Person

Maya Harris

Maya Harris and Kamala Harris at SF City Hall. (link) by Nick St. Charles is licensed CC BY 2.0 (link)
Nationality:

American

Occupation:

Lawyer

Political Analyst, MSNBC

Policy Adviser, Hillary Clinton for President (2016)

Political Party:

Democratic Party

Notable Relatives:

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA)

Maya Harris is a professional left-of-center policy advocate and advisor. She has served in a leadership role for numerous left-wing organizations. Among those organizations are the Ford Foundation, Center for American Progress, and the ACLU of Northern California. She also sits on the advisory board of Democracy Forward and the Democracy Forward Foundation, advocacy and litigation organizations created by former Obama administration officials.

She is the sister of U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) and served as an advisor to her 2020 presidential campaign. She also served as an advisor to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s unsuccessful presidential campaign in 2016.

Early Life and Career

Maya Harris was born on January 30, 1967. When she was around three, her mother and father split up. Maya and her older sister Kamala were raised by their mom. As the sisters were growing up, their mother took them to civil rights demonstrations in Berkeley. At 17, Maya had her first child. [1]

In 1992, Harris graduated from Stanford Law School. She practiced corporate law and taught law school classes on the side. In 1996, she became the head of the Lincoln Law School which made her one of the youngest law school deans in American history. [2]

After her time teaching law school, Harris entered the civil rights and left-wing advocacy arena. She became a senior associate at the advocacy group PolicyLink and later was appointed executive director at the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California. She would then become vice president for rights, democracy, and justice at the Ford Foundation. She was also a contributor for several books on liberal criminal justice policies. Maya would also work as a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. [3]

Clinton 2016 Campaign

In 2015, Maya Harris was hired as a senior policy advisor to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. She was a surprise hire because she was not a part of the “Clinton machine” and in fact her first professional meeting was just a few weeks before Clinton’s Presidential announcement. [4]

While working on the campaign, she focused on issues such as immigration, incarceration, the opioid epidemic, urban investment, and abortion rights. Before joining the Clinton campaign, she worked on liberal political and advocacy campaigns in San Francisco. [5]

Maya became as Hillary Clinton’s link to the progressive movement. Reportedly due to Maya’s work, the first major speech Hillary Clinton gave as a presidential candidate was a call for criminal justice reform. [6]

After Clinton’s defeat in 2016, Maya became a paid contributor and pundit for MSNBC. [7]

Kamala Harris Campaign

In 2019, Maya Harris’s sister, U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA), announced her bid for President; Maya was appointed the campaign chairwoman. Maya would sometimes attend Harris fundraisers instead of her sister. [8]

Maya Harris was reportedly involved in every aspect of her sister’s campaign. She helped raise money, hire campaign staff, draft policies, and helped talk up the campaign to Democratic officeholders and activists in early primary states. Harris’s work helped the campaign secure some early endorsements, but it was not enough to prevent Kamala from dropping out of the race before the first ballot was cast. [9]

References

  1. Goldberg, Melissa. 2019. “7 Things To Know About Senator Kamala Harris’ Sister, Maya Harris”. Oprah Magazine. https://www.oprahmag.com/entertainment/a28532185/kamala-harris-sister-maya-harris/. ^
  2. Goldberg, Melissa. 2019. “7 Things To Know About Senator Kamala Harris’ Sister, Maya Harris”. Oprah Magazine. https://www.oprahmag.com/entertainment/a28532185/kamala-harris-sister-maya-harris/. ^
  3. Goldberg, Melissa. 2019. “7 Things To Know About Senator Kamala Harris’ Sister, Maya Harris”. Oprah Magazine. https://www.oprahmag.com/entertainment/a28532185/kamala-harris-sister-maya-harris/. ^
  4. Greenhouse, Emily. 2016. “Meet Maya Harris, Hillary Clinton’s Progressive Link”. New Yorker. https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/meet-maya-harris-hillary-clintons-progressive-link/amp. ^
  5. Greenhouse, Emily. 2016. “Meet Maya Harris, Hillary Clinton’s Progressive Link”. New Yorker. https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/meet-maya-harris-hillary-clintons-progressive-link/amp. ^
  6. Greenhouse, Emily. 2016. “Meet Maya Harris, Hillary Clinton’S Progressive Link”. New Yorker. https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/meet-maya-harris-hillary-clintons-progressive-link/amp. ^
  7. CADELAGO, CHRISTOPHER. 2019. “‘Everyone Is Used To Relatives That Are Doofuses’: Kamala’s Sister Breaks Tradition”. Politico. https://www.politico.com/amp/story/2019/06/07/kamala-harris-maya-1356591. ^
  8. CADELAGO, CHRISTOPHER. 2019. “‘Everyone Is Used To Relatives That Are Doofuses’: Kamala’s Sister Breaks Tradition”. Politico. https://www.politico.com/amp/story/2019/06/07/kamala-harris-maya-1356591. ^
  9. CADELAGO, CHRISTOPHER. 2019. “‘Everyone Is Used To Relatives That Are Doofuses’: Kamala’s Sister Breaks Tradition”. Politico. https://www.politico.com/amp/story/2019/06/07/kamala-harris-maya-1356591. ^

Connected Organizations

  1. ACLU of Northern California (Non-profit)
    Former Executive Director
  2. Center for American Progress (CAP) (Non-profit)
    Former Senior Fellow
  3. Democracy Alliance Conferences (Other Group)
    Participant, Spring 2015
  4. Democracy Forward (DF) (Non-profit)
    Board Member
  5. Democracy Forward Foundation (DFF) (Non-profit)
    Board Member
  6. Ford Foundation (Non-profit)
    Former Vice President for Democracy, Rights and Justice
  7. PolicyLink (Non-profit)
    Former Senior Associate
  See an error? Let us know!