Born In: Oakland, California, United States
Meena Harris, best known as the founder of the Phenomenal Woman Action Campaign, is also a noted lawyer, activist, best-selling children’s book author and producer. Born to a single mother, she spent her childhood surrounded by three strong and brilliant women; her mother Maya Harris, a senior policy advisor for Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign, her grandmother, a noted biomedical scientist and Kamala Harris, currently the US Vice President. From them, she imbibed a fighting spirit and also a will to try and make a difference. Eventually, she earned her degree in jurisprudence from Harvard Law School and embarked on her career. However, she soon gave that up to form ‘Phenomenal’ with the intention of raising money and spreading awareness about problems faced by women. Starting with Black women employees, she soon spread her work to include other groups that have been historically ignored, eventually creating a space for all of them.
Also Known As: Meenakshi Ashley Harris
Spouse/Ex-: Nikolas Ajagu
mother: Maya Harris
children: Leela, Nikolas Ajagu
Born Country: United States
U.S. State: California
education: Harvard University, Stanford University
Meena Harris was born on October 20, 1984, in Oakland, a large and important city, located in the US state of California. Her mother, Maya Lakshmi Harris, is an award-winning lawyer, public policy advocate and writer. Nothing is known about her biological father.
Since Meena was conceived when her mother was still in her high school, her biological father played no role in her upbringing. She found a father-figure only after her mother married Derek Anthony aka Tony West in 1998.
After her birth, her mother went back to school, eventually earning her degree from the Stanford University. During this period, Meena was chiefly raised by her maternal grandmother, Shyamala Gopalan and her maternal aunt, Kamala Harris.
Growing up among three strong and extraordinary women, Meena learned some vital lessons. While her grandmother taught her “to always try and make a difference—always, big or small—in everything“, she learned from her mother the value of hard work and from her aunt the impact of public service.
Later she said, “For as long as I can remember, I’ve considered myself to be two things: an optimist and a problem-solver“. Indeed, watching her single mother going to law school, through her first law firm job and her aunt tackling various tricky situations made her believe she too can do them.
As she grew up, she followed her mother to Bishop O'Dowd High School, graduating from there in 2002. Thereafter, she joined Stanford University, from where she earned her bachelor’s degree in 2006. Three years later, she entered Harvard Law School, earning her degree in jurisprudence from there in 2012.
In 2006, soon after graduating from Stanford University, Meena Harris began her career with Facebook, serving as the Community Operations Manager in Palo Alto, California. Eventually in 2009, she left her job to join Harvard Law School.
After spending all her life on the West coast, she found the east little different, having an intellectual rigor and intensity, which was new to her. Soon, she began to love being surrounded by interesting people with diverse backgrounds and extraordinary mind, committed to ideals of justice.
In 2012, on graduating from HLS, she moved to Washington DC, where she began working as the Judicial Law Clerk at the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, serving in this capacity for one year. Then in 2013, she joined Covington & Burling LLP as Attorney, Data Privacy & Cybersecurity.
She remained with Covington & Burling, a multinational law firm, headquartered in Washington DC, for three years, eventually leaving the organization in 2016 to join Slack Technologies LLC. Working from the company’s headquarters in San Francisco, she served as the Senior Policy Manager for its messaging program Slack for one year.
In 2015, Kamala Harris announced her candidacy for the Senate seat and with that Meena Harris entered into the political arena. During the campaign, which saw her aunt being elected to the Senate, she served as a senior advisor on policy and communications.
In 2016-2017, she served as a commissioner on the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women. It made her realize the condition of women, especially black women workers; in different sectors and that they are paid far less than the white men.
A problem-solver by nature, Meena Harris gave up her job at Slack in 2017 to establish her own company, a fashion house called Phenomenal, naming it after Maya Angelou’s poem, Phenomenal Woman. Her intention was to raise money for women’s cause and to spread awareness.
Shortly she branched out to form Phenomenal Woman Action Campaign, whose first task was to sell Maya Angelou-inspired Phenomenal Woman T-shirts. She had hoped to sell a few hundred pieces in one month and then diverge into other campaign. But to her surprise 2500 shirts were sold in one single day.
Buoyed by the success, she continued to launch more T-shirts, proceeds from which would eventually go to various non-profit organizations like the Dr. Maya Angelou Foundation, Essie Justice Group, Girls Who Code etc. But very soon, she realized that it was not enough and that she needed to do more.
Working with women, she found that they were ”looking to come together in a positive, empowering environment” and realized that she must ”create those spaces for them.”. Soon they began a tech tour, visiting major companies like Airbnb, Google, Salesforce, Twitter, Uber, chatting with women, highlighting black women in leadership.
Soon they joined the Black Women’s Equal Pay campaign, representing company wide recognition of Black Women’s Equal Pay Day. Later it expanded to include the Black Women’s Power Lunch, where Black women employees at Uber could freely talk to women leaders in business.
Her activities were quickly noticed by Uber, who asked her to help them in setting up several similar events in Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York, and Washington, DC. It led to her joining Uber Technologies, Inc, at San Francisco Bay Area, as its Head of Strategy and Leadership in 2017.
Apart from Phenomenal, she soon started launching numerous other campaigns and products, including Phenomenal Voter, Phenomenally Black, Phenomenally Asian, and Phenomenally Latina. In September, 2018 she coordinated with Alicia Garza to create a full-page ad in the New York Times, demonstrating national support for Christine Blasey Ford and survivors of sexual assault.
Soon her activism began to garner support from number of celebrities, athletes, and thought-leaders. They included Serena Williams, Jessica Alba, Dwyane Wade, Issa Rae, Eva Longoria, Dove Cameron, Mindy Kaling, and Samuel L. Jackson etc.
In 2020, she left Uber to concentrate on her activism, launching Phenomenal Media to create awareness about issues relating to underrepresented communities. Meant for written content, the platform kicked off with essays from Tamika Palmer, Nneka Ogwumike and Sue Bird.
In December 2020, she announced the launch of Phenomenal Production, a full-service creative production house that produces videos, social content, and creative products for nonprofits, foundations, causes, and companies. In 2022, she co-produced with others A strange Loop, which won Tony Award
Also a children’s author, she released her first book, Kamala and Maya's Big Idea, in 2020. Based on the life of her mother and her aunt, it was followed in 2021 by her second book, Ambitious Girl.
In 2007, Meena Harris met her partner Nikolas Ajagu while working for Facebook. At that time the Campaign Manger Monetization, he is currently serving as the Global Head of Partnership, Facebook Advertizing Technology.
The couple announced their engagement in September 2016; but it is not known if they have actually tied the knot. They have two daughters: Amara, born in June 2016 and Leela, born in February 2018.
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