by Swapnil Bhartiya

Open Source leader Nithya Ruff joins the Linux Foundation Board of Directors

Nov 02, 2016
LinuxOpen Source

Ruff is one of the strongest voices in support of women in open source. rn

Nithya Ruff, director of Western Digital’s Open Source Strategy Office, has joined the Board of Directors of the Linux Foundation. In addition to Ruff, the Linux Foundation has also appointed Erica Brescia, co-founder and COO of Bitnami and Jeff Garzik, co-founder of Bloq, to its Board of Directors.

Ruff runs the open source program office for WD and also leads the gender diversity efforts through the WD Women’s Innovation Network Board, which is an Employee-led group that advocates for women to achieve their highest potential in the company.

She is co-leader of the Women of OpenStack group and a liaison into the OpenStack Foundation, as well as a sponsor of the Women in Open Source (WIOS) Luncheons at Linux Foundation events and she is an active leader of WIOS advocating for reducing barriers for women and underrepresented minorities.

Ruff was also named to CIO magazine’s most influential women in open source list. She is a regular at Open Source events where she talks about diversity and open source. I bump into her at every single open source event that I attend. The recent face to face meeting with her was just a week ago at the OpenStack Summit. This is what she tweeted after we bumped into each other:

nithya tweet Nithya Ruff/Swapnil Bhartiya

When I heard that Ruff was joining the LF board I asked her what would be her role on the board of directors at the Linux Foundation. She told CIO, “The foundation has become a well-respected organization for open source projects worldwide.  It has also taken on the role of enabling healthy and inclusive communities which is important for strong projects. My role as a Director-at-large will be to guide and support the foundation’s direction in creating a diverse and healthy community. I would like to bring my passion and knowledge of diversity best practices to strengthen the foundations already strong efforts today.”

Ruff is joining the the LF board as director at large; now that’s an interesting term. I wondered what director at large means? Ruff explained that the LF has a number of directors from member companies and it also sets aside some seats for appointments of directors from the community. A director at large is a community position not associated with any company and brings community relations and voice to the board.

One of the core focus areas for Ruff is diversity and the LF has also increased its efforts to encourage diversity in open source. Ruff said the LF does many things right in diversity and will continue to grow its role in this area. With the appointment of new board members, the LF board now has 4 women directors on its board, and 2 women on the technical board. “This demonstrates that the LF is serious about a diverse leadership team and its commitment to creating inclusion.  I am honored to join this board,” said Ruff.

Ruff highlighted some other core areas where the LF does things right when it comes to diversity:

  • Scholarships to attend conferences for women and underrepresented groups. This is often an entry point for people to begin in open source.
  • Support for Outreachy and other mentorship programs for new entrants into open source.
  • A code of conduct and well run conferences which include child care, women in open source lunches and community talks.
  • Partnership with a number of organizations that focus on different areas of diversity such as economic, gender, sexual orientation and underrepresented minorities.

Commenting on the appointment of the new board members,  Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation said, “They will help guide the strategy of The Linux Foundation, the home to some of the most successful open source projects and largest shared technology investment in history.”