Maya Harris, a former senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, is one of three senior policy advisors named by Hillary Clinton to lead the development of an agenda for her presidential campaign, setting the stage for a series of policy rollouts that campaign officials hope to begin next month after her early phase of road trips to meet voters.
According to a report in Politico, Harris, an Indian American, will head the team that includes Ann O’Leary, a former legislative director to Clinton when she was in the Senate; and Jake Sullivan, a top aide to Clinton while she was secretary of state and a former national security adviser to Vice President Joe Biden.
Harris’ older sister is Kamala Harris, the Attorney General of California.
The Politico report said that the April 14 announcement of a policy team heavy on expertise in foreign policy, children and families, and global human rights is an early indication of the kinds of policy themes she could emphasize as she launches her campaign. All are issues Clinton has promoted in her recent speeches and in her book, “Hard Choices.”
According to the report, Harris has a background in human rights, having served as vice president of Democracy, Rights and Justice at the Ford Foundation, where she led a team that promoted effective governance, democracy and human rights around the world.
Clinton is also likely to get informal advice from another Indian American, Neera Tanden, the current president of CAP and a longtime adviser.
According to Wikipedia, prior to joining the Ford Foundation, Harris served as the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California. Before joining the ACLU, the former law school dean (Lincoln Law School of San Jose) was a senior associate at PolicyLink. She has authored two publications which include a report highlighting community-centered policing practices nationwide and an advocacy manual for police reform.
Hillary Clinton began sketching out a progressive policy agenda and promised fresh thinking on a range of economic and other issues April 14, as she began her second run for the White House in the coffee shops and classrooms of Iowa small towns.
Returning to the state that threw her last effort forever off course, Clinton was met by curious voters and a media frenzy, with journalists chasing after her luxury armored van. There were no big speeches or rallies, and local organizers were told to keep throngs of supporters away.
Instead, Clinton made a point of sitting down with small groups of people — three in a coffee shop, seven in a community college vocational classroom, a handful more at a second coffee shop.
She gave a broad rationale for running for what would be a third Democratic administration in a row. And she sprinkled in a few new policy positions, including a call for changes to campaign finance laws — even raising the prospect of a constitutional amendment to clean up money in politics.
"I just felt like I couldn't walk away from what I see as the challenges we face," she said of her second try for the White House.
"I will be rolling out very specific policies over the weeks and months ahead that I think are going to be at the core of not only a successful campaign, but much more importantly, getting our country to work again," Clinton told reporters.
She is expected to roll out her full policy platform in May or June, after a series of meetings like those of April 14 that will be held in early primary states.
Among the details of her emerging platform, Clinton said she wants to fix the country's "dysfunctional" campaign finance system. Later, in a brief interview with The Washington Post, Clinton said she has developed a plan to overhaul the way money is spent in political campaigns.
Asked about her campaign finance agenda, she said, "We do have a plan. We have a plan for my plan."
When The Post asked about the role of Priorities USA Action, a pro-Clinton super PAC trying to raise hundreds of millions of dollars to help her campaign, Clinton shrugged her shoulders and said, "I don't know."