Maya Soetoro-Ng

Maya Soetoro-Ng

Maya Soetoro-Ng, 2009
Born Maya Kassandra Soetoro
August 15, 1970 (1970-08-15) (age 41)
Jakarta, Indonesia
Residence Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
Ethnicity Indonesian-American
Citizenship American
Education B.A., M.A., Ph.D
Alma mater Barnard College,
New York University,
University of Hawai'i at Manoa
Occupation Writer
Religion Buddhism
Spouse Konrad Ng
Children Suhaila Ng (born 2004)
Savita Ng
Parents Lolo Soetoro and Ann Dunham

Maya Kassandra Soetoro-Ng (pronounced /ˈmaɪ.ə suːˈtɔəroʊ ˈɪŋ/;[1] born August 15, 1970 in Jakarta, Indonesia[2]) is the maternal half-sister of Barack Obama, the 44th and current President of the United States. She was previously a high school history teacher[3] and university instructor in Hawaii.


Early life

Soetoro-Ng was born Maya Soetoro to Indonesian businessman Lolo Soetoro and American 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.[4]

Soetoro-Ng and Obama spent several years together in Indonesia and in Hawaii before her mother decided to return to Indonesia with her.[3]

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).[5]

While living in Indonesia, she was home schooled by her mother and then attended Jakarta International School from 1981 to 1984.[6] Like her older half-brother, Soetoro-Ng returned to Hawaii and attended the private Punahou School in Honolulu, Hawaii,[7] graduating in 1988.[8]

She is an alumna of Barnard College in Manhattan, New York. She received an M.A. degree in secondary language studies and an M.A. degree in English from New York University[9] and a Ph.D degree in international comparative education from the University of Hawaii.[10]

Soetoro-Ng has often spoken warmly about her relationship with her older half-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.[3]


Soetoro-Ng speaks during the first day of the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado.

Soetoro-Ng authored a children's book, Ladder to the Moon, that was inspired by her mother and her daughter, Suhaila; it was published in 2011.[11][12]It's also reported that she is working on a book about peace education and conflict resolution in high schools.[3]

She was a high-school history teacher at La Pietra: Hawaii School for Girls and the Education Laboratory School, both in Honolulu, Hawaii. She also taught night classes at the University of Hawaii.[13] She previously taught and developed curriculum at The Learning Project, an alternative public middle school in New York City, from 1996–2000.[14]

In 2009 Soetoro-Ng helped bring her mother's dissertation to publication in the form of the book Surviving against the Odds: Village Industry in Indonesia.[15] She wrote a foreword to the book and participated in its launch at the American Anthropological Association annual meeting. Most recently, she was an Education Specialist at the East West Center and an Assistant Professor at the University of Hawai'i College of Education.


Maya's doctoral research at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in Honolulu focused on Comparative International Education, and involved a study comparing an international school in Indonesia where she taught, 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 Obama in his campaign for president,[16][17] and took two months off to campaign for him.[18] Soetoro-Ng participated in the 2008 Democratic National Convention[19] where she spoke briefly about growing up with her half-brother and brought an Asian-American presence to the stage.[20]


In 2003[21] Soetoro married Chinese Canadian Konrad Ng (Simplified Chinese: 吴加儒)[citation needed] of Burlington, Ontario, Canada.[22][23] Her husband, now also a US citizen,[24] is an assistant professor at the University of Hawaii's Academy of Creative Media.[25] They have two daughters, Suhaila[25] and Savita. Konrad Ng became the scholar-in-residence at the Smithsonian Institution’s Asian Pacific American Program in 2009.[3]

Soetoro-Ng has described herself as "philosophically Buddhist."[18] She is fluent in the Indonesian language,[26] Spanish,[27] and English.


  • Ladder to the Moon (2011)
  • Mixed: Portraits of Multiracial Kids by Kip Fulbeck (2010) – Soetoro-Ng is credited with writing the foreword


  1. ^ YouTube: Barack Obama's sister Maya explains the Hawaii Caucus.
  2. ^ Obama Family Tree
  3. ^ a b c d e Swarns, Rachel (July 31, 2009). "Obama and sister to share a town". New York Times. Retrieved September 6, 2009. 
  4. ^ Clark, Paul C. (September 25, 2008). "Obama's Better Half Appeals To Women". Rhinoceros Times. Retrieved October 28, 2008. 
  5. ^ 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. November 5, 2008 Edition.
  6. ^
  7. ^ Half sister launches Hawaii family support for Obama
  8. ^ Carlyn Tani (Spring 2007). "A kid called Barry: Barack Obama '79". Punahou Bulletin. Punahou School. Retrieved March 12, 2009. [dead link]
  9. ^ "Barack Obama and Joe Biden: The Change We Need". Konrad's Blog. Retrieved January 20, 2009. 
  10. ^ Democratic National Convention 2008, brief bio, [1] Retrieved Jan 19, 2009
  11. ^ Obama's Half-Sister to Release Children's Book NY Times, April 2, 2009
  12. ^ Stolberg, Sheryl Gay (13 April 2011). "Maya Soetoro-Ng Is the Latest Obama-Family Author". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 April 2011. 
  13. ^ "Barack Obama's Sister Debuts as Campaigner". cbs2Chicago. May 12, 2007. 
  14. ^ Democratic National Convention 2008, brief bio, Retrieved Jan 19, 2009
  15. ^ Dunham, S. Ann; Maya Soetoro-Ng (foreword) (2009). Alice G. Dewey and Nancy I. Cooper. ed. Surviving Against the Odds: Village Industry in Indonesia. Durham, N.C: Duke University Press. ISBN 0-8223-4687-7. Retrieved 12 April 2011. 
  16. ^ Obama's Sister Debuts as Campaigner -
  17. ^ The Gaggle : Watch Out, Hillary! If You Think I’m All About the Politics of Hope, Wait ’Til You Meet My Half-Sister!
  18. ^ a b Solomon, Deborah (January 20, 2008). "All in the Family". New York Times. 
  19. ^ Pelosi, Michelle Obama to kick off Dem Convention
  20. ^ "Asian Dispatchers from the 2008 DNC". AsianWeek. Retrieved on August 29, 2008.
  21. ^ Nolan, Daniel (June 11, 2008). "Relative: Obama's got 'a good handle on Canada'". The Hamilton Spectator. Retrieved July 3, 2008. 
  22. ^ Nolan, Daniel (June 11, 2008). "Obama's Burlington connection". The Hamilton Spectator. Retrieved June 21, 2008. [dead link]
  23. ^ Misner, Jason (June 20, 2008). "Barack Obama was here". Burlington Post. Retrieved July 3, 2008. 
  24. ^ Cooper, Tom (January 20, 2009). "Keep watch for Obama". The Hamilton Spectator. Retrieved January 28, 2009. 
  25. ^ a b Fornek, Scott (September 9, 2007). "'He helped me find my voice'". Chicago Sun-Times.,BSX-News-wotreehh09.article. 
  26. ^ Green, Stephanie; Glover, Elizabeth (August 10, 2009). "Sister and niece act". The Washington Times. Retrieved September 6, 2009. 
  27. ^ Goodman, Ellen (January 25, 2008). "Transcending race and identity". The Boston Globe. Retrieved August 31, 2009. 

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