Power used to be measured by the size of your office and the balance of your bank account. Today, it’s all about making an impact. From the big screen to the mobile screen, from the workplace to your wardrobe, women are at the front lines of revolutions in technology, politics, and culture. Meet our fifth-annual list of 50 forward-marching visionaries taking the way we live our lives now to the next level.
Founder & CEO, Thrive Causemetics
Bodnar developed Thrive Causemetics’ vegan, 100 percent cruelty-free cosmetics in her kitchen before officially launching the company, which counts celebrity makeup artists including Jamie Greenberg, Ashley Donovan, and Tina Turnbow as collaborators, in 2015.
Heart of the matter: When Bodnar was 24, she
lost her best friend to cancer; for every Thrive product purchased, one is donated to a woman going through cancer treatment and survivors of domestic abuse.
Founder & CEO, Simple Habit
After selling her first company, Locket, to digital marketplace Wish in 2015, Kim launched Simple Habit, dubbed the Spotify of meditation. The stress of her first career—investment banking—sparked her devotion to the practice.
Ka-ching!: Simple Habit, which offers a library of more than 1,000 guided meditations, raised $2.5 million last spring.
Founder and CEO, Nuna
Kim’s company, which built a digital database of America’s 74 million Medicaid patients and their treatments, will greatly inform health-care spending. Her inspiration? Growing up, Kim’s autistic brother suffered frequent seizures and her Korean immigrant parents struggled in filing for Medicaid.
Mogul moment: Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner John Doerr, an investor in Nuna, picked Kim to accompany him to the White House’s tech summit in June.
Founder and CEO, Ritual
Ritual’s Insta-worthy vitamins encase nine essential nutrients, released after they travel through your stomach thanks to Schneider’s vegan capsule. Before starting the company in 2016, she spent about three years asa startup investor alongside Troy Carter, Lady Gaga’s former manager.
Deal maker: Ritual closed its $10.5 million Series A in August, bringing total funding to more than $15 million.
Founder and CEO, Peach & Lily
Yoon was one of the first to identify Americans’ growing obsession with Korean beauty masks. In 2012, she launched Peach & Lily, an e-commerce site offering hard-to-get (but super-affordable) Korean beauty brands to U.S. consumers, with about 1 million visitors a month. Up next: She’s curating K-beauty pop-ups within select CVS retailers nationwide next year.
Remember when Hollywood bros said a superheroine movie would never perform well at the box office? Neither do we. Jenkins silenced the naysayers by directing 2017’s Wonder Woman, which broke records as the largest-grossing live-action film with a female director (more than $800 million in ticket sales). The feat earned Jenkins, who gained critical acclaim after directing 2003’s Oscar-winning Monster, even more cred in Tinseltown and solidified lead Gal Gadot as a household name.
Up next: Wonder Woman 2 hits theaters in December 2019.
Actress, This Is Us
Starring in one of NBC’s premier TV dramas, Emmy-nominated Metz has becomea major player in the plus-size- acceptance movement. Her character, Kate, struggles with emotional issues tied to her weight, meets her on-screen love interest at Overeaters Anonymous, debates the merits of weight-loss surgery, and offers a candid look at her roller-coaster relationship with food—in an authentic and empowering way.
Cocreator & Executive Producer, Westworld
When die-hard HBO fans aren’t obsessing over Game of Thrones, they’re obsessing over Westworld. Joy created the Emmy-nominated series with her husband.
Game changer: Exploring moral and ethical questions about the impact of robots on society, the show took the country
by storm with an average of 13 million viewers per episode, making it the most-watched first season in HBO history.
In a year plagued by contentious identity politics, IMG Worldwidemodel Hari Nef used her platform to fight for transgender rights and other marginalized communities.
Hot gig: Alongside Petra Collins and Dakota Johnson, Nef was named the face of Gucci for the brand’s new fragrance Gucci Bloom.
Actress, Writer, and Producer, Insecure
Rae’s brainchild, HBO series Insecure, is in its second season and earned her a Golden Globe nominationlast December. The hilariously relatable show followed her cult Web series, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, which racked up 25 million-plus views.
Up next: Rae is reportedly writing the script of a buddy movie starring Rihanna and Lupita Nyong’o (the duo sat together, front-row, at Miu Miu’s fall show in 2014. Twitter went nuts, and the Hollywood gods responded).
Writer, Actress, Comedian
Ramsey hosts MTV’s weekly Web series Decoded, a news show that tackles culture through comedy.
Up next: The one-time YouTube vlogger and former writer and correspondent for The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, has a late-night pilot in development with Comedy Central.
Founder and CEO, Friends at Work
In 2015, John Legend’s longtime manager (the two met as undergraduates at the University of Pennsylvania) launched Friends at Work, a media agency that partners with artists to promote innovation and social impact, after several years at buzzy talent- management firm Atom Factory. She also executive-produced Oscar-nominated La La Land and HBO’s Southern Rites. Up next: Get Lifted, the production company Stiklorius runs with Legend and producer Mike Jackson, signed a multiyear development deal with studio Critical Content.
The writer, producer, and director's next project is the female-powered A Wrinkle in Time, Disney's $120 million-budget blockbuster, out next March. It makes her the first black woman to direct a live-action film with a budget over $100 million.
Up next: That Rihanna/Lupita Nyong'o movie we mentioned earlier? (See Issa Rae.) Oscar-nominated DuVernay is rumored to be directing.
Career Highlight: "My parents watching Selma [which DuVernay directed in 2014] with President and First Lady Obama in the White House."
Senior Engineering Manager, Patreon
A champion for equality in tech (she created the infamous spreadsheet of employee salaries at Google, where she was
an engineer), Baker teamed up with Ellen Pao to establish Project Include, a nonprofit that promotes diversity at startups.
Founder & CEO, Paradigm
Emerson’s company, Paradigm, uses data to determine how businesses have missed—and how they can seize— opportunities to hire with diversity in mind. Her client roster includes Airbnb, Pinterest, Lyft, and Slack.
Founder & CEO, Blendoor
In 2016, Lampkin (who learned to code at 13) launched a “blind” recruiting app that conceals non-crucial information—for example, a candidate’s name—from job recruiters that might create bias in the hiring process.
Founder and CEO, Dia&Co
Frustrated with the lack of stylish clothing options
in the plus-size market, Boujarwah founded Dia&Co, a subscription-based clothing service for fashion-forward women sizes 14 to 32, in 2014.
Miss popular: This year, Boujarwah’s company sur- passed a serious professional bar—1 million customers.
Chef, Author & Host of Ayesha’s Home Kitchen on Food Network
The wife of NBA sensation Steph Curry has built a mini-empire that includes a cookbook, a Food Network show, and a meal-kit delivery service, Homemade, whose preview line sold out in hours.
Up next: She’s quickly making her mark on the San Francisco scene, and her first freestanding restaurant, International Smoke, opens its doors there this month.
Founder and CEO, The Modist
The former financier’s Dubai- and London-based e-commerce site, The Modist, is tapping into the growing demand for chic, conservative clothing by designers like Marni and Rachel Comey.
Girl power: From the buyers to the engineers to the COO, Guenez’s team is more than 75 percent female.
Founder and CEO, Outdoor Voices
Austin, Texas– based Outdoor Voices, founded
by Haney in 2014, makes athletic gear for those who don’t take their workouts too seriously. Its low-key aesthetic, technical design, and “get offline and go outside!” vibe have landed it almost $30 million from major investors.
Famous fans: The line is popular with Lena Dunham, Chloë Grace Moretz, Allison Williams, and Jonah Hill.
Founder and CEO, Stitch Fix
Lake’s light-bulb moment to create Stitch Fix, a digital department store that pairs users with stylists and allows them to try on clothes at home before purchasing, struck while she was an MBA student at Harvard in 2011.
Up next: Rumors of an IPO, valuing the company at around $3 billion, are swirling.
Founder and CEO, Zola
With more than $40 million in funding, Zola and its
digital suite of wedding-planning and registry tools act as a one- stop shop for brides-to-be.
Watch her work: Our advisers say Ma, a former Gilt Groupe executive, and her plans to revolutionize the $58 billion U.S. wedding industry, are the real deal.
Cofounders, Away Travel
Rubio (right) and Korey, who met while working at Warby Parker, used friends’ travel stories to inform their simple yet smart arsenal of luggage. Each item—ranging from $225 to $295—is equipped with a hard shell, silk lining, and USB chargers.
Get packing: Though the company is just under 2 years old, it’s already sold 150,000 suitcases and raised more than $31 million.
Fowler outed her former employer Uber for ignoring the multiple reports of internal harassment and sexism
she faced while working in the company’s engineering department. Her detailed blog post with jaw-dropping anecdotes exploded the Internet in February.
Change maker: Her candid takedown forced Uber to launch an internal investigation, which led to the ousting of 20 employees, including the CEO.
Vice President of National Community Alliances, Teach for America; Cofounder, Campaign Zero; Founder, Love + Power
Packnett helped plan and coordinate 2014’s historic Black Lives Matter protests in Ferguson, Missouri, and now aims to end police violence in America with Campaign Zero. After Election Day 2016, the platform announced new tools to help minorities navigate and resist various Trump administration policies.
Up next: Through her day job at Teach for America, Packnett focuses on creating education opportunities for communities of color, and she recently launched Love + Power, an apparel line that donates proceeds to organizations run by women of color.