With Redgate planning to donating the SQL Saturday brand, trademarks, and domain to a non-profit foundation, there is a need to build a group of individuals to voluntarily manage the organization. Redgate has tasked me with the initial work, and as I work through this process, I am looking to provide some transparency into how this works for now.
NOTE: This is for the initial board, as someone has to make the first decisions. I expect the board themselves to decide how future directors are chosen, with input from the community.
There are a lot of people, including myself, who have been unhappy with the way that the previous organization’s board of directors functioned. The combination of a contracted managing director and restrictive bylaws resulted in far too little transparency over the years. At least, that is my view.
Moving forward, my vision for the foundation is to not recreate an organization that mandates, but rather serves the community, in an open, transparent way. There should be a minimal budget, and no compensation for directors, and no full-time staff.
I am trying to think aloud here, as I work through this process. None of these items have been decided, and I welcome advice and thoughts from others.
I also welcome interest and nominations. If you are interested, please leave a comment, or contact me. If you think someone else deserves nomination, please contact them first and ask them to contact me. I do not want to pressure anyone to serve that might not wish to or be able to donate time.
Qualities for Directors
I want to outline a few things that I think are important in finding individuals that can serve the foundation and steer it into the future.
One of the things that bothered me with the previous organization is that there was not enough guidance on what directors would do on a regular basis, and certainly not enough information on what they had done. To me, this means that one of the main qualities for anyone serving this foundation is that they freely and willingly share information.
My goal is that as close to 100% of debate and discussion, as well as financial information, be publicly available.
Much of my career has been US focused, though that has really changed in the last decade. When we started SQL Saturday, we didn’t think about the world outside the US, but many events under the SQL Saturday banner have been outside the US.
We need diverse thought on the issues that organizers and events face.
This means a diversity of not only geography, but gender, race, orientation, and more. We need to understand that each of us only sees a small portion of the world, and only from our perspective. With that in mind, I aim initially aiming for a breakdown something like this:
- US – 3-4 directors (knowing I am representing Redgate, 1 of these spots is filled)
- EU – 2-3 directors
- APAC – 2-3 directors
- Rest of world – 1-2 directors
I would like to have a number of women on the board, as I truly value the different perspectives they bring. I’d also like to have someone of a different race, ethnicity, or orientation than myself.
If you know of someone that you feel fits this goal, please ask them to contact me.
I have read Steph Locke’s Lessons learnt on the PASS Board, which I think anyone who cares about this should read. She outlines a number of items, which are important in most boards. While I think that the need to fund the organization is important, when this is the main goal, this becomes a problem. Directors should have some business sense, having either run their own company, or served as a high level executive in some company, however large or small, so that they do treat financials with the appropriate importance.
The goal of this foundation is to run itself on less than US$10,000/year. Any sponsorship funds will go towards events, not expenses.
This foundation will exist to further SQL Saturday events, providing resources and assistance where possible. Directors should be oriented towards doing good for others by supporting education and networking, giving back to the world, and driving events forward. While they will not do the work, they will be the voice and inspiration for many through this foundation.
A director ought to be thinking: how do I get more organizers excited enough to create an event? How can we better support speakers? How do I attract and serve attendees to learn and grow their careers? How can we ensure events feel successful, whether physical or virtual, whether there are 50 or 500 attendees, whether there is one track or 12?
These are the goals of the foundation.
While I started my list thinking about people that are thoughtful, measured in their words, and giving of themselves, that was really the bar of what I was looking for. Finding other qualities outside of these are likely more important.
I have asked a few people if they are interested, to start getting a short list together. Ultimately myself and a few at Redgate will have to make some decisions about who to choose. We’ll appoint an initial board and then let them run the foundation as they see fit, including deciding on how the next set of directors are chosen.
I haven’t named any names, as I’m not sure it’s fair, and I don’t want to put any pressure on anyone.
If you are interested in shaping the future of SQL Saturday, please let me know. I have a list, but I’m sure there are people I haven’t considered. If you think someone is a good candidate, encourage them to contact me.
Above all, remember this is a community first effort, and we’re looking for people that feel the same way.