Equal Rights Advocates Honors Social Justice Leader Maya Harris
“Maya’s life has been dedicated to ensuring that everyone has a fair chance to succeed,” said Executive Director Noreen Farrell. “As a law school dean and non-profit leader, outspoken advocate, and philanthropic visionary, she has been a voice that women and people of color can count on in California, nationally, and around the world.”
Equal Rights Advocates, based in San Francisco, is a national legal services organization that expands and protects the rights of women and girls. The award will be presented to Harris at ERA’s 40th anniversary luncheon on June 17 in San Francisco. (For more information about ERA or the luncheon, visit equalrights.org/luncheon.)
Harris is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and a visiting scholar at Harvard Law School. Her most recent work includes contributions to the Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink, a study of the profound change in the makeup and reality of American families.
Prior to joining American Progress, Maya served as Vice-President of Democracy, Rights and Justice at the Ford Foundation. She oversaw a portfolio of over $150 million in grants to protect human rights in the United States and globally, including projects aimed at expanding voter participation and protecting the rights of women. Under her leadership, the Foundation also launched its first LGBT rights initiative.
Earlier in her career, Maya was reported to be one of the youngest law school deans in the country, when San Jose-area Lincoln Law School appointed her to the post at the age of 29. She also served as the Executive Director of ACLU-Northern California. In 2006, she served as lead counsel for the ACLU-Northern California in League of Women Voters v. McPherson, which restored the voting rights of more than 100,000 Californians.
In an interview with Stanford Lawyer magazine, Maya said she knew “at a very early age” that her career would be one focused on improving the quality of people’s lives.