Washington, D.C. – Today, the Center for American Progress announced that Maya Harris will join the organization as a Senior Fellow. Harris will work with CAP’s economic policy team, Progress 2050, and the Center’s new women’s initiative—the Fair Shot campaign—to develop new ideas to harness the economic power of women and people of color and to lift these communities to the center of our policy debates in Washington and around the country.
“Maya has worked tirelessly in many different arenas to ensure that the United States is a more inclusive country and that all Americans can live up to their potential,” said Neera Tanden, President of the Center for American Progress. “We are thrilled to have her join CAP’s team and look forward to working with her to ensure that women and communities of color are not just to getting by, but getting ahead.
Harris comes to CAP after serving as one of three program vice presidents 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 the Ford Foundation, Harris led the Democracy, Rights and Justice program, a global effort that invests over $150 million annually in grants to promote effective governance, increase democratic participation, and protect and advance human rights worldwide.
At Ford, Harris focused on strengthening civil and human rights movements to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Under her leadership, the Foundation launched its first lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, rights initiative, funded nationwide efforts to protect voting rights, supported emerging organizations in the Global South that are reshaping the global human rights agenda, and worked to expand economic and political opportunities for women around the world.
Over the past two decades, Harris built a career as a public policy advocate, legal educator, attorney, and published commentator. Before joining the Ford Foundation in 2008, Maya was executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU, of Northern California, the largest ACLU affiliate in the United States. She oversaw the affiliate’s litigation, public education, lobbying, and grassroots organization work on issues ranging from racial and criminal justice to reproductive, immigrant, and LGBT rights. In 2006, she served as lead counsel for the ACLU-NC in League of Women Voters v. McPherson, which restored the voting rights of more than 100,000 Californians who were wrongfully disenfranchised.
Prior to the ACLU, Maya conducted research and policy advocacy on policing issues at PolicyLink and worked in civil litigation at the law firm of Jackson Tufts Cole and Black, LLP. She was dean of Lincoln Law School of San Jose and has also served as an adjunct law professor teaching gender discrimination and contracts courses.
Maya has written policy reports and published commentary on civil rights issues in numerous media outlets. She is also a contributing author to The Covenant with Black America published in 2006, a collection of essays by African Americans, which climbed to No. 1 on The New York Times best-seller list.