Who We Are

Maya L. Harris

Maya L. Harris Visiting Scholar, Harvard Law School

An accomplished attorney, public policy advocate, and philanthropic leader, Maya Harris is an innovative voice in global efforts to expand equal opportunity, strengthen democracy and protect civil and human rights.  Currently appointed as a Visiting Scholar at Harvard Law School and a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, Ms. Harris focuses on promoting policies that strengthen the U.S. economy and democracy through greater inclusion of women and people of color. 

Prior to her recent appointments, Ms. Harris served five years as the Vice President of Democracy, Rights and Justice and an Officer of the Board of Trustees at the Ford Foundation, the second largest philanthropy in the United States and one of the largest in the world.  At Ford, she led a global team in investing over $150 million annually in grants to promote effective governance, increase democratic participation, and protect human rights in the U.S. and 10 countries around the world.

Ms. Harris received her bachelor's degree from the University of California at Berkeley and graduated with Distinction from Stanford Law School.  After practicing law as a civil litigator at Jackson Tufts Cole and Black, LLP, and teaching law as an adjunct professor, Ms. Harris was recruited to serve as Dean and Chief Executive Officer of Lincoln Law School of San Jose—at age 29, she was reportedly one of the country’s youngest law school deans.  Ms. Harris subsequently joined PolicyLink, a national research and action institute, and later served as Executive Director of the ACLU of Northern California, where she led the litigation, public education, advocacy and organizing efforts of the nation's largest ACLU affiliate. 

Ms. Harris has published commentary in numerous media outlets.  She is a contributing author to "The Covenant with Black America," a collection of essays by African Americans which climbed to No. 1 on The New York Times best-seller list, and to “The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink,” a groundbreaking report that promotes modern solutions to help strengthen women’s economic security and the American economy.

Ms. Harris is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and serves on the boards of the Apollo Theater Foundation, Women’s Media Center, and the Latino Victory Project.

Ms. Harris is married to Tony West, the Associate Attorney General of the United States.  They have one daughter, Meena.