Maya Harris is a Senior Fellow at American Progress and a visiting scholar at Harvard Law School, with a focus on promoting policies that strengthen the U.S. economy and democracy through greater inclusion of women and people of color.
An accomplished attorney, public policy advocate, and philanthropic leader, Harris is an innovative voice in global efforts to expand equal opportunity, strengthen democracy, and protect civil and human rights. She comes to American Progress after serving five years as the vice president of Democracy, Rights and Justice and an officer of the Board of Trustees at the Ford Foundation, where she led a global team in investing more than $150 million annually in grants to promote effective governance, increase democratic participation, and protect human rights in the United States and in 10 countries around the world.
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, 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. Harris subsequently joined PolicyLink, a national research and action institute, and later served as executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU, of Northern California, where she led the litigation, public education, advocacy, and organizing efforts of the nation’s largest ACLU affiliate.
Harris has published commentary in numerous media outlets. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and serves on the Board of Directors of the Apollo Theater Foundation.
Harris is married to Tony West, the associate attorney general of the United States. They have one daughter, Meena.