Maya Harris is Kamala Harris’ sister. She has served a number of roles over the course of her career, including her position as a senior advisor on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
Harris is married to attorney Tony West, who served in the Department of Justice during the Obama administration and now works as general counsel for PepsiCo. Harris also has a daughter, whom she gave birth to at 17 years old; Meena Harris also attended law school and now works at Slack, per The New Yorker. Harris was the campaign chair when her sister ran for president in 2020.
Here’s what you need to know about Maya Harris, Kamala Harris’ sister:
1. Maya Harris Attended UC Berkeley as an Undergraduate, Followed by Stanford Law School
Like her sister Kamala, Harris has a significant academic pedigree, having attended several of the finest universities in the country.
Via a profile of Harris and her husband by Stanford Law School, Harris followed the footsteps of her parents by attending UC Berkeley as an undergraduate, switching from a scientific focus to a legal one during her time as a student. She said of her switch in studies, “At some point it became clear to me that the law is such an awesome tool and influence in shaping the social playing field.”
In an interview with Stanford Law School, Harris cited her mother as a key point of influence on her. She said, “My mom was an extraordinary force of nature. She was accomplished in her field, yet always the activist helping others, whether women who were disproportionately impacted by breast cancer or students trying to get financial aid. Her example and her core values made a very deep impression on me, and my sister.”
2. Maya Harris Was a Senior Policy Advisor for Hillary Clinton’s Presidential Campaign
— Doug Emhoff (@DouglasEmhoff) January 21, 2019
During Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, Harris served as a senior policy advisor, described by The New Yorker as the “progressive” link for the Clinton campaign.
The New Yorker reported that Harris only met Clinton a few weeks before she launched her campaign, but that she soon became a top advisor for the presidential hopeful, advising her on matters of race, gender, economic empowerment, policing, immigration, and more.
Emily Greenhouse of The New Yorker wrote of Harris:
“To speak with those who have worked with Harris is to be bulldozed with superlatives. Mary Kay Henry, the president of the Service Employees International Union, who worked with Harris recently on the Democratic Party platform, told me that “she lives her life on a moral crusade on all of those justice issues. . . . She carries her peeps, our peeps, with her in everything she does.”
3. Harris Is Married to Fellow Stanford Law Graduate, Tony West; Their Daughter, Meena, Also Went to Law School
Harris met her future husband, attorney Tony West, at Stanford Law School. Now, West is the executive vice president of government affairs, general counsel and corporate secretary at PepsiCo Inc.
Prior to his work at PepsiCo, West was involved in the political universe as well, during his time serving the Obama administration in the Department of Justice, first as assistant attorney general in charge of the civil division, and then as associate attorney general. Per his bio, West attended a Jesuit high school that prioritized community service, which is where he first began to understand how important it was to give back.
Via his bio, he says, “That idea was really ingrained in all of us — this idea that you should be of value during your time on this earth in ways that exceed your own parochial interests or concerns,” he said. “This really helped my own world view as I began to form it — as you really do — in these formative years in high school.”
As for his work at Harvard as an undergrad, he said of the experience, “It deepened my political sensibilities. It was my opportunity to begin to try to work with people who had different political points of view and to build a consensus.”
4. Harris Was Hired as a Political Analyst for MSNBC in 2017
Sen. Kamala Harris' sister hired as a political analyst by MSNBC. Maya Harris advised the Clinton campaign & headed ACLU in Northern CA. https://t.co/Oq1Xn2SZtq
— Phil Willon (@philwillon) June 20, 2017
Harris was hired as a political analyst by MSNBC in June 2017. She left that job when she began working for her sister’s presidential campaign. She has been praised for her political savvy and knowledge.
“Everyone is used to relatives that are doofuses,” Center for American Progress President Neera Tanden and Biden’s pick to head the White House Office of Policy and Management, told Politico in 2019. “When you have a relative that is competent and capable, what does that mean?”
Having a sister who is a competent political ally is something Kamala Harris shares with Biden. His sister, Valerie Biden Owens, managed several of his political campaigns and was an informal adviser during his successful presidential bid.
5. Harris Has Authored Two Publications, One of Which Is an Advocacy Manual for Police Reform
Harris has authored multiple publications, one of which is titled Organized for Change: The Activist’s Guide to Police Reform. She authored this manual during her time working as a Senior Associate at PolicyLink. The overview of the manual on the PolicyLink website reads, “Contains strategies to help advocates move their police departments closer to a vision of community-centered policing.”
Another publication authored by Harris is an essay that was published in the 2006 book, The Covenant With Black America. The essay is titled Fostering Accountable Community-Centered Policing.