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Maya Kassandra Soetoro-Ng ( ; born August 15, 1970 in Jakartamarker, Indonesiamarker) is the maternal half-sister of Barack Obama, the President of the United States. She previously was a high school history teacher and university instructor in Hawaiimarker.

Early life

Soetoro-Ng was born Maya Soetoro to Indonesianmarker businessman Lolo Soetoro and Americanmarker cultural anthropologist Ann Dunham. Her elder half-brother is the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama. She has said she was named after American poet Maya Angelou.

Soetoro-Ng and her elder brother spent several years together in Indonesia and in Hawaii before her mother decided to return to Indonesia with her.

After her parents divorced in 1980, her father remarried. From this marriage, Soetoro-Ng has another half-brother, Yusuf Aji Soetoro (b. 1981), and a half-sister, Rahayu Nurmaida Soetoro (b. 1984).

While living in Indonesia, she was home schooled by her mother and then attended Jakarta International School from 1981 to 1984. Like her older brother, Soetoro-Ng returned to Hawaii and attended the private Punahou Schoolmarker in Honolulu, Hawaiimarker, graduating in 1988.

She is an alumna of Barnard Collegemarker in Manhattan, New Yorkmarker. She received an M.A. degree in secondary language studies and an M.A. degree in English from New York Universitymarker and a Ph.D degree in international comparative education from the University of Hawaiimarker.

Soetoro-Ng has often spoken warmly about her relationship with her older brother, which she says has remained strong even though they have often lived far apart. As adults, they have often celebrated Christmas in Hawaii, and savor the time they spend with their families together.


Currently, Soetoro-Ng is under contract to write a children's book, Ladder to the Moon, that is inspired by her mother and her daughter, Suhaila. It's also reported that she is working on a book about peace education and conflict resolution in high schools.

She was a high-school history teacher at La Pietra: Hawaii School for Girls in Honolulu, Hawaiimarker. She also taught night classes at the University of Hawaii. She previously taught and developed curriculum at The Learning Project, an alternative public middle school in New York Citymarker, from 1996–2000.


Maya's Doctorate research at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in Honolulu focused on Comparative International Education, and involved a comparative study between an international school in Indonesia where she taught and spent time, and a school in New York. She particularly looked at qualitative differences, interviewing students, staff, and other people involved in the two schools.

Obama presidential campaign

In May 2007, Soetoro-Ng announced that she would assist her brother in his campaign for president, and took two months off to campaign for him. Soetoro-Ng participated in the 2008 Democratic National Convention where she spoke briefly about growing up with her older brother and brought an Asian-American presence to the stage.


In 2003 Soetoro married Konrad Ng (Simplified Chinese: 吴加儒) of Burlington, Ontariomarker, Canadamarker. Her husband is the Canadian-born son of Malaysian Chinese immigrants and an assistant professor at the University of Hawaiimarker's Academy of Creative Media. They have two daughters, Suhaila and Savita. Konrad Ng currently is a U.S. citizen. He became the scholar-in-residence at the Smithsonian Institutionmarker’s Asian Pacific American Program in 2009.

Soetoro-Ng has described herself as "philosophically Buddhist." She speaks Indonesian, Spanish and English.


  1. YouTube: Barack Obama's sister Maya explains the Hawaii Caucus.
  2. Obama Family Tree
  3. Habib, Ridlwan. "Keluarga Besar Lolo Soetoro, Kerabat Dekat Calon Presiden Amerika/Lolo Soetoro's Extended Family, Close Relatives to American Presidential Nominee". Jawa Pos Daily. 5 November 2008 Edition.
  5. Half sister launches Hawaii family support for Obama
  6. Democratic National Convention 2008, brief bio, [1] Retrieved 19 Jan 2009
  7. Obama's Half-Sister to Release Children's Book NY Times, April 2, 2009
  8. Democratic National Convention 2008, brief bio, Retrieved 19 Jan 2009
  9. Obama's Sister Debuts as Campaigner -
  10. The Gaggle : Watch Out, Hillary! If You Think I’m All About the Politics of Hope, Wait ’Til You Meet My Half-Sister!
  11. Pelosi, Michelle Obama to kick off Dem Convention
  12. "Asian Dispatchers from the 2008 DNC". AsianWeek. Retrieved on August 29, 2008.
  13. Chicago Sun Times article with her picture

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