“It’s important to have people around who push us to do more than we believe we can,” says Comcast’s head of open source.

If you’ve been to an major open source conference in, say, the last five years you’ve either spotted Nithya Ruff’s warm smile in the hallway track or heard her speak.

Currently charged with founding and growing an open-source practice at Comcast, Ruff was also founding director of the open source strategy and engagement office for SanDisk and chaired the SanDisk Open Source Working Group. Her open-source credentials stretch back to 1998 while working at the venerable SGI and include projects like Tripwire, Wind River Linux, Yocto Project, Tizen Automotive, Ceph and OpenStack.

Few of us know how she got started, though. The super advocate shares her origin story in a recent interview for the documentary series “Chasing Grace.” The series was created to share the stories of women who faced adversity and became change agents in the tech workplace. Inspired by pioneering computer scientist Grace Hopper, early sponsors include the Linux Foundation and the Cloud Foundry Foundation.

Growing up in Bangalore, India her engineer father showed her a path by not only hiring women in technical positions but also by including her when colleagues visited their home. And while her mother advocated for an early arranged marriage, he nixed the idea in favor of his daughter making it on her own first.

Meet the Women of Chasing Grace: Nithya from Wicked Flicks Productions on Vimeo.

“He showed me that there were very strong careers that women could have in business,” she says. “He really involved me in those conversations, treated me as an equal.” He insisted that she finish her education before settling down and when one of his colleagues planted the idea of studying in the United States, choosing computer science seemed natural.

“It’s important to have people around who push us to do more than we believe we can,” she says. These days Ruff hopes to inspire the next generation as active participant in cross-community initiatives including the recent Diversity Empowerment Summit and the Women of OpenStack group.

Stay tuned for details on how to can catch “Chasing Grace” screenings at upcoming OpenStack Summits.

Superuser would love to hear how you got started in open source, drop us a line at editorATopenstack.org

H/T Shilla Saebi

Cover photo by: U.S. Army // CC BY