We are so excited to introduce our new Power Women Series where we will be introducing women who are making an impact. To kick off our series, we are thrilled for you to meet Meena Harris. Read on to learn more about Meena.
Photography by Ashley Kelemen.
Please share who you are and what you do professionally?
I’m currently Head of Strategy & Leadership at Uber, where I lead brand transformation initiatives focused on culture, diversity and inclusion, and community engagement. I’m a lawyer by training, and I've worked in corporate law and tech for most of my career, but entrepreneurship and social justice advocacy have also been my passions. Two years ago I founded the Phenomenal Woman Action Campaign, which is a female-powered civic engagement organization that brings awareness to social causes.
When and why did you start the Phenomenal Woman campaign? What are your long term goals for it?
I launched the Phenomenal Woman Action Campaign following the 2016 election, and it started off as a very small idea: it was a one-month fundraising campaign to benefit women’s organizations. Like many people during that time, I struggled with what was happening in our country, and I wanted to find a way to make a positive impact, however small. (First I actually launched a Pantsuit Drive!) Inspired by Maya Angelou’s poem, Phenomenal Woman, I decided to make a few t-shirts with the same phrase written across the chest, and I sent them to friends who were participating in the Women’s March. It was a way of celebrating the women — specifically the black women, like Maya Angelou — who came before us and paved the way for all of us to come together to march on Washington. It was also a way to celebrate that historic moment, to recognize that women were organizing, rising up, and speaking out in unprecedented ways. I wanted to remind women that any action, no matter how small — such as buying a t-shirt that benefits nonprofits, and talking about women’s equality on Instagram — has the power to create change.
In the long term, I want to expand our community and continue to bring awareness to intersectional issues that distinctly affect underrepresented communities.
Kamala Harris is your Aunt! How active are you on her campaign? How can others get involved?
I’ve been involved with every one of her political campaigns, both behind the scenes and in formal roles. I’m excited to continue supporting her in any way that I can.
You can get involved in lots of ways, like phone banking and fundraising, but what I would urge people to seriously consider is spending a week with a group of friends in early states like Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina, and to interact face-to-face with voters before the primaries. There’s nothing more invigorating and inspiring in a presidential campaign — and as a native Californian, I can say that it’s even worth enduring the snow! More than that, this could be the most consequential election of our lives, and you’ll want to look back knowing that you made a real difference.
Describe your personal style. Do you have a certain look or brand that is your go-to for power dressing?
My day-to-day personal style in San Francisco is really basic and casual: lots of tees and jeans. I also love streetwear, oversized clothing, and slides. I’m honestly not a super stylish person, like it doesn’t come effortlessly to me, but I’ve also realized that it’s something I can sort of learn through observation. When I find something I love though, for better or for worse I go ALL IN. Right now that’s pantsuits, and for that, I’m obsessed with the brand Argent.
Being a female entrepreneur is a powerful thing. Can you please share a few words of wisdom/advice to someone that wants to start her own company?
It’s powerful but it’s also really, really hard. There are high highs and low lows, however, it’s also a constant learning opportunity if you allow it to be — challenge yourself to think creatively, always iterate, be a problem solver, but also give yourself space to mess up and improve from that. Seek out mentorship and feedback from peers, and through that process, be honest with yourself about what you’re building and where you want to go. One of my real-talk mantras is that not every good idea is worth quitting your day job.
What are you most proud of?
My kids. They're awesome.
What advice would you share with your younger self?
Life is long, and you have a lot of time to build a career, so pursue your passions and interests along the way, even if you’re not able to commit to them full-time. Also, don’t take yourself too seriously.
What are you reading right now? What are you listening to?
I religiously listen to How I Built This, and I wish I had more time to read something other than the news/political analysis.