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Who Is Kamala Harris' Sister, Maya Harris?

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Who Is Kamala Harris' Sister, Maya Harris?

Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee for president, has announced his pick for his Vice President to be Senator Kamala Harris. The California Senator is popular and accomplished and she is a good complement to Biden as he attempts to defeat Donald Trump in November.

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Perhaps no one knows Senator Harris better than her sister Maya. The sisters are only three years apart in age and have been very close since they were little girls. They both became lawyers and have focused on changing systems to make them more equitable. While Maya Harris has worked in private practice and in advocacy organizations, her sister went the route of elected office. Maya Harris has assisted with each of her big sister's campaigns. Together they have become known as a force in democratic politics.

Who is Kamala Harris' sister, Maya Harris?

Who is Maya Harris? She's best known for helping Kamala get elected.

The Harris sisters are very close and Maya Harris has taken leading roles in every one of her sister's campaigns, something that has brought her real recognition in political circles. With Maya's guidance, Kamala Harris was elected District Attorney of San Francisco in 2004, followed by winning the race to the Attorney General of California in 2011. Maya Harris worked on her Senate campaign as well, a race she won in 2016. It came as little surprise that the Senator asked her sister to work on her bid for the presidency as well. She is a policy expert, as well as being savvy in campaign strategy and both skills may come in handy on the campaign trail.

Unfortunately, despite all her skills, chairing a presidential campaign was more than the younger Harris could effectively manage. The Harris campaign, while promising at its outset, was plagued by bad decisions on which primary states to focus on, weak fundraising, and a lack of consistent messaging. Staff who might have known better were reluctant to challenge choices made by Maya Harris at least partly because she was the sister to the candidate. Ultimately, Harris stepped out of the fray and endorsed Joe Biden. She is now seen as a leading contender for the Vice President slot on his campaign. 

Who are Maya Harris's kids? She is a mother and grandmother. 

Though she is only 53 years old, Harris has a 35-year-old daughter and two young grandchildren. She was a teen mom who had her daughter Meena when she was a senior in high school. She was able to continue her education and lived at home to care for her baby while also getting her degree from Berkeley and then going to Stanford for law school. She raised her as a single parent until she married in 1998 when Meena was 14. Meena Harris is now a lawyer herself, has written children's books, and has two children.


A post shared by Maya Harris (@mayaharris_) on Sep 15, 2019 at 9:40am PDT

Meena, Kamala, and Maya Harris in 2020. 

Civil rights was an early passion for Maya Harris.

From the time Harris was very young, their parents had shown her what commitment to civil rights and justice looked like. Her parents were professors at Berkeley and activists on civil rights issues. Maya Harris planned from early in her life to follow in their footsteps. "Their activism and what they were striving to achieve was what we talked about at the dinner table,” says Harris. “I knew at a very early age that I was going to one day have a career that would allow me to work for social justice and focus on improving the quality of people’s lives.”

She studied law at Stanford and went into private law practice after that, but she was involved in social justice work from the time she graduated.

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What is Maya Harris' job? She managed the largest chapter of the ACLU.

In 2006, Harris was appointed the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California. While she was there, she managed the successful campaign to defeat Proposition 54, a ballot initiative that would have prevented LGBTQ+ people from legally marrying in the state. After her tenure there, she went to the Ford Foundation where she served as Vice President for Democracy, Rights, and Justice where, among other things, she worked on ending the practice of adult men taking child brides. 

Who is Maya Harri's husband? Her daughter introduced her to her spouse, Tony West.

Harris's daughter Meena was already four years old when her mom started law school at Stanford. One day, the little girl started a game of hide and seek on the lawn of the school with another law student. His name was Tony West and he and Harris became close friends while they were in law school together, though they didn't get romantic until well after their graduation in 1992. “We waited for the most inconvenient time to actually get together — he was in D.C. and I was in the Bay Area,” Harris recalls. “It’s a family joke that Meena knew we should be together long before we did.” The couple married in 1998. West went on to serve as a top Justice Department official under President Obama

Maya Harris advised Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign before her sister's. 

Harris was happy to go out on the campaign trail to stump for her sister but it wasn't the first time she had been on the inside of a presidential bid. In 2016, she was a top policy advisor for Hillary Clinton. She and the candidate were close during the process of building her policy plans for the hard-fought campaign, and fellow campaign staff said they would often be up late at night trading emails about the fine points of every position. It was widely expected that she would have been appointed to a White House position had the election turned out differently for the first female nominee for President

Will Maya Harris work in the White House if Kamala Harris ends up being the vice president?

While Maya Harris's experience and knowledge of civil rights and justice would be valuable commodities in a Biden-Harris administration, there are rules that prevent her from having an official job. Both Biden and Harris would probably also avoid the ethically-questionable practice of allowing family members to have unpaid roles such as what Donald Trump allows his daughter and son-in-law to do. It's more likely that Maya Harris would continue her work in the private sector and as a cable news contributor. 

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Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. She is the creator of the blog FeminXer and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally posted on August 11, 2020 and was updated with the latest information.