New Community Director, Rachel Reese

Rachel ReeseWith the acquisition of Xamarin by Microsoft and .NET Foundation Director Miguel de Icaza getting his blue badge, we wanted to make some changes to the .NET Foundation Board of Directors so that t
he entire board was not made up of Microsoft employees. Happily, Miguel has agreed to stay on the board as one of the two Microsoft representatives alongside Scott Hunter at Microsoft who now has responsibility for the ASP.NET team and the .NET compiler & framework teams. Joining the .NET Foundation Board of Directors is Rachel Reese. Rachel is a long-time member of the .NET community and a board member of the F# foundation where she has been driving a number of great community activities.

For this post, Martin Woodward interviewed Rachel and chatt ed about her experiences to date and what she hopes the .NET Foundation to do in the future.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. What's your background?

As soon as I learned to solve for x, I started to be interested in Math. I decided early on that I wanted to study Math at university. Once there, I started adding in Physics courses as well and, since I was studying at a research university, I began to intern on the Super Kamiokande project. For my first summer on the project, they handed me “A Book on C” and said that I wasn’t going to be useful to the project until I understood how to code. I took a couple programming classes while I was in school, and started playing around with web sites. Once I’d graduated, I was torn on continuing to grad school vs. working for a few years, and pursued both simultaneously. I found a job before I finished my applications, with a friend’s company who was using Classic ASP with VBScript… and the rest is history.

Is that when you first became interested in programming?

While I had used programming as a means to an end while in school, I think I first became really interested in programming when I discovered the community, which happened at two major points. First, a supervisor invited me to a user group meeting around the release of .NET 1.0. I became a regular there, and then discovered conferences, forums, several email lists, eventually twitter, hackspaces, co-working, and many other places and events where other devs hung out. It opened a whole new way to learn for me. There’s nothing more fun than watching someone demo something cool in which they wholeheartedly believe. Several years later, when I was looking to learn more about F#, I decided to start a functional user group in Vermont, and accidentally happened into an incredible group of very passionate and very diverse programmers. A similar thing happened: my worldview expanded five- or maybe ten-fold over those months, this time with knowledge of functional programming, rather than communities in general.

How do you see the F# Foundation and the .NET Foundation working together?

First, I think there needs to be a lot more communication between the two groups – I know that the F# community in general, and the F# Foundation, specifically, is an especially passionate one with lots of wonderful ideas and I’m looking forward to sharing those with a wider .NET community (and vice versa!). Once there’s an exchange of ideas, we can potentially start to implement joint programs and initiatives, and more. I’m sure there will be some pretty incredible things that happen soon! 

What initiatives are you working on (or passionate about) within the .NET Foundation?

Education, training, and ideally inspiring new devs! I feel like the .NET community overall has lost some of the momentum that it used to have when I first joined in the early 2000s. That momentum seems to have been coming back since the open sourcing of .NET and one of my main goals is to work with the community to drive that onwards. I know that the F# Foundation has been working on several initiatives that I’d love to try to expand and rework for a larger .NET crowd, and I think the release of .NET Core is the perfect time to inspire a new generation of .NET devs!

What does the future of .NET look like in your dreams?

Open-source, cross-platform, multi-paradigm, with a friendly, diverse, engaged, and passionate community. :D

Thanks Rachel – and welcome to the .NET Foundation!