The First PASS Board, Day 0

The FirstPASS Board, Day 0


Many of you are aware that I’m currently serving as the president of the Professional Association for SQL Server ( through the end of 2005.  I have to admit that PASS has gone beyond a hobby or professional interest for me and is, in fact, one of my big passions these days. 


How did I get into this position?  


My first experience with professional user groups occurred in the early 1990s with IOUG – the International Oracle User Group.  IOUG did (and does) a good job of bringing together Oracle professionals to share and learn from one another.  Back in those days, I was working as a contractor on DOD projects in Huntsville, Alabama.  There weren’t many books or magazines about Oracle at the time and meeting other professionals was an exceptionally valuable way to get better at Oracle.  I spent the next few years working with Oracle and meeting at the local user group meetings.  All in all, it was a good introduction to international professional associations.


The initial funding for PASS came from a Chicago-based database tools company called Platinum Technologies under the leadership of Steven Vandor.  Platinum was a big supporter of user groups and community efforts in those days and was willing to ante up money for the cause.  Steve then went to Microsoft and convinced Paul Flessner, then the boss of the SQL Server business unit, to chip in the same amount of dough that Platinum had put in.  With money in hand, Steve then went to the leading professional association management company SmithBucklin & Associates (also based in Chicago) to set up the ‘official’ international user group for Microsoft SQL Server.


Later in the summer of 1998, I’d changed jobs and database platforms when the invitation came to join the PASS startup effort.  I was then working as lead DBA for SQL Server in the internal IT department of Deloitte & Touche in Nashville, Tennessee.  I was invited by colleague and “Transact-SQL Programming” co-author Andrew Zanevsky to join the board of directors for a newly forming international professional association for SQL Server.  (We weren’t even certain what it was going to be named at the time.)  Based on my current job responsibilities and the enthusiasm I had for user groups because of my experiences with IOUG, I jumped at the opportunity.


The board was made up of an interesting mix of people at the time, including a pretty good mix of corporate IT staffers and independent consultants.  Most people on the board were either well known in another major IT association like IOUG or SHARE, or were well known in the SQL Server world as book or magazine authors. 


My memory is pretty fuzzy now about exactly who was in that initial board.  But I recall most of the people. (Forgive me if I left your name out!)  Pam Smith, a VP of Systems Technology at Merrill Lynch, served as our first president.  Guy Brown, the lead DBA at Tate & Lyle, served as our Executive Vice President and CFO.  Steve Vandor was the liaison from Platinum.  (Platinum was then bought out by Computer Associates, though Steve stayed on as our liaison.)  Jacqui Borges was the liaison from Microsoft.  Other members of that first board, if memory serves me right, included Andrew Zanevsky, Karen Watterson (editor of SQL Server Professional magazine), Kalen Delaney (renowned author of “Inside SQL Server” and a favorite speaker at PASS events), Brian Moran (editor of the SQL Server Magazine UPDATE newsletter), and Tom Sager, a DBA at Louisville Gas and Electric.  Carol McGury was our Executive Director from SmithBucklin.


We met not long after that in the Chicago offices of SmithBucklin to discuss the initial structure and charter of the organization and, as all boards of directors do, argue!  But I’ll give details on those early days in another posting.


I hope this didn’t bore you too much.  J






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