Former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton has named Indian-American Maya Harris to head a team of senior policy advisers to put together her presidential campaign’s agenda.
Harris, 46, has a background in human rights, having served as vice-president of Democracy, Rights and Justice at the Ford Foundation. She is the younger sister of Kamala Harris, the California attorney general who is now running for senate. Their mother is of Indian descent and father is from Jamaica.
Harris went to Berkeley and then Stanford law school. She considers her mother Shyamala Gopalan Harris, a cancer researcher who came to the US from Chennai in 1960, as a major influence, and her elder sister.
Harris will work with 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.
Neera Tanden, who heads liberal-leaning think tank Centre for American Progress, is the other Indian American who is likely to be around Clinton as a trusted, long-time adviser.
Clinton, who announced her second run for the White House on Sunday, is still putting together her team, her strategy and her message.
Politico, the news publication that first reported Harris’s appointment, said the composition of her team was an early indicator of issues Clinton will press during the campaign.
Harris brings experience in pursuing human rights issues around the world, Sullivan will do the heavy-lifting on foreign policy and O’Leary on children and family.
Harris is married to Tony West, who left the Obama administration last September after five years as associate attorney general in the department of justice. West was an early supporter of Obama and landed a senior position in the administration upon his election. Harris is sure to land a senior position herself if Clinton wins.