Women on Top Awards: The Transformers

For Marie Claire's third annual Women on Top Awards, we combed the country for the up-and-comers leading thought-revolutions, creating businesses, and making names for themselves in fields from the military to the arts. None is a day over 40, with a couple of notable exceptions: We've added a "Super Woman" category to celebrate women of any age who made their mark on 2012. But their accomplishments speak for themselves...

By Sophie Moura

October 22, 2012 9:33 AM
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5. Top Cop

Lanita Cullinane, 38, detective, Boston Police Department

Résumé: Since Cullinane hit the streets of Mattapan — one of Boston's most dangerous neighborhoods — as a rookie officer, she's become one of only 44 female detectives in the entire Boston police force, where she's worked in the Crimes Against Children, Human Trafficking, and Domestic Violence units. In 2011, she received a prestigious public-service award, in part for encouraging a 17-year-old sexual abuse survivor to return to school.

Path to the Top: "My senior year in college, I did an internship with the Boston Police Department, and my supervisors talked me into taking the entrance exam for the police academy. Six months before graduating from Northeastern, I found out I'd gotten in. My mother was scared I'd be in danger, but I loved the allure of it — going out there and locking up criminals."

Defining Moment: "Getting promoted to detective in 2006 was a big deal because I'd have more latitude to be involved in cases from beginning to end. Now I stay in touch with victims long after the court case is over. "

Brave Heart: "This is a violent job — I've been dragged down the street, punched in the face, and cut my arm breaking into a car through a window. But I never cried at work until 2009, when I interviewed a 12-year-old girl who got pregnant after a sexual assault by her father. I wasn't sure if I could stomach seeing these things all day. But it made me more committed. I like to be the voice for the groups who don't have a voice for themselves."

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