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The PASS Board of Directors election is coming up, so I sat down with Allen Kinsel (Blog@AllenKinsel) to get some insight. Allen knows first-hand.

Brent: The PASS Board of Directors election is coming. What exactly do Board members do?

allen-kinselAllen: Board Members set the direction and future vision for the organization. In a more perfect world they might solely be responsible for the strategic direction of the organization much as a typical corporate board of directors is but, because of the unique nature of the organization if a particular director has a passion for how a certain area of PASS should be different they can become quite tactical and put in the actual work to accomplish their goals.

Is it a full time job? How much commitment is involved?

Since it’s an unpaid position, thankfully it is not a full time job. The commitment level is what each director makes of it. If a director has a real passion for something and wants to get it done, they can invest literally as much time as they have to give In order to further their agenda. Otherwise the commitments are typically a few hours a week on average.

How many people are on the Board, and what kinds of backgrounds do they come from?

There are 14 members of the board though only 6 are directly elected by the membership. There are 4 additional board members placed from the founding partners (CA/Microsoft) and an additional 4 on the executive that are elected by the board every other year. The backgrounds of board members change after every election cycle but, typically about the only thing they all have in common is a love of SQL Server. Otherwise board members come from all backgrounds: technical, management, DBA’s, developers, Full time employees, consultants etc…

You’ve been on the Board – what was your favorite part?

My favorite part was certainly my final year of my term where I was able to make significant changes to the way PASS supports chapters and their leaders. Laying out a vision for enabling chapters to have a toolset that rivaled the tools we currently give SQL Saturday leaders and then executing on that vision and seeing how much easier it made new chapter leaders jobs was quite rewarding. I believe that given the support and another year the tools would have fully delivered their initial promise of being everything chapter leaders needed to run a chapter efficiently.

What do you think makes a good Board member?

Many things can add up to make a good Board member but if I had to put one thing on the list, it would be passion. For a person to be truly successful and get things done on the board they need passion. Passion fuels all the other needed aspects of the job. If I could add a second thing to that list it would be experience. As with all things, experience matters. Since experience on a board level is not the easiest thing to find on a resume, the first year serving for most board members can be quite daunting while attempting to find their way.

If you’re a community member looking at a ballot, how do you pick names? Most readers aren’t lucky enough to know people on the ballot personally.

If it is feasible voters should educate themselves on which candidates share their ideals through http://sqlpass.org/elections.aspx prior to voting. If that’s not feasible I would suggest a second good option is relying on the nominations committee’s vetting process to guide how your cast votes. Prior to being put on the ballot the candidates are vetted by a community led group (the nominations committee). Based on their rankings the candidates are listed on the ballot in the order of who they believe will be best for the position.

If somebody wanted to run for the Board a few years from now, what would you recommend they do to start building experience for it?

I’d recommend that they volunteer, get involved and participate in the #sqlfamily any way that they can. In order to truly understand the needs of the community you have to have the pulse of the community and a very effective way to do that is through participation.

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  1. In a more perfect world they might solely be responsible for the strategic direction of the organization much as a typical corporate board of directors is but, because of the unique nature of the organization if a particular director has a passion for how a certain area of PASS should be different they can become quite tactical and put in the actual work to accomplish their goals.

    Allen, I understand how having paid staff could help with certain aspects of pass. However, I’m a big believer in “if its important do it your damn self,” so I would see circumstances forcing the strategists to roll up their sleeves and implement the tactics as generally a good thing. Do you think that while less things get done due to the lack of hired underlings, the quality of what gets done is better because of the lack of disconnect between strategist and tactician?

  2. If it were only that simple! In general yes, if someone is passionate they produce better & of more quality no doubt. The difficulty is that because you want to do a certain thing yourself, you have to give up being able to do other things. For instance, looking after a larger goal/vision for the organization as a whole because you are heads down trying to “get something great done”. The flip side is actually quite good in that if you’re passionate enough and a good leader you can get others to share your passion (paid or not) and get things done well and quickly while still having time to look after the other strategic things on your plate

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