Jen’s Diary: Figuring it out – Virtual Chapter Pathways

Ok. Here goes.

Disclaimer: I don’t speak on behalf of PASS, only the Exec Committee can do that.

I want to thank everyone, just from myself, for all their patience and support for the past week. You know who you all are, and I wanted to say thank you to folks, too many to list here, who have helped me personally.

Here’s one way I’m giving back: a webinar series where you can drop by and ask questions. The focus will be on Virtual Chapters. We have an agenda to go through, but I’m happy to take questions on other things as well. I’m no Oracle (pun intended, sorry!) and I don’t speak on behalf of PASS. I’m accessible at these webinars (link to register below), and also during PASS Summit, to serve the community where possible.

Virtual Chapter Leaders Pathway

On 9th September, I wrote to all of the VC leaders to announce a ‘Virtual Chapter Leaders Pathway’, which would involve separate training sessions, held by myself. The email was below.
In the meantime, I have been collating feedback and it has also been fairly busy recently as many of you are aware.

Regarding the Virtual Chapters, we rely on GoToWebinar, the PASS websites and YouTube to deliver our Virtual Chapter sessions to the community worldwide.

I had identified that people needed help with these technologies, hence I am devising the Virtual Chapter Pathway. There was a slight delay from 9th September because I have collated feedback, and I need to priories which queries and issues to tackle and in which order.

This isn’t a small task to arrange all of this training, and deliver it myself – however I believed it was the right thing to do, and I was happy to devote my time to it, and invest my effort to do it well.

Note that I will be building on existing PASS HQ materials to do this. I’d like to thank and recognise their efforts in helping the community. Each and every one of them have been outstanding. You can find their resources page here, if you are a PASS VC or CL.

 You can see from the email below that I also offered to work with people in-person. Remember I will have travelled thousands of miles to attend Summit, and I’m spending time helping VC leads at the CZ during PASS Summit rather than socialising, or simply wandering around in Seattle in the US as a tourist or a visitor to the United States. People have taken up the offer of help and I am really glad to deliver it, because my primary reason for being there is to help you guys in the community, and I work hard at it.

If there are any VC issues, I am happy to hear about them but I can’t do anything about it until you tell me, so please feel free to get in touch. My email is It’s what I’m here for, so please don’t hesitate to ask questions or just drop by to the session. I need to work out the schedule, and I will post that up in due course.

Here is a note of the plan to date.

Note that these sessions are open to anybody, not just PASS Virtual Chapter leaders and co-leaders. I am happy to bring people along the journey as well.

We will have four sessions – subject to change, depending on user feedback.

Please click on the link to register.

Virtual Chapter Padawan – GoToWebinar

Virtual Chapter Jedi – GoToWebinar

Virtual Chapter Pathway – Managing Your Chapter website

Virtual Chapter Pathway – Soft Skills for VC Leadership

Other actions:

I understand that some of the VCs sometimes have problems in getting speakers. To help here, I’m going to try and get an MVP or a Microsoft ‘go-to’ contact for each VC to see if we can get people from Microsoft speaking for the Virtual Chapters.

I understand that VCs grow and you need more volunteers. If this is the case, please let me know. I have a ‘waiting list’ of people who want to be VC leads and co-leads, and I might be able to get you some help.

The sessions will go up on YouTube at a later date.

The email to the VC leads went out on 9th Sept, and the text follows here:

Hello Virtual Chapter leaders and co-leaders,
I can see everyone’s enthusiasm and pride in the Virtual Chapter program that you provide to the SQL Server community, and I wanted to say ‘thank you’ from me for all that you do. I love looking at the PASS website and seeing all of the sessions on the front page, and every time I do, I’m grateful and awed for all that you do for the ‘sqlfamily’.
To help everyone, I’m going to put a ‘VC Leadership Training Pathway’ in place to help people out. I am going to try to address your issues and queries in a live webinar series, which you’ll be invited to, and I will also record for sharing and future reference. I’d also like to share ideas on promoting your VC through social media such as Facebook pages, YouTube and so on.
So, if you have niggles about GTW, or the website, then please let me know and I will try to make sure that they are covered. I’d also like to share ideas on promoting your VC through social media such as Facebook pages, YouTube and so on.​

To help me to help you, could you please let me have any ‘pain points’, issues or queries that you have with GoToWebinar, the websites and so on? I will compile a list, and we will try and go through them.
I will also arrange some time for going through any issues individually at the Community Zone at PASS Summit. I will also be there at defined times so I can help you out in-person.

PASS Elections 2014: my personal thoughts


  • I am not endorsing any particular candidate
  • I will not endorse any particular candidate
  • I’ve written this out in the order of the NomCom ranking
  • I wasn’t asked by anyone to write anything
  • I don’t represent PASS by writing this blog. Or any other blog, for that matter.
  • This is purely my personal opinion and you can take it or leave it, but thank you for reading anyway!
  • This is simply the world view from ‘Planet Jennifer’.


Firstly, I want to wholeheartedly thank all the candidates for standing. I think that you should, too. They are all incredibly talented people who want to give extra to their community.

Secondly, please use your vote. Be part of the community. As we saw last year, every vote counts and it doesn’t take much to make a difference.

Next, I’m writing this blog to draw attention to what I see as the most positive things about the candidates.

Each candidate has different viewpoints and emphases, but they all have the following characteristics: they are community-oriented, helpful, smart, and they all want to serve PASS. It is not an easy role and it is hard work. They are brave individuals who are putting themselves forward to do a hard role, and they should be thanked for that by everyone who makes use of the PASS offerings. Simply for taking the risk and putting themselves out there to help, they each deserve a pat on the back.

In the order of the NomCom rankings, here are some real positives about the individuals involved:

James Rowland-Jones – James has been the voice of the sponsor. To do this, he has successfully leveraged his insights from this role which he’s held at SQLBits for some time now, plus the financial responsibilities of running his own business. This is stuff that the community doesn’t see, and I’d like to highlight here that this is unseen work that is vital. I like the fact that James is willing to choose whatever he sees needs to be done, rather than selecting his input based on whether it is going to obtain visibility.

Sri Sridharan is the voice of the volunteer. Sri stands for volunteers taking a big role in shaping the organization. This means looking after existing volunteers, and growing the new generation of volunteers who want to adopt leadership roles in our community. This is across the community: SQLSaturday, SQLRally, Chapters and so on. The Volunteer portfolio is wide-reaching and touches many volunteers. Sri’s message is to transform the culture of the organization to be more feedback- and community-driven. He has a vision building on the work he’s done so far, focusing on the volunteers, who are the ‘lifeblood’ of the organization.

Wendy Pastrick is, for me, the voice of the DBA. She is an energetic volunteer who has done every single PASS Volunteer role I can think of! She was a past winner of the PASSion Award, and she is the current holder of the Chapter portfolio.  Wendy is very passionate about PASS’s core mission to “connect, share and learn.” Wendy wants to reach out to younger potential members of the community, for example, by building a bridge from higher education institutions to PASS. There is an untapped resource in bringing college and secondary education students into the PASS fold. It would be extremely beneficial for young WIT to be encouraged by being introduced to PASS community role models early in their career, since research has shown that young women can be encouraged by having older female mentors and role models. Wendy has also seen PASS grow to embrace Business Intelligence as part of its offering to help sqlfamily to connect, learn and share.

Like Wendy, Grant Fritchey is, for me, the voice of the DBA. I think Grant’s focus is on general growth across all portfolios; enabling existing portfolios to continue to focus on building the excellent education which PASS are renowned for. Grant has been a prolific and solid community contributor for almost a decade now and has been an MVP for six years. Grant has served in a lot of different PASS roles.

Truthfully, I would be eager and happy to serve my second year alongside all of these candidates. I can tell you that being on the Board is consuming of time, and energy. You end up doing a lot of unseen work that perhaps doesn’t come across that we do work incredibly hard. I’m not even sure how to explain a lot of this stuff to Microsoft team who work with the MVPs, and often I don’t even remember what I did, just that I was busy!

I’ve no doubt that  these individuals are solid and robust enough for the journey, and it is a journey to cherish and to be valued because you can really help people to ‘connect, learn and share’ and that is a responsibility. They all bring something different to the table for the community, and that’s something that uniquely reflects our diverse community that we hope to serve as well as we can.

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