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Open Source Influencer Nithya Ruff Joins CROSS Advisory Committee

Nithya Ruff headshot
Nithya Ruff headshot
Wednesday, May 5, 2021
Stephanie Lieggi

The Center for Research in Open Source Software (CROSS) has welcomed Nithya Ruff as the newest member of the CROSS Advisory Committee, with her recent appointment as a Visiting Scholar at UC Santa Cruz’s Baskin School of Engineering. Ms. Ruff is currently the Executive Director of the Open Source Program Office at Comcast as well as Chair of the Linux Foundation Board. Ms. Ruff has extensive experience leveraging technology and innovation to scale for growth in a wide range of enterprises, from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. Her expertise includes delivering open source solutions across telecommunications, media and entertainment, digital storage, semiconductor, and electronic design automation. 

Ms Ruff joins current Advisory Committee members: Doug Cutting (Founder of the Apache Lucene, Nutch, Hadoop and Avro projects), Nithya Ruff (Comcast), Karen Sandler (Software Freedom Conservancy), Nissa Strottman (Visa), Sage Weil (founder and chief architect of Ceph), and James Davis (UCSC).    

Ms. Ruff is a respected leader and influencer in the open source community and has experience building and leading impactful open source programs. In her current position at Comcast, Ms. Ruff sets strategy to open source industry, advising and supporting thousands of developers across 200+ projects. She also is a mentor to start-ups in the Comcast Lift Labs incubation program on software development and open source technology strategy. 

Ms Ruff has experience advising open source efforts in academia, foundations, and industry. She is an advisor to the Rochester Institute of Technology Open Source Program Office, as well as a board member for OpenChain and the board director of CodeChix. Ms Ruff is frequently invited to speak at influential conferences and workshops, including the Linux Foundation Open Source Summit, the Grace Hopper Conference, the GitHub Universe, the IEEE Symposium, and VMware’s VMworld DevOps Enterprise Summit. Ms. Ruff holds an MBA from the University of Rochester, a MS in Computer Science from North Dakota State University, and a BA in Business Administration from Bangalore University.

Ms Ruff is highly committed to increasing diversity in open source communities. In an interview on the Linux Foundation website, she notes that “one of the big lenses that I like to bring to the [Linux Board] is diversity and inclusion,” noting further that the “whole world is getting digitized. As we are recreating this world, we need to create it with people of all types. Otherwise, we will have a very monotonous world. We will have a black-and-white world created by a few people with their biases that are embedded in that world. And we cannot afford to do that.”

Asked about her new role at CROSS, Ms Ruff noted: “I have seen CROSS grow from strength to strength since they began six years ago.  I am excited to join the CROSS advisory committee at UCSC and help grow open source education, research and collaboration across the university and industry. " 

Professor Carlos Maltzahn, founder and director of CROSS noted: “I’m very pleased that Nithya agreed to serve on the CROSS Advisory Committee. CROSS and UC Santa Cruz will greatly benefit from Nithya’s strong advocacy of diversity and inclusion in technology and her impressive leadership in establishing centers of excellence for innovative open source strategies and technologies in industries and foundations.” 

About CROSS:

CROSS was initially established in 2015 with a $2.5 million gift from UCSC alumnus Sage Weil. The Center has been sustained from the beginning by industry members, including Kioxia (formerly Toshiba America Electronic Components, SK Hynix Memory Solutions, Micron Technology, Seagate Technology, Western Digital, Samsung, Huawei, and Fujitstu. The purpose of CROSS is to help students and recent graduates follow the model set by Weil, who developed his computer science PhD thesis into the highly successful open-source software project Ceph. CROSS funding allows students with the most promising research prototypes to incubate them into successful open source projects.