Meet Maya Oaks

We want to take this opportunity to showcase key people who have been essential in the development of Harboring Hearts. Without the help of our amazing board members, volunteers and interns, we would not be where we are today.

Forward by Yuki Kotani

Maya Oaks is one of our amazing and dedicated Board of Directors.  She has provided guidance for the organization and has used her knowledge in social work and program development to create and implement our Grant Program.  This program provides financial assistance to heart patients and their families.

Maya brings the energy and passion necessary for Harboring Hearts to grow.

Thank you Maya for your support and hard work.  Read below to learn more about our amazing board member.


Name – Maya Oaks

Current Occupation – Civil Servant, Office of Head Start/Administration for Children and Families

How and why did you get involved with Harboring Hearts? – I connected to Harboring Hearts through a group named Palindrome Advisors, which links industry leaders to nonprofit organizations. When I first sat down to speak with the co-founders, I was struck by their passion and was excited to be part of a rapidly growing organization. I’ve also seen firsthand the impact chronic disease can have on patients, families and friends, and know that the support and resources provided by Harboring Hearts are crucial.

How do you balance your career and giving back so successfully? – It’s tough, to be sure! When you’re thinking about both careers and volunteering, I think the key is to find organizations, people and causes that inspire you. If you love what you do, it won’t really feel like it’s a difficult balance. I also have had to be pretty realistic about what I can and can’t do, and to tell myself that there are only so many hours in any given day!

Who or what have been your greatest inspirations in your life, your career, and your volunteer experience? – There are two experiences in my adult life that have really shaped the work I pursue today: building HIV/AIDS awareness in a remote village in Tanzania and working with adolescents in New York City’s juvenile justice system. While on the surface these experiences appear to be radically different, both of them were integral in shaping the way I approach working with undeserved and underrepresented populations. In both places, I encountered people who taught me so much more than I ever could have imagined.

What are your favorite memories about Harboring Hearts? – I’m relatively new to Harboring Hearts and am looking forward to cultivating many more memories in the year to come! However, my favorite memory thus far is probably the first Board meeting I attended, when the passion and dedication of all those connected to the organization became even more evident to me.

Maya’s Favorites

  • Favorite City? It’s a tie between three cities for three very different reasons: New York (for its diversity), San Francisco (for its strong activist tendencies) and Paris (for its beauty and general joie de vivre).
  • Favorite Food? My mom’s Burmese chicken curry.
  • Favorite Activity? Exploring new places – whether a new park, museum, neighborhood, city, country, or continent.
  • Favorite Music?  Depends entirely on my mood, although I love pretty much every genre. Right now, the Wicked soundtrack seems to be running through my head…
  • Favorite Museum? The Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.
  • Favorite Travel Destination? That’s like asking a child to pick his favorite toy at FAO Schwarz! But if I had to choose, I would probably say Tanzania and other countries in the East Africa region.
  • Favorite Book? The Time Traveler’s Wife.
  • Favorite Movie? Another hard category! Like music, it depends entirely on my mood. I recently watched Marley and Me, which I think is an especially poignant movie for anyone who grew up with a labrador retriever.