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. She is an MSNBC Contributor and, most recently, Harris served as a Senior Policy Advisor to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, where she played a leading role in shaping Clinton’s domestic policy agenda.
Before joining the Clinton campaign, Harris was a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, focused on promoting policies that strengthen the U.S. economy and democracy through greater inclusion of women and people of color. While there, she authored “Women of Color: A Growing Force in the American Electorate,” documenting the current and increasingly future prominence of women of color in influencing political outcomes.
Prior to her appointment at the Center for American Progress, Harris served as the Vice President of Democracy, Rights and Justice at the Ford Foundation, one of the largest philanthropies in the world. At Ford, she led a global team in investing over $750 million to promote effective governance, increase democratic participation, and protect human rights. These investments included launching the Foundation’s first LGBT rights initiative, funding nationwide efforts to protect voting rights, supporting organizations in the Global South that are reshaping the global human rights agenda, and working to expand economic and political opportunities for women around the world.
Harris previously served as the Executive Director of the ACLU of Northern California, where she led the litigation, public education, advocacy and grassroots organizing efforts of the nation's largest ACLU affiliate. During her tenure, she also helped lead five California statewide ballot initiative campaigns on issues ranging from racial and criminal justice to LGBT and reproductive rights. Prior to the ACLU, Harris conducted research and policy advocacy on community policing issues at PolicyLink, where she authored the publications Community-Centered Policing: A Force for Change and Organized for Change: The Activist’s Guide to Police Reform.
Harris has published commentary in numerous media outlets. She is also 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 promoting modern solutions to help strengthen women’s economic security and the American economy.
After graduating from the University of California at Berkeley and receiving her law degree with honors from Stanford Law School, Harris practiced law as a civil litigator. While in private practice, she also taught law school as an adjunct professor at U.C. Hastings College of the Law and Lincoln Law School of San Jose. When faced with an academic crisis, Lincoln’s Board of Trustees recruited Harris to serve as Dean and Chief Executive Officer, making her one of the nation’s youngest law school deans at age 29. As Dean, Harris recruited new faculty, revamped the core curriculum, renewed the school's state bar accreditation, and moved and upgraded the law school campus.
Harris is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and serves on the board of the Apollo Theater Foundation. She is co-chair of the Women's Media Center.
Follow Harris on twitter @MayaHarris_.