Everything You Need to Know About Kamala Harris' Family
The Democratic candidate for vice president is a proud wife, sister, and "Momala." Here are all the details on Kamala Harris' husband Doug Emhoff and her family.
This election season, Americans will have the chance to vote for the first Black and South Asian woman nominated to a major party's presidential ticket: Kamala Harris. In addition to being the Democratic nominee for vice president, Harris served as the junior U.S. senator from California since 2017, the attorney general of California, and district attorney of San Francisco. But voters are also learning about other titles close to her heart—wife, sister, auntie, and "Momala."
Here's the scoop on Kamala Harris' husband Doug Emhoff, as well as their children Cole and Ella, sister Maya, and niece Meena.
Kamala Harris' Husband Doug Emhoff
Kamala's husband Doug Emhoff, 55, was born in Brooklyn, New York and graduated from University of Southern California's law school. He spent his childhood in New Jersey, then Los Angeles. The entertainment and intellectual property lawyer met the VP candidate in 2013 on a blind date—just like Joe and Jill Biden. They were set up by one of Kamala's close friends, PR consultant Chrisette Hudlin, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
In her memoir, The Truths We Hold, Kamala described what followed their first meeting: "The morning after our first date, Doug emailed me with a list of his available dates for the next couple of months. 'I'm too old to play games or hide the ball,' the email read. 'I really like you, and I want to see if we can make this work,'" she wrote.
The couple dated for nearly a year before Emhoff popped the question at Kamala's apartment with a diamond and platinum ring on March 27, 2014, then tied the knot four months later in a private ceremony, officiated by Kamala's sister Maya, at the Santa Barbara Courthouse.
The litigator had two children (more on them to come) with his ex-wife film producer Kerstin, who Kamala noted in a 2019 ELLE.com essay is her "dear friend," joking that their blended, "modern family is almost a little too functional."
Kamala Harris' Children Cole and Ella
Both of Kamala's stepchildren were born and raised in Los Angeles. Doug and his ex-wife Kerstin welcomed their son Cole in 1995, naming him after jazz musician John Coltrane. He graduated from Colorado College with a bachelor's degree in psychology and served as an assistant at William Morris Endeavor before becoming an executive assistant at Plan B Entertainment.
His younger sister, Ella, named after jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald, was born in 1999. She graduated from high school in 2018 and is an artist majoring in apparel and textiles at Parsons School of Design.
In her ELLE essay, written just a few months after announcing her bid for the presidency, Kamala shared that when she met Doug, she was "determined not to insert myself in their lives until Doug and I had established we were in this for the long haul." She elaborated, "Children need consistency; I didn’t want to insert myself into their lives as a temporary fixture because I didn’t want to disappoint them. There’s nothing worse than disappointing a child."
For that reason, Kamala wanted to wait a while before meeting her now-stepkids. When she did, she brought them cookies, and they "could not have been more welcoming," she wrote. "They are brilliant, talented, funny kids who have grown to be remarkable adults. I was already hooked on Doug, but I believe it was Cole and Ella who reeled me in."
Upon marrying Doug, the California senator and the kids agreed that they weren't fans of the term "stepmom." So, they decided to start calling her "Momala."
Kamala's Sister Maya Harris
After having Kamala, the VP candidate's parents Shyamala Gopalan, an Indian-American biologist and civil rights activist from Madras, India, and Donald J. Harris, a Jamaican-American economist and professor, welcomed their second-born Maya in 1967. She was born in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and Montreal.
Maya is a lawyer, public policy advocate, and a television commentator who had her daughter Meena when she was 17. She has served as a leader for the American Civil Liberties Union, a vice president at the Ford Foundation, and editor of The New Jim Crow by her friend Michelle Alexander. She also worked with Kamala on the campaign trail. No wonder Maya has been referred to as Kamala's "Bobby Kennedy."
Kamala's Niece Meena Harris
Maya's daughter Meena was born in 1984. Today, she's a lawyer, entrepreneur, and New York Times bestselling author. She penned a children's book published this summer called Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea, about two sisters working together to create change in their community—based on a true story from her aunt and mom's childhood.
Meena has also served as a political correspondent and was appointed as one of three senior advisors to lead the development of an agenda for Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign. In 2017, she founded the Phenomenal Woman Action Campaign, which is dedicated to raising awareness around social causes, like moms and kids separated at the border. She currently lives in San Francisco with her partner Nikolas Ajagu, who she met while working at Facebook in 2007, and their two daughters.