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PASS: The Legal Stuff

[cross-posted from Bill Graziano's blog at]

I wanted to give a little background on the legal status of PASS.  The Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) is an American corporation chartered in the state of Illinois.  In America a corporation has to be chartered in a particular state.  It has to abide by the laws of that state and potentially pay taxes to that state.  Our bylaws and actions have to comply with Illinois state law and United States law.  We maintain a mailing address in Chicago, Illinois but our headquarters is currently in Vancouver, Canada.

We have roughly a dozen people that work in our Vancouver headquarters and 4-5 more that work remotely on various projects.  These aren’t employees of PASS.  They are employed by a management company that we hire to run the day to day operations of the organization.  I’ll have more on this arrangement in a future post.

PASS is a non-profit corporation.  The term non-profit and not-for-profit are used interchangeably.  In a for-profit corporation (or LLC) there are owners that are entitled to the profits of a company.  In a non-profit there are no owners.  As a non-profit, all the money earned by the organization must be retained or spent.  There is no money that flows out to shareholders, owners or the board of directors.  Any money not spent in furtherance of our mission is retained as financial reserves.

Many non-profits apply for tax exempt status.  Being tax exempt means that an organization doesn’t pay taxes on its profits.  There are a variety of laws governing who can be tax exempt in the United States.  There are many professional associations that are tax exempt however PASS isn’t tax exempt.  Because our mission revolves around the software of a single company we aren’t eligible for tax exempt status.

PASS was founded in the late 1990’s by Microsoft and Platinum Technologies.  Platinum was later purchased by Computer Associates. As the founding partners Microsoft and CA each have two seats on the Board of Directors.  The other six directors and three officers are elected as specified in our bylaws.

As a non-profit, our bylaws layout our governing practices.  They must conform to Illinois and United States law.  These bylaws specify that PASS is governed by a Board of Directors elected by the membership with two members each from Microsoft and CA.  You can find our bylaws as well as a proposed update to them on the governance page of the PASS web site.

The last point that I’d like to make is that PASS is completely self-funded.  All of our $4 million in revenue comes from conference registrations, sponsorships and advertising.  We don’t receive any money from anyone outside those channels.  While we work closely with Microsoft we are independent of them and only derive a very small percentage of our revenue from them.


PASS Resources Revealed

[cross-posted from Allen Kinsel's blog at]

What has PASS been up to?

Ever find yourself with tons of extra time just looking for something to dig through?

yeah, me neither… But, I do make it a point to go out and read through lots of PASS documents regularly.  Sure, Some of those documents are not for public consumption but, a large portion of them are available for any PASS Member to view.  Almost all of them will require you to be logged in to the PASS site.

A good starting point is the PASS Governance Page <- lots of good stuff hides on this page, Im working on getting this page removed from behind the login wall

PASS BOD Meeting Minutes are posted on the left hand side

The Feb 2011 Minutes are here

  • Good discussions in here about Globalization of PASS, especially revolving around events

The Jan 2011 Minutes are here

  • This was an in-person meeting and there is a literal ton of info in here.  Highlights are  globalization, Summit 2011 Planning, Summit 2010 Post mortem, 5 Year plans, Bylaw Changes

PASS Monthly Reports are found in the middle on the left

These are gems that reveal the day to day inner workings of the BOD and HQ

The Feb report should be posted in the next day or 2

The Jan report however, is here

  • In here You’ll find things about Chapters, IT Projects, Marketing initiatives, ERC info, Sponsorship Sales, Summit Program, SQLRally, Gloablization, etc

The Dec report is here

  • This one contains things like Chapter info, HQ Finance, IT Projects, Marketing, Summit, Rally, 24hop, SQL Saturday,

The budget for PASS is included at the bottom of the governance page

2011 Budget is here

  • Wanna know where the money is supposed to be coming from, and where its supposed to be going?  this is where to look.
  • Side note: Im going to check into where the 2010 audited financials are, they should be available by now.

The SQL Rally has posted all of the planning meeting notes posted here

  • There is tons of good stuff in here, its especially interesting to me to watch the minutes back and forth dealing with very familiar problems as what I’ve seen in the Summit program group.
  • Wanna know how many attendees are registered so far for the Rally? yup its in there. Wanna know how many are in Precons?  yup its in there too

We (PASS Program) started posting meeting minutes near the lower left side of this page

  • I have written about these minutes before
  • Good information in here about many new changes that are being considered by the Program Committee
  • Essentially It says that I’m not getting nearly enough done for the program committee lately.  I need to work on that!


  • Im including this here because lost of good stuff gets posted here but, for me I can only find it since its in my RSS Reader.

In Summary, PASS releases a ton of information about what its doing.  The problem with this is two-fold, one its a ton of information.  Two, the information is spread out all over the place and is often difficult to find on the site using conventional browsing methods so I hope this helps

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This 24 Hours of PASS was "Different"

Last week, the latest iteration of "24 Hours of PASS" was held.  It was "Different" for me.  Why?  Because I was not an active participant on the days of the event other than being an attendee.  I was involved in some aspects of the planning for the event when deciding the theme and format, etc.  I was on many calls and email threads for the planning of this event.  I did the moderator/speaker training  a few weeks prior to the event.  But on the days that the event was actually held, I was not on pins and needles worrying about logistics. Tom LaRock, HQ, and the team of moderators did a great job of execution.  I attended as many sessions as I could.  The Moderators seemed to be well prepared and the speakers focused on delivering the content. In my view, this went very well.

With the theme of "Women in Technology" for this 24hop, PASS was able to showcase a positive force within the SQL Community.  The WIT luncheon at the PASS Community Summit keeps growing in popularity/attendance year after year.  The WIT Virtual Chapter continues this positive vibe throughout the year -

I enjoyed reading the "Twitter Stream" about #24hop.  I do not have numbers yet, but every session had at least 200-300 attendees and several topped 750!  Wow!

Each session was recorded and will be available for replay shortly.  Keep checking for replay availability.

A BIG "Thank You" goes out to the Speakers and Moderators who helped to make this latest edition of 24hop a success.  I enjoyed it immensely.


How deep can you dive?

[cross-posted from Allen Kinsel's blog at]

After last years Summit we launched a feedback site in hopes of gathering all of the feedback about the event in one place.  The number one thing people have asked for on that site is for there to be a track of sessions in the 400-500 level range.  The problems with the community desire for higher level sessions are twofold, one we dont normally get a huge number of session submissions that are at the 400-500 level.  Two, I’ve been told by those who are qualified to present those types of sessions that an hour and fifteen minutes (spotlight) is often not enough time.

Cramped for space

In the past our conference size has dictated the floor-plans at the conference center and we’ve been  maxed out at 14 concurrent sessions.  This year however, because of anticipated attendee growth, the logistical geniuses at PASS HQ were able to add another session room (I’m looking at you Anika and Craig).  With this new room I have options on what to do with the extra session rooms!!

Changes for the Summit 2011

This year we’ll be using the space we gained from the new room addition to have longer deep dive sessions.  The current idea is to offer these longer sessions in hopes that they will attract presenters who are qualified to present these deeper dive sessions. Currently, the plan is to have a maximum of 6 deep dive (lvl 400 or 500 only) 3 hour sessions.  Because of the way the schedule is laid out, we will run 2 of these sessions concurrently every conference day.

Rules… Yeah there’s always rules

We will accept abstracts for this new session type in the same manner as a regular abstract.  That is to say anyone can submit a half day abstract.  If you submit an abstract for a 1/2 day session it will count as one of your 4 allowed abstract submissions.  The session selection for these sessions will be handled by the regular respective abstract review teams.  Even though we are going to allow anyone to submit abstracts for these sessions, it should go without saying that if you don’t have prior experience or reputation for being able to give an extended, strong 400-500 level session it may be best to focus on a regular summit session.  What I mean by this is for these particular sessions we will be instructing the review teams to weigh the speakers perceived ability to deliver the session higher than we normally would for a regular session.

Possible Hiccups i.e. Changes

Two things could change with these sessions.

  • I am considering making the sessions 4 hours long (roughly 3 regular session slots).  If we do that the maximum number of sessions would drop to four.  I’m leaning heavily away from this but, if anyone has a strong opinion on this I’ll listen
  • Depending on the quantity and quality of the abstracts we receive, we may have less than the maximum sessions shown above (4 or 6)
  • Im still considering a single DBA 101 “Accidental DBA” type session for one of these sessions but havent been swayed that there is more interest there than there is in deep dives

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Women In Technology - Virtual Chapter Spotlight

In 2003 I attended my very first PASS Summit.  I was brand new to the world of MS SQL server, just having been asked to work towards becoming a junior DBA by a teammate, and I was there to learn everything I could in a short week about SQL Server.  At the time, I was the only woman on a team of 7, and the guys I worked with ran the gamut in regards to their attitudes towards me.  Depending on who you asked on my team, I was a secretary or a technologist, and their treatment of me went with the title they gave me.  Despite that, I didn’t feel that I faced roadblocks or extra challenges because I was female.

I distinctly remember my senior DBA suggesting that I attend the inaugural Women in Technology luncheon at Summit that year, and I declined.  I was there to learn – not have lunch with a bunch of women that might have spent the time moaning and groaning about how hard it is to be a WIT.  At least, that was my perception of the lunch at the time.  I can honestly say that I should have gone to that lunch in 2003, and I was dead wrong about what I perceived the WIT Luncheon and Virtual Chapter (VC) to be.

The WIT Luncheon and VC is anything but a group of women that complain about the attitudes and perceptions that make it hard for us to work in technology.  Instead, we are a vibrant group of technologists that focus on what it means to be a WIT, how to break down the barriers to girls entering technology fields, providing networking opportunities for WIT, and engaging the entire community to talk about perceptions and challenges that WIT face in the workplace. 

Historically, our focus has been the annual Luncheon at Summit.  Over the last couple of years we have worked hard to increase our core group of volunteers, which has allowed us to expand our reach beyond the Summit.  You can now find an organized WIT presence at most SQL Saturday events,  we are in the planning stages for a WIT presence at SQL Rally in May, and we are very happy to support the upcoming 24 Hours of PASS WIT edition March 15-16.

The WIT VC is always looking for more opportunities to engage in the PASS community and the IT community at large.  If you are interested in the work we do, or would just like to learn more about our group, send an email to or join us on our monthly conference call on the fourth Wednesday of the month. 

Additional information about our activities can be found at


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Who’s Attending Your SQL Saturdays?


At SQL Saturday #57 in Houston I sat in on Geoff Hiten’s [blog/twitter] “Bad SQL” session, which I had missed while at the Tampa event, and had heard it was a great presentation. (Sorry Geoff, this post isn’t about your session, although it was really good, I learned a lot). At the beginning of his talk, which I’ve seen many other presenters do, Geoff took a hand count of who was in the audience, DBAs versus Developers versus Something Else (that would be the one I fall into). More than half of the room was developers and only a handful actual DBAs. I knew that in Pensacola our experience has been along these same lines, both at our SQL Saturday events and our user group meetings, but I was surprised to see that a city the size of Houston seemed to show the same demographics in the audience. This really peeked my curiosity about what the numbers must be like globally.
When I returned back to Orlando, I logged into the SQL Saturday admin site, in hopes that there was a report I could pull to see just what the percentages were for attendance at the two Pensacola events. No such luck. Wrote to PASS HQ, asked if they happen to have a report handy, or better yet, were they already collecting these stats, and would be so kind to share those results. Again, unfortunately they did not. So, had to do some manual calculating, luckily in a spreadsheet it is easy to do, just a bit time consuming. (and yes, I put in a wish item to change the website to have checkboxes for job titles, so that a report could be produced neatly off the results, but certainly didn’t want to wait on that to get analyzing this data). With what I did have access to, here are the results of the two Pensacola events combined:
·         25% - Developers
·         23% - DBAs
·         16% - Analysts
·         11% - IT Help Desk/Support
·         10% - Other (teachers, students, unemployed, just to give you a general idea)
·         8% - Administrators
·         7% - CEO/CFO/MGMT
Now really this doesn’t surprise me, like I said, our user group meetings in Pensacola pretty much mirror these same results. And based on who is signed up so far for Hawaii SQL Sat, those numbers are already showing a much higher figure for developers. So why is this? Why are so many developers attending SQL Saturdays? My extremely humble opinion is that more and more companies are not affording true DBAs, hince the “accidental” DBAs, which I know for many companies this is the case. Developers are handling their own backup/restores, indexing, performance issues, etc (this is actually the case with the software development company where I work). Which leads me to another question, being I’m so involved with sponsorships for many events and user groups, why aren’t more developer tool vendors sponsoring SQL Saturdays? Seems to me the SQL Saturdays are pulling in just the right amount of crossover for them.
So as this post is titled, who is attending your SQL Saturdays? I’d really love it if you’d post some of your results here or blog about it, so we can compare, especially the larger cities versus the smaller ones. Is there a difference?  Would love to hear your thoughts on why you think more developers than DBAs are attending SQL Saturdays. I think the numbers will surprise a lot of you, not to mention, might help pull in more .NET tool vendors to sponsor SQL Saturdays! YES, I am ALWAYS wearing my marketing hat! You are SQL gurus, I am the community marketing guru backing all of you up…yes, cheesy pun not accidental.


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