Meet Maya Soetero-Ng, the half-sister of Barack Obama. She is speaking on opening night of the Democratic National Convention offering the “family upbringing” perspective. Read her biography, see photos and a video below.

Barack Obama’s mother, father and grandfather are deceased, and his grandmother is too ill to travel. We know he doesn’t associate with all of those half-brothers of his, so it has fallen to his younger half-sister, Maya Soetero-Ng to fill in the picture of Obama and the women who molded him during childhood at the opening night of the Democratic Convention in Denver.

It is an odd picture, defined in part by footwear – one of my favorite subjects. Soetoro-Ng told Obama volunteers this summer that their mother wore Birkenstock sandals, “hopped on the backs of motorcycles with women in rural credit programs all over the world” and “insisted that we engage in a life of service.”

Their grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, was “the net beneath us.” Soetoro-Ng says her grandmother wore 4-inch heels, both at work and to inspect her husband’s lawn-mowing.

Recently, Maya Soetoro-Ng talked about the apartment her ailing grandmother has lived in for nearly 40 years,

“the same apartment, by the way, where she helped raise Barack.” She says. “That’s our ranch, our Kennebunkport. A 550-square-foot apartment in Hawaii.” She smiles again. “If those walls could talk.”

Oh, I bet.

Maya Soetoro-Ng Biography

Maya Kassandra Soetoro-Ng was born on August 15, 1970 in Jakarta, Indonesia so her age is 38. She is the half sister of Democratic Party nominee Barack Obama, the junior United States Senator from Illinois.

Barack Obama and Soetoro-Ng are both the children of Stanley Ann Dunham, a white woman with Kansas roots. Obama’s father was black – Barack Obama, Sr.; and Maya’s was Indonesian – Lolo Soetoro.

Like her half-brother Barack, Maya attended the prestigious private Punahou School. She later received her Ph.D. in Education from the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 2006.

Maya Soetoro-Ng is nine years younger than Obama. Her mother moved back to Hawaii after divorcing her father when she was 9. She says this made Obama the father figure in her life. He toured colleges with her, showed her New York and Chicago and gave her her first novels.

Maya Soetoro-Ng is a high school history teacher in Honolulu and has further stirred the family’s ethnic stew by marrying Konrad Ng, a Chinese-Canadian professor at the University of Hawaii. They have one daughter, Suhaila. They are practicing Buddhists.

Maya Soetoro-Ng Video