebook
- Added 1/2 day session to the Summit
- Expanded the role of volunteers in the Program Committee
- Created a process to allow community voting of sessions at the Summit
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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+).
In 2011 I created a new summit session type that has thus far proven to be a great addition to the event
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.
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.
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.
- 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
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
As PASS Director of Chapters, I had my first set of meetings a few weeks ago where every Chapter Leader worldwide was invited and thought I’d write a quick post about it.
Getting up to speed in a new PASS portfolio and having something good to talk about takes time so this meeting took a lot longer to materialize than I’d originally hoped. The primary delay was it took quite a while to get enough good content that I felt comfortable inviting 300+ chapter leaders to give an extra an hour of their lives to PASS. Now that the initial break in time is handled and I know we’re making solid progress towards improving PASS’s support of Chapters (I’ll have stuff to talk about that matters) We’ve agreed to schedule these update meetings quarterly. This is in addition to the update meetings we’ve already been having bi-monthly with Regional mentors and the Bi-Monthly(ish) Chapter update emails/blog posts Ive already been doing.
Global Organizations = Follow the sun = Hard
Trying to find a time (or 2) that accomidates 300 different people is extremely challenging, In the past we’ve held Regional Mentor meetings at 9AM CST and 9PM CST in an effort to allow as many RM’s as possible to participate. We’ve had varrying degrees of success and quite a few requests to have a time that better fits those in the EMEA region. So we decided to move the initial time of the Chapter leader meeting to 6AM CST leaving the 9PM CST meeting in place. This seemed to work out OK but, being ready to present at 6AM local time was tougher than I expected, combine that with a PASS site that wasnt working properly and the first meeting went less than spectacularly. In the future we’ll probably move the morning meeting back to 9AM CST and offer a third meeting option in the middle of the day that better supports those in EMEA. The meetings are recorded and posted online for all to chapter leaders so theres always that option as well. Im open to other ideas about timings of these meetings so If your a RM or a Chapter leader and have an opinion feel free to contact me to share it.
Chapter Leader Resources
Karla (Blog|Twitter) has been working incredibly hard to update the Chapter Leaders resources page. She has made many updates and changes to this Chapter leader only page, one of the largest changes mentioned is related to the new process that book publishers are asking PASS Chapters to use. Im optimistic that the new process will help Chapters get a better selection of books in a shorter amount of time. Karla also added a new Chapter logo as a resource on this page.
Chapter Tools Project
A good portion of time was spent going over the changes in tools that have been rolled out for chapters.
The aim of this project is for PASS to provide effective tools to minimize the marketing work Chapter Leaders have to perform and increase reliability of records all while creating a one-stop shop of resources to efficiently promote and run a PASS Chapter.
To date, weve completed updates to the chapter newsletter emailer, created a chapter dashboard and created an events framework for chapters to use in displaying their meetings. The events framework is the latest update, it is currently used on the chapters portal, and although its currently a v1 release it handles many things chapter leaders let us know they wanted like Auto archiving of meeting details, Auto populating Speaker info, timezone display differences, uploads and more. There are several other hooks planned in the future for this events framework but this should provide a good starting infrastructure as we build more on to it.
Community Meetings at the Summit
Also covered were the community meetings at the summit. If you’re a PASS community leader one or more of these is likely for you!
VIRTUAL CHAPTER LEADERS
Tuesday, November 6
8:00 am – 9:00 am
Led by Denise McInerney
Tuesday, November 6
9:30 am – 12: 30 pm
Led by Kendal Van Dyke
Tuesday, November 6
1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Led by Allen Kinsel
Tuesday, November 6
2:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Led by Allen Kinsel and Regional Mentors
At the begining of this year, I gave the reigns of the annual summit program committee to Adam Jorgensen (Blog|Twitter) and I havent looked back… Much! Of course after being involved with a system for so many years its hard to completely let go (ok its not really hard to forget the work!) but, aside from the occassional questions I havent really looked a lot at whats happening in the Program Committee this year. Id like to congratulate those volunteers lucky enough to be chosen to help select abstracts for the summit and if I knew your names, Id call you out but it seems the public listing of volunteers has been removed. You’ve got a daunting task to get through the 800 or so abstracts that im sure will be submitted but, without you, the summit would surely be a lot more bland!! For those of us would be speakers in the SQL Server space, I also noticed something that unless youve been living under a rock youve probably already seen as well. Abstract submissions need to be completed by Sunday May 13 AKA 5 days from NOW!. Since no time is specified I’ll make a wild guess (yes its truly a guess) and say they close at Midnight Pacific time. but why deopend on a guess, make sure to get those abstracts submitted sooner rather than later. It appears as though the wait to get the results of the selection will be over before it really starts as they are due to be released on Jun 8
Do you know someone in the PASS Community who is a hidden hero? Perhaps a chapter leader who is doing terrific work to help the SQL community. Maybe its a member who is putting in 110% to organize a SQL Rally. A virtual chapter leader who is organizing great sessions or perhaps its a speaker you’ve seen go above and beyond and speak at multiple chapters/virtual chapter events this month. There are so many people who contribute and make the SQL community so vibrant that finding those who stand out is tougher than ever!
These people are the lifeblood of the SQL Server community, they freely give of their time to make PASS the premiere SQL Server association and its about time we start recognizing them!
Since Ive been volunteering with PASS one thing that has always struck me is how rare it is that PASS actually recognizes outstanding volunteers. When I first joined, we only had the PASSion award which is awarded yearly at the Summit to the single volunteer who had the “most” outstanding contributions. In more recent years we’ve done a better job of recognizing additional people who are outstanding volunteers through the outstanding volunteers presentation at the Summit however, these volunteers all come from the passion award nominations and those nominations are only open just prior to the summit.
I’ve always thought that we should recognize volunteers across the organization in a more consistent way, and not revolve that recognition around the Summit. Luckily, the opportunity to do something about this lack of recognition knocked earlier this year and we’ve made progress. In last weeks connector there was an announcement about nominating volunteers to be recognized as outstanding volunteers of the month. The initial intent is that we’ll accept email nominations during every month for any volunteer who has made outstanding contributions to the community. Those submissions will be reviewed on the last day of the month and recognition will follow the next month. Initially, we are planning to recognize these outstanding volunteers with a nice certificate and highlight them in the connector newsletter. Its not much compared to what these people do day in and day out but with success over time, hopefully we can expand this a bit more. For a start though, I think this is a good first step down the right road.
We intend to have the first recognition cycle start in March so that means that submissions are due by 2/29 (tomorrow!) Please, take a moment and send us an email with as many details as possible about the contributions of an outstanding volunteer who has made an impact in the SQL community. As always with these types of things, the more details the better!