Women on Top

Starting out with just a game-changing idea, a bulletproof business plan, or an electrifying design, these women are reinventing their industries and demolishing boys' clubs from the ranks of the military to Silicon Valley. They're all under 40, but those aren't stars in their eyes: They're planning a revolution.

By Sophie Moura

October 20, 2011 9:00 AM
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Peter Hapak
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Top Politician

Heather McTeer, 35, mayor of Greenville, Mississippi

Résumé: McTeer grew up at voting rallies with her activist parents, a civil-rights attorney and a teacher. In 2003, at 27, she was elected mayor of her hometown. She's since erased Greenville's $4 million deficit and won $3 million to purify the town's notorious brown water. In December, she'll run for Congress, representing Mississippi's second district.

Background Check: "When I returned to Greenville after law school, there was a leadership vacuum. The streets hadn't been redone in years! I was an attorney like my dad, and when people suggested I run for mayor, he cross-examined me. Our population was 68 percent African-American, but we'd never had a black or female mayor. I decided just because it hadn't been done didn't mean it couldn't be."

Big Break: "The highlight of election day was seeing little old black ladies with walkers voting. For them to elect someone who looked like them was powerful."

Armed and Dangerous: "I've dealt with racism and sexism, even death and rape threats, in office. Once, I came to city hall to find little notes with pictures of guns scattered everywhere. I wasn't intimidated, but I do take precautions — I carry a Glock, and I'm trained to fire it."

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