So, I did some more reflecting after my last post and I’ve come up with some more reasons why PASS Summit 2011, in particular, was so great. Reason #4: Recognition of volunteers. I mentioned previously that volunteers are truly the life-blood of PASS. And if volunteering doesn’t totally suck the life out of you, then you may survive to be named the PASSion Award winner. This year’s recipient was Lori Edwards (twitter). Lori ran the Program Committee this year, so, yes, you have her to blame praise for the content at this year’s Summit. Next to being on the Board of Directors, running Program Committee is probably the most time-consuming task a volunteer could undertake. There were some 70 volunteers on Program Committee this year to review, select, schedule, and review again the hundreds of sessions submitted by hundreds of speakers in 6 different tracks this year. But someone is ultimately responsible for overseeing the coordination of all those volunteers and that was Lori. Thanks, Lori!
This year PASS also recognized additional “outstanding” volunteers: Jack Corbett (blog | twitter) and Tim Radney (blog | twitter). Jack was recognized for his leadership and work with PASS SQLRally 2011 in Orlando, the PASS Nomination Committee, the 2010 PASS Program Committee, and leading SQLSaturday #49 and OPASS (Orlando PASS Chapter). Tim was recognized for his leadership as a Regional Mentor to PASS Chapters, for leading the Columbus, Georgia, SQL Server User Group to a 50% attendance increase, for organizing SQLSaturday #89 and for speaking at other SQLSaturday events.
Reason #5: Fresh blood First-timers! Beginning with the PASS Summit 2010 conference, “first timer” and “alumni” ribbons were handed out to attendees. If you’ve never been to a PASS Summit, then you’ve missed experiencing “ribbon envy”. Attendees are provided ribbons to attach to their badges based on their various levels of involvement in the PASS community (that word again!). Board of Directors, Program Committee, MVP, Chapter Leader, Virtual Chapter Leader, etc. etc. etc. all designations get ribbons (each with its own color designation). If you attend a pre-con then you get a different colored ribbon for each day of pre-cons; and it seemed to go on and on this year with some creative attendees and vendors devising their own ribbons (Dr. Data, etc.).
But, I digress, back to the first-timers. This year, PASS expanded the First-Timer experience and provided Big Brothers and Big Sisters (alumni) to help steer the First-Timers fully into the community of PASS Summit. First Timers were put in touch with their Big Brothers/Sisters ahead of Summit so that they could ask questions about what to expect. In addition to the traditional orientation session, the newcomers had a special networking session with Don Gabor (website) prior to the Welcome Reception. Then, they were introduced into the Welcome Reception with flashing lights, loud music, and dry ice…with apologies and kudos at the same time to Thomas LaRock (blog | twitter), they were SQLRockstars! And they kept coming and coming and coming until between 800-1000 “first timers” filled the reception area wall-to-wall along with “alumni” attendees! According to Tom’s recap blog there were glitches and he wants to continue to improve the first timer experience, but from where I stood it was truly awesome for this “old timer”.
I hope that even just a few of this year’s “first timers” caught the volunteer bug that I caught back when I was a “first timer” in 1999. PASS needs you and PASS wants you to volunteer to serve! Seriously, like any organization, PASS needs a continual infusion of fresh ideas. If you are interested in volunteering with PASS, go here to learn more.