What To Know About Barack Obama's Incredible Sisters

Family plays a pivotal role in Barack Obama's life. Michelle Obama discovered this characteristic in her husband when she went to Hawaii to meet Barack's grandparents, and she later deemed his commitment to family an important quality in a partner. "What we need is somebody who respects, and loves their family, and is going to show up for them," she said on her podcast "Michelle Obama: The Light."

Barack has eight half-siblings: six half-brothers and two half-sisters. The seven surviving siblings live all over the globe. While Barack and his maternal half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, spent their childhood together, he didn't meet Auma Obama, his paternal half-sister, until he was a young adult in his 20s. After Auma visited Barack in Chicago, she then invited him to Kenya. At the time, he was filled with questions about his father and paternal half-siblings. "He wanted to know everything about us, everything about my father everything about our family. I took him to so many relatives," Auma informed CNN. "It was part of finding about his own identity."

Regardless of whether or not they grew up together, Barack's two half-sisters share a lot of common ground with their half-brother. All three siblings are authors and non-profit founders. Here's what we know about these fascinating women.

Auma Obama is a humanitarian, speaker, and author

Auma Obama was born in 1960, making her one year older than Barack Obama. Her parents are Barack Obama Sr. and Kezia Obama, his first wife. Although Auma and Barack didn't meet until 1984, she saw photos of him when she was a child in Kenya. Once they got together, their rapport was effortless. "We just started talking as though we'd known each other always," Auma later informed Time. She feels so close to Barack that she doesn't use "half" to describe their sibling connection. 

As an adult, Auma moved to Germany, earning a master's degree from the University of Heidelberg, a doctorate from the University of Bayreuth, and a degree from Berlin's German Flim and Television Academy. Like her brother, Auma has a passion for humanitarian work. After working for CARE International,  Auma created the Sauti Kuu Foundation in 2010. Based in Kenya and Germany, Sauti Kuu provides young people with tools to create and achieve their goals. Auma has also traveled the world delivering speeches on sustainability and development. In 2010, she published a memoir, "And Then Life Happens." 

After Barack became president, Auma stayed grounded and committed to her work. "If it's just about my brother, I'll never be a role model," she explained to Time. However, she was delighted with his achievement. "I'm proud of our name because my brother has really carried our name up there ... it's made its mark in the world," Auma told CNN.

Maya Soetoro-Ng is an educator, author and nonprofit founder

Born on August 15, 1970, Maya Soetoro-Ng is Barack Obama's younger half-sister. Her parents are Barack's mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, and Lolo Soetoro. Barack and Maya were raised in the same household, living first in Indonesia and then moving to Hawaii.  Barack helped his sister with college decisions and asked Maya to join him while he worked as a community organizer in Chicago. 

Maya received both her undergraduate and doctoral degrees from the University of Hawai'i at Manoa, and earned two master's degrees from New York University. After a career teaching social studies, Maya returned to the University of Hawai'i at Manoa, where she teaches courses as part of the Matsunaga Institute for Peace. Maya also works for the Obama Foundation, developing leadership programs in the Asia Pacific region. During Barack's first Presidential bid, Maya helped her half-brother campaign. 

Like Barack's "Dreams from My Father," stories of her family motivated Maya to become an author. In 2011, she published "Ladder to the Moon," a children's story catalyzed by her daughter's desire to learn about Dunham, her late grandmother. "I think our mother definitely influenced us both. She was interested in stories, in storytelling," Maya explained to The New York Times. In 2023, Maya wrote a second children's book, "The First Day of Peace," which she co-authored with Todd Shuster. She and Shuster co-founded the Peace Studio in 2019 — a nonprofit dedicated to using stories to assuage world turmoil and conflict.