Monday, Apr. 04, 2011

Kamala Harris

Age: 46
Occupation: California attorney general
Previous TIME 100 appearances: 0

The nickname "the female Barack Obama" is no small burden to bear. Kamala Harris' rise to become California's first female, black and South Asian attorney general has meant the inevitable national spotlight — and the inevitable comparisons to the man in the White House. But well before Harris became a story simply because of who she is, she started earning attention for her policy stands. Her "Back on Track" program while she was district attorney of San Francisco changed the game on youth crime through a series of initiatives including targeting truancy in elementary schools and expunging drug records if offenders successfully go through job training or re-enter the school system. She has also shown that the choice between innovation and simply being hard on crime is a false one — as demonstrated by an uptick in convictions on her watch in San Francisco. Since having taken state office, Harris has also carried the mantle of same-sex marriage in California, urging the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to permit the unions to take place.