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More Free Time - PASS Board of Directors

Well I have to say I’m surprised. It’s always hard to get a rejection, and I’m not quite sure what to think of it.

I was rejected from the slate for the 2011 PASS Board of Directors, so I won’t be running this fall in the election.

I guess I’ll have more free time than I thought in 2011.

My rejection letter (relevant parts):

PASS is a volunteer organization.  Volunteers who do much of the work for the community do so because they feel valued and appreciated. An effective board member must be able to work with volunteers from all levels of expertise and commitment.  It is the board members responsibility to lead and encourage volunteers. While the NomCom continues to be impressed by your passion and support for the SQL Server Community, questions were raised during the interview regarding your ability to effectively work with volunteers in an executive capacity. The limited work you had on PASS committees was a factor in the NomCom’s decision.

UPDATE: I have included the full text of my communications with PASS here

The Voice of the DBA

Steve Jones is the editor of SQLServerCentral.com and visits a wide variety of data related topics in his daily editorial. Steve has spent years working as a DBA and general purpose Windows administrator, primarily working with SQL Server since it was ported from Sybase in 1990. You can follow Steve on Twitter at twitter.com/way0utwest


Posted by Patrick LeBlanc on 18 August 2010

Hmmmm.  Not what I expected.

Posted by Gethyn Ellis on 18 August 2010

Hey Steve that's a shock...PASS' loss.

Posted by Stephen Jones on 18 August 2010

Wow, I am shocked. Before I knew there was a SQL community your name was one of a handful I was familiar with. I thought you would have been a perfect fit for this.

Posted by Glenn Berry on 18 August 2010

I am also surprised by that decision. On the other hand, you have been fairly critical of PASS quite a few times in the past, so perhaps that perception worked against you?

I think the PASS Board would be better off with you on the board.

Posted by Jack Corbett on 18 August 2010

I have to say I'm surprised and not at all happy about it.  You've shown much leadership in the community and obviously the NomCom did not consider the amount of time you spend working with volunteers a the editor/moderator with SQLServerCentral.  As Gethyn said, this is PASS's loss.

Then again maybe keeping you outside will be better for PASS because you'll still be able to call them on decisions that are made.

Posted by Wesley Brown on 18 August 2010

So, you can start something like SQL Saturday from scratch and help get it going coast to coast along with Andy and Brian but can't work with volunteers at an executive level? You then hand it to them on a silver platter? I don't think I've ever been this unhappy with PASS as an organization.

Posted by Matt Velic on 18 August 2010

I'm sorry, Steve. Just like was mentioned above, I found my initial information about SQL Server and the community through your work here on sqlservercentral.com, so I'm a little surprised as well. But as Jack mentions, not being on the Board also has its positives too.

Posted by Brent Ozar on 18 August 2010

Hmm, that's a head-tilter.  The line "questions were raised during the interview regarding your ability to effectively work with volunteers in an executive capacity" seems to suggest you can't lead a group of volunteers - like you can't delegate work.  While I do want PASS to push delegation, I gotta wonder about this one.

I feel for you, man.  I know it's soon to say this, but I hope you run again.  I hope you don't change, though - I wouldn't want to see you making changes to what's worked for you so far.

Posted by jonathan allen on 18 August 2010

PASS just went down in my estimation. Hard luck Steve.

Posted by torpne on 18 August 2010

that's amongst the most ridiculous decisions i've heard this year - quite honestly I'd have thought you'd be amongst the most obvious candidates - if its over being critical in the past as Glenn suggests, then the whole thing becomes suspect.. you can't just exclude someone for having differing opinions on how things should be run, thats the whole point of being on the board, so changes can be made.. not so they can maintain status quo with the illusion of possible change.

Posted by Karen Lopez on 18 August 2010

I can think of a million better ways to say what I hope they are trying to say.  What a poorly worded letter.

I remember reading the board requirements and thinking that they are awfully restrictive.  I get what their goals are (needing experience), but they are shutting out hundreds of thousands of people who might do a great job.

Local volunteering is completely different than international governance, which is what is needed at the executive board level.  Sure, it helps to have local board experience, but it should not be a Y/N requirement.  I know this because I've served on many volunteer boards over my career.  

I'm hoping what they meant to say was that while they were incredibly honoured by your decision to help out that your current organization experience doesn't technically meet their requirements and they were therefore forced to decline your generous offer... and that they hoped to rectify this soon.

Posted by Arie Jones on 18 August 2010

Yes.....because PASS commitees are the end all for judging whether you can work with volunteers?? Oh well, more free time for you! Was prepping to push the button for you once you were aanounced ...their loss!



Posted by pwright7776 on 18 August 2010

Wow that is surprising to hear that.  I agree with Brent and hope you run again and not to change or stop what your doing.  You are an exceptional asset to this community and personally I think you would make a good Board member.

Posted by AllenMWhite on 18 August 2010

Steve, I think they may be looking for people to "pay their dues" within the PASS organization - at least that's the way I read it. You have had a tremendous influence on the community and on PASS - heck, I first attended PASS because of your site - and they don't have that perspective when making the selection.

In any event, don't take it personally, because you've done great things for the community and will continue to do so!

Posted by AJ Mendo on 18 August 2010


I have been a member of SSC for many years. I don't remember when I joined (early 2000's?) but Brad had the site then.

You keep things humming along without so much as a hiccup.

Cudos dude!

Keep the faith

Posted by Andy Leonard on 18 August 2010

My first reaction is: I'm stunned. My second reaction? I'm not surprised. That's disappointing.


Posted by Aaron King on 18 August 2010

I read, "great job supporting SQL", "bad job supporting PASS".  I commend you on keeping your focus on SQL and not on PASS.

Posted by Andy Warren on 18 August 2010

I'm disappointed as well. I think the nomcom tried hard to apply the process we gave them, so the fault - in my personal view - is with the process, just not rich enough. I'll write more when I've had a chance to reflect some.

I would be disappointed - again, speaking just as me - if anyone elects to walk away from PASS because of this. Don't agree with PASS on this or any other issue? Fight the fight to change it!

Posted by Roy Ernest on 18 August 2010

PASS gotta be kidding us. The only thing I can think about why they would reject you is because you criticized them. But this is a shocker. They are supposed to act professional. PASS just lost their credibility in my eyes.

Posted by Nitya on 18 August 2010

Per PASS, someone with 20years of exp in leading teams makes a good candidate?

They are probably looking at some sales/marketing based volunteers?

No Andy Warren, No Steve Jones, No Brad McGehee

Shame on NomCom.

Posted by jcrawf02 on 18 August 2010

I'm with Brent, incredibly disappointed to hear that, but I sincerely hope that you run again, and that you don't back down on anything that you feel PASS should/should not do in the future. That is exactly what is needed in leadership of any organization, people who aren't afraid to stand up and fight the good fight.

For anyone on the board who is reading this after the fact, Steve has been PIVOTAL in my membership in PASS, my professional and technical development on many levels, and the work he does here at SSC has broadened my scope in many more ways than PASS as an organization has to this point. I consistently recommend that co-workers attend PASS-sponsered events, or point them to PASS online resources, due to the information that Steve has gathered and the trust I have in his opinions.

Although there were no 'bad' candidates on the slate, I considered Steve to be 'my' candidate (or at least one of them), and now will be re-evaluating the remaining choices.

Posted by wendyp on 18 August 2010

Well, bugger. Steve, you do a lot for the community and I hope you continue to be a man-behind-the-scenes. You obviously still have LOTS of support from the masses :)

Posted by Ninja's_RGR'us on 18 August 2010

Have you asked them what you need to do differently (in their view).

As for your past critics, that's exactly what I'd be searching for to move my organisation forward... I can't see that as a big problem...

Posted by Jorge Segarra on 18 August 2010

As many others have already stated, this seems like a pretty crap move on PASS' part. Each time I hope that the organization is taking another step in the right direction they shoot themselves in the foot (in the PR sense) by passing down a decision like this that seems highly political rather than what is best for the organization as a whole. Steve, you've done a fantastic job in the community and I really hope you give this another run in the future as it's fairly obvious you're the kind of person we, the members of PASS, actually want to see in charge. Decisions like this seem kind of like a slap to the face to the membership.

Posted by Adam Machanic on 18 August 2010

This sucks. Big time. Not only am I shocked by this decision, but I was already planning to vote for you. You would have been a perfect fit in my not so humble opinion. This is a terrible decision on the part of those who made it.

Posted by Noel McKinney on 18 August 2010

This is like someone winning the popular vote but not becoming President, like that could ever hap... oh wait.

I was really looking forward to voting for you. I hope you give it another try someday, but either way thanks so much for all you've done for the community. I'm just one of many who has benefited in uncountable ways from years of visits to SQL Server Central, SQL Saturdays, and all your other contributions.

Posted by Robert L Davis on 18 August 2010

Really disappointed in their decision, but not completely surprised. Maybe they should add a "Write-in" spot on the ballots like real political elections have.

Posted by Dukagjin Maloku on 18 August 2010

What to say after 26 comments with same nature, simple TOO BAD & disappointed!

Posted by Arnie Rowland on 18 August 2010

That SUCKS Steve, I feel for you. I recall that a couple of years ago, I was actively recruited by a couple of Board members to consider involvement, and received a similar letter. To me, there seemed to be a 'put down' in the way it was expressed. Something about the process, and the communications, stinks greatly and needs to be changed.

Posted by chuckboycejr on 18 August 2010

This gets to the whole point made by Geoff Hiten last year:

this is a community organization.  Isn't it?

Posted by chuckboycejr on 18 August 2010

We need a Tea Party within the SQL community, or as Karen Lopez said - a TSQLParty!

Posted by Greg Edwards on 18 August 2010

No write ins?

Make your own. ;>)

Greg E

Posted by dyfhid on 18 August 2010

Steve, What can I say that hasn't already been said. I read Stuart Ainsworth's blog before I read all these comments, and I can see that there was some effort made by the NomCom. I wish they could divulge more, but they can't. I am sorry, I, too, was getting ready to vote for you, and like Brent and others above, I hope you run again in the future. Meantime, thanks for all you do for the community, and i hope you kep doing it, so we can thank you for years to come.

Posted by Tim Mitchell on 18 August 2010

Disappointed but not surprised.  Keep out the boat rockers we must :(

Posted by Jason Brimhall on 18 August 2010

Not a lot to add that hasn't been said.  I disagree with the decision.  However, maybe it is for the better.  It is good as an organization to have people that will voice their opinion from the outside.  That is good when it is a respected person.  It gives some perspective and maybe they were afraid you would toe the line after getting on PASS?

Maybe just maybe?

Posted by Brad M. McGehee on 18 August 2010

While I did not submit my application for nomination to the PASS board for the most recent two years, I had for the previous two years, and I was turned down both times. I passed the initial application process, and I was interviewed, but that was as far as I got. Welcome to the ever-growing group of people who the PASS board has rejected.

Posted by Steve Jones on 18 August 2010

Thanks for the kind words and support. I will decline to comment further, but I have put a clarification here: www.sqlservercentral.com/.../in-the-interests-of-transparency.aspx

Posted by Timothy Ford on 18 August 2010

Join the not so exclusive club Steve. I find I can contribute more as a non-Board volunteer than a a Board Member.  One of the reasons I decided not to run again after last year's fiasco.  The crop of candidates is still good though;  just less-strong with your absence.

Posted by TheSQLGuru on 18 August 2010

Steve, I consider you to be much like myself - a VERY straight shooter who isn't afraid to "callem' like you see 'em".  I wonder if that played a part in their decision.  There are plenty of people out there who are leery of that type of person and who feel that they may not be able to 'play well with others' because of directness.  And it some cases they are correct - some people shouldn't be in a position of authority/management.  I personally believe you Steve, are not one of those people!!

One last comment:  I really applaud the way you are handling this.  Kudos to you.  I am confident and very greatful that you will continue your WONDERFUL efforts for the SQL Server community!

P.S. I will hoist a cold one in your honor at the Nashville SQL Saturday this weekend. :-D

Posted by Joe Webb on 19 August 2010

Hey Steve -

I'm surprised and disappointed that you won't be on the slate this fall. I agree with Allen on this though. I think that with all of the really qualified candidates that put their name in the hat this year, it probably came down to how much time each had worked with a PASS Committee. Apparently others have spent more time. Please don't get discouraged or take it personally. And please do consider running again. You'd make an excellent board member in my estimation.


Posted by Grant Fritchey on 19 August 2010

I am well and truly bummed. I realize that the nominating committee voted based on rules, but I strongly suspect there must have been some kind of bias in interpreting the rules in order to have eliminated you, Steve. I won't be changing my own relationship with PASS over this, but I really do feel that they have probably alienated people, again, for no good reason, again... I'm just disappointed and saddened. But, Steve, it's PASS' loss.

Posted by Michael Coles on 16 September 2010


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