The 50 Most Powerful Moms of 2017 | Working Mother

The 50 Most Powerful Moms of 2017

Working Mother presents our annual list of inspiring moms, who are fearlessly leading everything from online meccas to global movements.

Aren’t all working moms powerful? Why yes, we are. Balancing the demands of career and family is a challenge that isn’t for the faint of heart. Often, it calls for merciless multitasking, artful prioritizing and justified juggling. The most rewarding part of cultivating our yearly Most Powerful Working Moms list is the opportunity it gives us all to learn about how notable influencers—movers and shakers from a wide variety of personal and professional backgrounds—manage to get it all done. Also, we are endlessly inspired by how they pay their good fortune forward and motivate their fellow working moms to keep climbing. We hope you’ll agree this year’s crop of 50 women (with kids 21 and under) are leaders in their respective industries, doing what they can to make the world a better place—and proving the juggle is real.

 

ACTIVISTS/NONPROFITS/PHILANTHROPY

 

Melinda Gates, Co-Chair and Trustee, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation/Businesswoman

Melinda Gate

Melinda Gates at the 2013 Glamour Women of the Year Awards.

Photo: JStone/Shutterstock.com

Children: Jennifer, 21, Rory, 17, Phoebe, 14

Melinda Gates is practically engraved on our list—not just because she’s formidably wealthy—but because she actively uses her money and power to improve the lives of others every year. In just one example of her awe-inspiring impact: The Gates Foundation has helped immunize 580 million children around the world since 2000. In recognition of her efforts, Melinda and her husband Bill received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016. But her newest endeavor may be her bravest yet: Pivotal Ventures, an office that allows her to pursue ideas, projects and potential investments that don’t fit within the structure of the foundation. In a recent interview with The Atlantic, Gates, who studied computer science at Duke, extolled the virtues of plugging “leaky pipelines” in learning, ending the bias that boys are better at programming than girls and restoring gender balance to work-life challenges on a corporate level. She said, “The reason it’s got to be paid family leave, not maternal leave, is that if a man will take time off, then they’ll help with the kids all the way through the raising of a child, not just at the beginning. So there has to be some change in the work-life balance with companies too.” We couldn’t agree more.

*Linda Sarsour and *Bob Bland, National Co-Chairs of Women’s March on Washington

Linda Sarsour and Bob Bland

The two activists organized the Woman's March, which drew millions of protestors across the globe.

Photo: womensmarch.com

Children: Sarsour: Tamir, 16, Sabreen, 14, Sajida, 11; Bland: Penny, 6, Chloe, 6 months

Linda and Bob earned their place on our list for organizing the Woman’s March, a mammoth, global protest this past January—the world’s biggest uprising in defense of women’s rights. Brooklyn-based fashion designer, entrepreneur and activist, Bob Bland, CEO and founder of Manufacture New York, had the same idea as a retired lawyer Teresa Shook who, looking to create an outlet for her post-election outrage, called for a protest march. Bob, in her own Facebook post, called for a “Million Pussy March,” and wound up joining forces with Shook and many others to form a team (including Sarsour) to lead the charge. None other than Gloria Steinem thanked her for bringing her baby onstage at the Women’s March. Linda, a New Yorker raised by Palestinian immigrants, is a seasoned activist for both the Arab-American Association and the Black Lives Matter movement. “These women are the suffragists of our time,” said U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (also on our list) in a Time piece naming the women some of the 100 Most Influential People of 2016. She continued, “And our movement isn’t going away—it’s just the beginning.”

*Helle Thorning-Schmidt, CEO, Save the Children

Helle Thorning-Schmidt

Helle Thorning-Schmidt's work has helped countless children around the world.

Photo: Helle Thorning-Schmidt

Children: Johanna, 20, and Camilla, 17

Helle makes a real difference in the lives of kids around the world, heading a charity that spends $2 billion on 55 million children in 120 countries. Formerly Denmark’s first female Prime Minister, Helle helped steer the nation through the financial crisis. At Fortune’s Most Powerful Women International Summit, she said her father always told her and her sister that they should be prime ministers, though he was in no way involved in politics. She always had designs to make the world a better place, starting an anti-bullying campaign at school when she was 12. With respect to her career, she attributed some of her success to conflict preparedness. “You should never be afraid of a fight. There’s always a fight. There’s always someone who is out to get you. If you aren’t ready for it, you’ll be surprised by it,” she said. At the summit, she called for a united European solution for the refugee crisis, explaining that half of the refugees in need of help are likely children.

*Amal Clooney, Human Rights Attorney

Amal Clooney

The lawyer (and mom-to-be) has made a name for herself by standing up for human rights.

Photo: magicinfoto/Shutterstock.com

Children: Expecting twins in June

This soon-to-be powerful working mom makes our list not because she’s married to gorgeous George Clooney, but because she’s one of the most powerful human rights attorneys in the world. Amal knows first-hand what it’s like to be a refugee, as her parents fled war-torn Lebanon for Europe in the early 1980s. Earning law degrees from Oxford and NYU, she clerked for Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor (then a former federal appeals judge). Fluent in Arabic and French, Amal takes on crimes against humanity, representing the country of Armenia in its fight for recognition of the Armenian Genocide, and she went on CNN to defend Yazidi (a religion that combines Zoroastrianism with Islam, Christianity and Judaism) women used as sex slaves by ISIS, demanding that ISIS members be tried for war crimes. She even offered to take on the war crimes of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. We can’t wait to see how she mediates motherhood.

 

ARTS/ENTERTAINMENT

 

Adele, Musician/Songwriter/Producer

Adele

The powerful singer has been an advocate for self-care and mothers who suffer from PPD.

Photo: DFree/Shutterstock.com

Children: Angelo, 4

One can’t possibly imagine a mantle large enough to shelve all of Adele’s awards—she cleaned up at this year’s Grammy Awards, bringing home Album of the Year, Song of the Year and Record of the Year. Yet, this humble, über-talented working​ mom thought her Album of the Year Grammy should go to fellow working mom, Beyoncé, calling her “the artist of my life.” In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, Adele opened up about her struggle with postpartum depression, and how she learned to give herself breaks here and there. “Eventually I just said, I’m going to give myself an afternoon a week, just to do whatever the f**k I want without my baby. A friend of mine said, ‘Really? Don’t you feel bad?’ I said, I do, but not as bad as I’d feel if I didn’t do it. Four of my friends felt the same way I did, and everyone was too embarrassed to talk about it; they thought everyone would think they were a bad mom, and it’s not the case. It makes you a better mom if you give yourself a better time.” Well said, Adele.

*Samantha Bee, Television Host/Writer/Producer

Samantha Bee

The host and comedian has become one of the biggest names in late-night.

Photo: TBS

Children: Piper, 11, Fletcher, 8, Ripley, 6

This the year of Samantha Bee. Her television show, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee is highly respected and relentlessly feminist, taking on our current political climate with tack-sharp intelligence and sheer satiric brilliance. Ratings have doubled to 2.5 million since the election—she has nearly twice as many viewers as The Daily Show. In a recent interview with Wired, Sam celebrated the liberation she’s found in her take-no-prisoners approach. “I’ve been a people pleaser all my life, and there’s still a remnant of that person, but it’s getting smaller and smaller. It’s slipping down the drain.” Co-produced by her husband, comedian and fellow Daily Show alum Jason Jones, Full Frontal is somewhat of a family affair. She recently joked with Page Six the key to their work-life balance lies in how little they do for themselves: “We basically just work, raise our kids and then we pass out at 8:30 p.m. We’re not cool; that really helps. We don’t go out and that’s basically the key.” You’re plenty cool to us, Samantha.

Beyoncé, Actress/Musician/Producer

Beyoncé

Beyoncé at a gala for the WACO Theatre Center.

Photo: beyonce.com

Children: Blue Ivy, 5, Expecting twins in spring

She’s here to slay, here to stay and the numbers prove it: Forbes estimated Beyoncé’s fortune at around $265 million in 2016 and called her and her husband Jay-Z the highest earning celebrity couple of 2016. The success of her number-one album, Lemonade, earned her an Album of the Year Grammy (among others), and a $256-million-dollar-grossing world tour. Oh, and she was runner-up for Time’s 2016 Person of the Year. (In defense, she lost out to the president.) In Time, Melissa Harris-Perry applauded Bey for “finding her distinct voice” and embracing “explicitly feminist blackness at a politically risky moment.” Always visually driven and compellingly on point, she announced her pregnancy with twins via an Instagram post wearing a veil and surrounded by flowers as a modern-day Madonna with child, but is keeping mum on the gender of the babies. If anyone deserves to go on maternity leave, it’s this hard-working lady.

Viola Davis, Actress/Producer

Viola Davis

Viola Davis at the Academy Awards, where she took home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

Photo: Jaguar PS/Shutterstock.com

Children: Genesis, 6

Julliard-trained actress Viola Davis is entrenched on our list for an oeuvre that gets more impressive with each passing year. She became the first black actress to have earned an Emmy, an Oscar, a Golden Globe and a Tony for acting, after winning a Best Supporting Actress Oscar and Golden Globe this year for her heart-wrenching role in Fences. These trophies will look great on her mantle next to her two Tonys, a SAG award for her lead role in 2011’s The Help and, last year, an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her juicy role as Annalise on How to Get Away with Murder. In her moving acceptance speech, she thanked her husband and daughter for being “the foundation of my life” and championed the too-often untold stories of real people living real lives: “People ask me all the time, what kind of stories do you want to tell, Viola? And I say, exhume those bodies. Exhume those stories. The stories of the people who dreamed big and never saw those dreams to fruition. People who fell in love and lost. I became an artist—and thank God I did—because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life.”

*Nicole Kidman, Actress/Producer

Nicole Kidman

Nicole Kidman at the Academy Awards, where she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress.

Photo: Tinseltown/Shutterstock.com

Children: Isabella, 24, Connor, 22, Sunday Rose, 8, Faith Margaret, 6

Nicole’s been stealing hearts on the big screen going all the way back to her breakout role in Days of Thunder. Since then, she’s snagged an Oscar (for her work in The Hours in 2003) and four nominations. But her body of work in 2016—and how much it resonated with moms everywhere—is what earned her a spot on our list for the first year. Kidman, who adopted her children with Tom Cruise, earned a well-deserved Oscar nomination for playing an adoptive mom with heartbreaking poignancy in Lion. She also served as executive producer along with Reese Witherspoon (also on our list below) for HBO’s hit series Big Little Lies, where her searing portrayal of Celeste, a victim of domestic abuse, reminded us yet again why this mom’s acting chops are top-notch. Even better, Nicole and Reese are committed to bringing more stories like these—of complex, inspirational women—to life. We can’t wait to watch.

Donna Langley, Chairman, Universal Pictures

Donna Langley

The Hollywood exec has been behind some of your favorite hit movies.

Photo: Universal Pictures

Children: Paolo, 8, Adello, 6

In her role since 2013, Donna is the brains behind the box-office hits that break industry records: think the Bourne series, the Fifty Shades movies, the critically acclaimed Get Out and the soon-to-be-released Fate of the Furious—the 8th film in the hugely successful Fast and the Furious franchise that’s raked in over $4 billion. But it’s not just about the Benjamins for this Hollywood mega-mogul: She recently gave a keynote address at Variety’s Inclusion Summit touting the importance of diversity, saying, “Our distribution organization is geared toward making all different types of movies at different pricepoints for all different types of people. It’s the beauty of having the flexibility within this really big system. We can support these great and diverse stories.”

Melissa McCarthy, Actress/Producer/Writer/Fashion Designer

Melissa McCarthy

The actress and comedian has taken her talents behind the camera as well.

Photo: DFree/Shutterstock.com

Children: Vivian, 10, Georgette, 7

Just when you think you’ve seen Melissa ascend to a new level of brilliance, she ups the ante—her Saturday Night Live impression of White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, aka “Spicey,” made global headlines and had us all ROTFL to the point of convulsions. This past year, she also revived her role as Sookie in the hugely popular Gilmore Girls Netflix revival—the show that launched her career. With an Emmy (Mike and Molly) and Oscar nomination (Bridesmaids) under her belt, Melissa writes and produces movies and television with husband Ben Falcone (her Bridesmaids co-star). Their latest project promises to be another hit for the duo: A series for TV Land called Nobodies, about comedians and sketch performers vying for work. Life of the Party, a film co-written and starring Melissa and directed by Ben, is set for a 2018 release. Last and possibly best, she’ll host Saturday Night Live again on May 13, joining just three other women who have hosted five times or more.

Shonda Rhimes, Producer/Director/Writer

Shonda Rhimes

The powerful mom is responsible for some of the biggest hit shows on TV.

Photo: Kathy Hutchins/Shutterstock.com

Children: Harper, 15, Emerson, 5, Beckett, 3

The queen of primetime television, Shonda’s production company, Shondaland, continues to serve up some of the best entertainment you can find on the small screen. Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder and The Catch are all anchored by a coterie of strong female leads and compelling storylines that keep us riveted, week after week. And she’s not done yet: She’ll executive produce a new legal drama this year. Last year, she guest-edited an issue of Good Housekeeping, and reaffirmed why we love her (and her delightfully complex heroines): In a one-on-one interview, she said she’d much rather raise a stubborn girl than a nice girl. She also admits to waking as early as the rooster crows to carve out some time for herself and having lots of help to make her work-life balance happen. “Admitting that is a service to other women,” she said. “Because if you ask someone, ‘How do you do it all?’ and they say, ‘I do yoga!’ it makes you think, That's it? That's how your children are clean and you've made 50 cupcakes? I always felt like a hot mess. I like to speak out about having help because it's unfair if women think I'm doing it all myself.”

Dana Walden, Co-Chairman/CEO, Fox Television Group: 20th Century Fox Television, FOX Broadcasting Company

Dana Walden

This executive has had a hand in some of the biggest TV events of the year.

Photo: Corey Nickols

Children: Aliza, 17, Casey, 14

As co-chair and CEO of Fox Television Group since 2014, Dana (along with business partner Gary Newman) is instrumental in bringing you your fave shows, like the runaway hit, This is Us (ABC), Empire (FOX), Lethal Weapon (FOX), the new Shots Fired (FOX), Modern Family (ABC), American Horror Story (FX) and Homeland (Showtime), as well as built-in ratings bonanazas like the Super Bowl and World Series. A recent recipient of a NATPE Brandon Tartikoff Legacy award for excellence in television, Dana once told Glamour she sometimes struggles—as we all do—when shifting gears between work and home. She said, “I've been clear with every boss I've ever had: Family comes first. I'm home for dinner as many nights as possible ... When the kids were younger, I'd white-knuckle it home just to see them before they went to sleep, and I'd bring in all the wrong energy. My husband does not like interacting with Boss Lady! It's not good for my relationship. He's very good at shifting my energy. He opens the door and says, ‘Honey, you're home.’”

Kerry Washington, Actress/Activist

Kerry Washington

Kerry Washington celebrating 100 episodes of Scandal.

Photo: DFree/Shutterstock.com

Children: Isabelle, 3, Caleb, 6 months

Where Olivia Pope opted not to have children, Kerry, the formidable actress who plays her, is deep in the throes of early motherhood with the recent birth of her second child, Caleb. Aside from playing the brilliant, complicated White House fixer, she’s fresh from Emmy-noms as both lead actress and producer for her HBO Anita Hill biopic, Confirmation. Through her production company Simpson Street, she’s developing new projects for television, movies and theater with strong female leads. Currently, she’s at work on an adaptation of Brit Bennett’s debut novel, The Mothers. The George Washington University grad is also trying to get some sleep, as she joked during a Golden Globes interview with Extra: “It’s the best acting of my life right here, the well-rested woman.” We know it well, Kerry!

Reese Witherspoon, Actress/Producer/Entrepreneur

Reese Witherspoon

Reese Witherspoon at the premiere of her movie Sing.

Photo: Tinseltown/Shutterstock.com

Children: Ava, 17, Deacon, 13, Tennessee, 4

Reese has the Midas touch—the savvy businesswoman has a way of developing and choosing projects that empower and resonate deeply with women. She told Yahoo Style her latest project with HBO, as actor and producer of Liane Moriarty’s best-selling book Big Little Lies, stemmed from a need for better roles for women. “Buying books that have complex and real interior lives of women is my life’s work. I’m a storyteller, but I’m passionate that women have stories that need to be told.” What’s more, the new Elizabeth Arden brand ambassador just merged her production company, Pacific Standard, with Peter Chernin at AT&T to form Hello Sunshine, a company formed to tell female-driven stories on TV, film and digital platforms, like podcasts. She’s also starring in the Disney-produced, Ava DuVernay-directed adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time with Oprah Winfrey. Oh, and her online lifestyle retail venture, Draper James, is going 3D, with newly opened storefronts in Dallas and Nashville, where she hosts readings by female authors.

 

FASHION/TASTEMAKERS

 

Victoria Beckham, Fashion Designer/Singer

Victoria Beckham

She first stole our hearts as Posh Spice. Now she's designing clothes we can't wait to wear.

Photo: Andrea Raffin/Shutterstock.com

Children: Brooklyn, 18, Romeo, 14, Cruz, 12, Harper, 5

We have nothing but respect for Victoria: Her passion for fashion and penchant for hard work has transformed this former Spice Girl into an incredibly well-respected fashion designer, with her own successful fashion label that spawned a highly coveted offshoot collection for Target. We love how the collection is inclusive of real women, with sizes up to 24. She also teamed up with Estée Lauder to lend her sensibilities to a makeup line, and recently accepted an OBE, Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, from the Queen of England, in recognition of her fashion brand and work with the Elton John AIDS Foundation and Save the Children. Like the rest of us, she’s not immune from trying to suss out a work-life balance, but this year, British Vogue published a letter that she wrote to her 18-year old self with what she’s learned: “Is it possible to have it all? To be a successful working mother? You will hear this question asked by many women as you grow older. What you will realize is that by working hard, yet always putting family first, it will be possible to achieve that balance. Nothing will be perfect, but it is only now that I have learnt to appreciate all I have and all I have been blessed with. I am happy.” Hey, it’s all any of us can ask for.

Sara Blakely, Founder and CEO, Spanx

Sara Blakely

The Spanx CEO and her family at home.

Photo: Sara Blakely

Children: Lazer, 7, 5-year-old twin boys, a daughter, 1

This self-made billionaire is affixed to our list: She went from door-to-door fax salesperson to mogul by envisioning control-top pantyhose without feet as a viable undergarment, and relentlessly pursuing her dream until it came to fruition. Today, Spanx is far more than just the modern girdle; she sells bras, leggings, underwear, athleisure—even men’s garments—in 44 countries, according to Forbes. Though her net worth is estimated at over $1 billion, Sara gives back every chance she gets. According to a recent article in Variety, The Sara Blakely Foundation has donated an estimated $24 million to women’s causes, supporting a variety of female empowerment organizations, like the Malala Fund and The Empowerment Plan. When asked about work-life balance, she told Variety she credits her husband for being hands-on and admits it’s sometimes hard to turn her biz brain off. “I’m a work in progress—just like any working mother. The thing that I’m working on the most is being present. When you’re a business owner, it’s very hard to shut everything off.” We totally get it, Sara.

Tory Burch, Chairman, CEO and Designer, Tory Burch

Tory Burch

The fashion executive cites motherhood as a key to her success.

Photo: Tory Burch

Children: Nick and Henry, 19, Sawyer, 16

Sometimes a break can lead to breakthroughs: In Marie Claire, this art-history-major-turned-fashion-maven credits the four years she stayed home with her oldest kids as the “best decision” she ever made, because it led to the birth of her eponymous Palm Beach boho brand. After winning numerous design awards, she remains her company’s largest shareholder, which makes her a billionaire—but there are plenty more reasons to admire Tory: In partnership with Bank of America, her charitable arm, the Tory Burch Foundation, has empowered aspiring female entrepreneurs to the tune of $25 million. In honor of International Women’s Day, she recently launched the “Embrace Ambition” campaign, featuring t-shirts modeled by women like Reese Witherspoon and Julianne Moore, encouraging women to reclaim ambition as a positive attribute. As she told InStyle, “There's a negative connotation to ambitious women, and I think that we should be able to be proud of being ambitious and not shy away from that.” Preach it, sister.

*Carolyn Rafaelian, Founder, CEO and Chief Creative Officer, Alex and Ani, Owner, Sakonnet Vineyards

Carolyn Rafaelian

The jewelry executive is also a noted philanthropist.

Photo: Alex and Ani

Children: Alex, 25, Ani, 24, and Alivia, 18

A new addition to Forbes’s Richest Self-Made Women's list, Carolyn was dubbed leader of the jewelry world with an estimated net worth of $700 million. She was born into the jewelry business, but, initially, working in her parent’s Rhode Island factory served as punishment. She told DuJour that her Armenian-American parents would send her and her four siblings to “card earrings” when they fell out of line. Eventually, she started designing special talismans for friends, adorned with symbols and saints that offered spiritual protection. Those took off and Alex and Ani was born in 2004—so named for her two oldest daughters. Carolyn gives back through her Charity by Design division, donating a portion of the proceeds from specially designed charms to more than 50 nonprofits, including March of Dimes, Living Water International and VH-1 Save the Music. Last year, they donated $2 million to UNICEF. When she started the company, she told DuJour she was honest with her then-young kids about what her life as a working woman was like. “Let’s not forget, we are a strong species,” she said. “I think men have their challenges now, women have their challenges now, but it’s only a challenge if you want it to be a challenge. My father did not treat any of us differently, my brother or his girls. We did what we needed to do, we were all treated the same, and we made what we made out of life.” Just look where it’s taken her!

 

FINANCE/BUSINESS

 

*Cathy Bessant, Chief Operations and Technology Officer, Bank of America

Cathy Bessant

This powerful mom is one of the biggest names in banking.

Photo: David Hume Kennerly/Bank of America

Children: Meredith, 20, Hayden, 16

This working mom of two—and breast cancer survivor—leads one of the largest tech organizations in the world, managing a $16 billion budget and more than 100,000 employees and contractors globally—more than the workforces of Google, Facebook and Salesforce combined. The University of Michigan graduate once said, “I always knew I wanted to be someone’s mother. I did want to be an astronaut. I never knew I wanted to be a banker.” Yet, she’s now ranked ranked No. 1 in the Institutional Investor Tech 50 list and No. 3 on American Banker’s Most Powerful Women in Banking list. To be a successful working mom, Cathy’s advice is to “craft yourself a village.” She says, “Know what helps you, what makes things more complicated, where you’re comfortable with other people stepping in. Then own your choices, and trust your family, your company and your village to support you and help make it all work.”

Cathy Engelbert, CEO, Deloitte

Cathy Engelbert

This CEO isn't just successful—she's loved by her employees, too.

Photo: Deloitte

Children: Julia, 19, Tommy, 16

Cathy isn’t just the first female CEO of the largest professional services firm in our country; she’s also an unwavering champion of work-life balance, which is why Deloitte is a longtime Working Mother Best Company. What’s more, we aren’t the only organization that celebrates Cathy’s myriad of achievements: She’s one of Fortune’s Most Powerful Women of 2016, she’s earned a Glassdoor annual Employees’ Choice Award as one of the 50 Highest Rated CEOs, and she’s one of Fast Company’s Most Productive People of 2016. Mostly, we loudly applaud her dedication to creating a corporate culture that fosters work-life balance. After all, she didn’t have it so easy herself—she only got six weeks of maternity leave. Last year, Deloitte announced they’ll allow workers (male and female) to take up to 16 fully paid weeks off to care for a family member. Cathy recently told Fortune, “I always say programs are great, but first we have to give men and women, especially new fathers and new mothers, opportunities to take advantage of the programs and still not hurt their career. So, for me, it’s about having different levels of flexibility, predictability.”

Mary Callahan Erdoes, CEO Asset Management, JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Mary Callahan Erdoes

This executive also helps women rise through the ranks at her company.

Photo: J.P. Morgan

Children: Mia, 14, Morgan, 12, Mason, 10

Mary has been one of the most powerful players on Wall Street for years—it’s her fourth year topping American Banker’s Most Powerful Women in Finance list, and she’s also one of Forbes’s Most Powerful Women in the World. Last year was record-setting for JPMorgan Chase, as revenues rose 20% to $8.4 billion and profits nearly doubled to $3.4 billion. Raking-in-the-dough aside, Mary gives back: Her Women on the Move initiative supports women at all levels in the company who want to rise through the ranks. So what’s her best career advice? When asked this question by CNBC, she recommended becoming a subject matter expert. “Know more than anybody else will know on that topic. Obsess about it. Once you do that, whoever you’re working for, whether it’s a team or whether it’s a boss, they will give you other opportunities to expand, to take on other challenges, to learn other things. They will give you more responsibilities because they see that you really can be a subject matter expert in something.” After all—she would know!

*Dawn Fitzpatrick, Chief Investment Officer, Soros Fund Management

Dawn Fitzpatrick

This mom is responsible for managing billions of dollars.

Photo: UBS Asset Management

Children: John, 13, Claire, 12, Nora, 8

This finance whiz just scored a huge new job. As Chief Investment Officer of Soros Fund Management, Dawn is now in charge of $26 billion of George Soros’s personal and family wealth—he’s considered the most famous investor of the finance world. No wonder—Dawn always had a knack for numbers. The Wharton grad got a job with O’Connor & Associates as part of a junior group of American Stock Exchange clerks. The Chicago firm was later acquired by UBS as the Swiss bank’s internal hedge fund, and eventually she became chief investment officer at UBS, navigating Wall Street when it was completely unstable. Accustomed to bobbing and weaving through the cutthroat world of finance, Dawn once jumped on a business flight to London—wearing several layers of Spanx—just a few days after the birth of her second kid. On the whole, however, she believes being a woman has helped her work her way to the top. “One of the things I believe women have more of is humility in their investments,” she said in an interview with The New York Times. “We’ll cut losers quicker, in a more effective way, than generally men will.” 

Adena Friedman, President and CEO, NASDAQ

Adena Friedman

The recently promoted CEO is the first woman to run a major U.S. exchange.

Photo: Nasdaq

Children: Two

Adena scores a hat trick with three years on our list, gaining power and prestige with every 365 days. Her recent promotion to CEO (from COO) makes her the first woman to run a major U.S. exchange, and one of Fortune’s Most Powerful Women. In an interview with them, she recalls how she began at NASDAQ as an intern in 1993, walking into what she calls an “undefined” job, which she thinks served her well. “If you can find a way to have a job that isn’t that well defined, that is working for a department head, that gives you exposure into various aspects of a department or a business, that’s the best way into a company,” she said. Following a brief sojourn to the The Carlyle Group in 2011, she returned to NASDAQ in 2015 as president. In the same interview, she said she’d like to see more women in finance and tech. “I would love in 20 years to see that there is at least 40%—it would be great if it was 50%—women across the spectrum of an organization, so that young people can automatically see that career path for themselves; they can see people they can relate to; they can look up and realize there’s opportunity ahead of them, and they don’t see it as unattainable." She’s proof positive it can happen.

*Mellody Hobson, President, Ariel Investments

Mellody Hobson

This mom manages billions while also serving on the boards of multiple foundations and organizations.

Photo: Kathy Hutchins/Shutterstock.com

Children: Everest, 3

Mellody’s rise through the corporate ranks is an utterly inspirational tale of hard work, business savvy and determination. According to a glowing profile in Vanity Fair, Hobson was born and raised in Chicago, a stellar student who opted for Princeton over Harvard thanks to her recruiter, John Rogers, who became founder and CEO of Ariel Investments. She went on to intern at Ariel and returned after graduation to learn about money—and learn she did. Today, she’s president, overseeing more than $11 billion in funds, and serves on the board for Ariel Investment Trust, The Estée Lauder Companies and Starbucks. She’s an impassioned advocate for community outreach as chairman of After School Matters, a Chicago-teen afterschool programming initiative. Oh, and she also serves on the board of The Chicago Public Education Fund, George Lucas Education Foundation (she’s married to the George Lucas), Lucas Museum of Narrative Art and the Sundance Institute. This year, she continued to make history as the first African-American woman to chair the Economic Club of Chicago, a prestigious, invite-only club for Chicago’s business elites.

Abigail Johnson, Chairman, Fidelity Investments

Abigail Johnson

Abigail Johnson oversees a trillion-dollar operation.

Photo: Fidelity Investments

Children: Two

Heir apparent to the Fidelity Investment empire, Abigail ascended to the role of Chairman after her father stepped down last December—her grandfather founded the firm in 1946. But nepotism this is not: Abigail has been at Fidelity for 29 years, working her way up the ranks and tucking a Harvard MBA into her back pocket. The Boston Globe reports Fidelity reported a record profit of $3.5 billion for 2016—and it wasn’t a good year for mutual funds. As the largest U.S. online brokerage firm, with 17.9 million accounts and $1.7 trillion in client assets, Johnston owns a huge stake in the family company, and was ranked the most powerful woman in the financial world with a 2016 estimated net worth of over $15 billion, according to Forbes. Although Abigail keeps a notoriously low profile and does very little press, we had to give a nod to this investing icon. We see you Abigail!

*Jennifer Morgan, President, SAP North America

Jen Morgan

Jennifer Morgan has led her company to soaring results.

Photo: Tessa Marie Images/SAP

Children: Ned, 15, Eric, 12

Talk about bringing the cloud down to earth! As president of SAP North America, Jennifer oversees about $7 billion in revenue and more than 20,000 employees, responsible for driving SAP’s transformation and growth of the cloud in the region. Recently named to the Board of Directors of BNY Mellon, one of the largest financial services organizations in the world, Jennifer is all about diversity, inclusion and equality—and walks the walk. According to Forbes, SAP became the first tech company in the country to receive the Economic Dividends for Gender Equality (EDGE) certificate—a recognition launched at the World Economic Forum and known as the leading global measurement of gender equality in the workplace. Jennifer told us her secret to achieving a work-life balance is to go with the flow. “Every mom knows that achieving a perfect balance is difficult and often fleeting. Every family is different, but I think the best kind of balance comes when you make conscious, deliberate choices with your family, accept the inevitable stretches of imperfection and imbalance, and embrace and be present in the moments you have with those you care about. It's the moments that matter!”

Julie Sweet, CEO, Accenture North America

Julie Sweet

This CEO won the 2016 NAFE Woman of Achievement award.

Photo: Accenture

Children: Chloe, 9, Abby, 8

When it comes to gender parity and support for working parents, Julie makes our list again for putting her money where her mouth is. Day to day, she leads the professional services company’s business, generating nearly $16 billion in revenues last fiscal year, earning the 2016 NAFE Woman of Achievement award. The working mom (and breast cancer survivor) first joined Accenture in 2010 as general counsel, secretary and chief compliance officer after 17 years at law firm Cravath, Swain & Moore. Due to her leadership, Accenture now offers an inclusive work environment, allowing employees returning from parental leave to work locally and 40 hours of subsidized back-up care (for children and elders). It’s also the first big consultancy to offer gender and ethnicity transparency by publishing the demographics of its North American workforce. According to an interview with her on the Fortune Unfiltered podcast, she also plans to launch a program that rewards employees who refer women, African-Americans, Hispanics and Veterans. Success is Sweet, indeed.

 

HEALTH/SCIENCE/TECH

 

*Kathryn Finney, Founder, Managing Director, digitalundivided, Author

Kathryn Finney

Kathryn Finney is helping make the tech world a more diverse place.

Photo: Kathryn Finney

Children: Christian, 1

This brainy tech entrepreneur makes our list for her work in blazing a trail for black and Latina women. As founder and managing director of digitalundivided (DID), she rounds up investments for black and Latina woman tech founders, providing them with the network, coaching and funding to build high-growth companies. She’s also a General Partner in the Harriet Fund, the first pre-seed venture fund that invests in high-potential black and Latina women-led startups, and is co-founder of the Harriet Angels Syndicate, a group of angel investors focused on providing initial investments to black and Latina women business-owners. Yale-trained in epidemiology, Kathryn leveraged her love of data to forge her pioneering research, Project Diane, which got tons of press for quantifying the state of black women in the tech entrepreneurship space. In 2013, she was recognized by the White House as a Champion of Change, and she’s a 2016 Eisenhower fellow, an honor given to exceptional young global leaders. It’s easy to see why.

*Jennifer Fonstad, Partner, Aspect Ventures/Entrepreneur

Jennifer Fonstad

This venture capitalist is becoming one of the biggest names in Silicon Valley.

Photo: Aspect Ventures

Children: 18, 16, and 12-year old twins.

Venture capital was largely considered a man’s world—until this working mom came along! Along with partner, MPWM Theresia Gouw Ranzetta, her company, Aspect Ventures, is one of the few women-led venture capital firms in Silicon Valley. Last year, she was named “Venture Capitalist of the Year” at the Deloitte Technology 2016 Fast 500, marking the first time a woman won the award. Jennifer had the vision to invest in now popular brands, such as BirchBox, UrbanSitter and TheRealReal. Prior to Aspect, Jennifer was Managing Director with Draper Fisher Jurvetson, helping to take them from $150 million under management to more than $3.5 billion, before she left to form Aspect. She’s made the Forbes Midas List twice, and, according to the Silicon Valley Business Journal, has also “taught in Kenya, trekked after wild gorillas in Africa and now serves as chairperson of the Somaly Mam Foundation, which focuses on ending sex slavery of underage girls around the world.” Her myriad of accomplishments are major #workmomgoals, for sure.

*Kirsten Green, Founder, Forerunner Ventures

Kirsten Green

Kirsten Green credits her children for making her better at managing her workload.

Photo: Forerunner Ventures

Children: Rhys, 7, Eva, 3

Kirsten’s success in venture capitalism stems from her deep knowledge of retail: She graduated from UCLA with a business economics degree and audited big box stores, like Gymboree and Safeway, for Deloitte. After working as a retail stock analyst at Montgomery Securities, she took note of how e-commerce businesses like Amazon did when they went public. Launching Forerunner in 2003, she made wise investments early on in companies like bulk online retailer Jet (purchased by Walmart for $3.3 billion) and the Dollar Shave Club (purchased by Unilever for $1 billion). She also counts the hugely successful, millennial make-up brand Glossier among her visionary investments and serves on the boards of brands like men’s clothing giant Bonobos, and Glossier. How does she manage to juggle it all? In an interview, she told lifestyle blogger Garance Doré the time she spends with her kids taught her how to focus on the present moment. She said, “It sounds so cheesy and cliché, but the thing is when you have so many demands on your time, the only way to survive it with some level of enjoyment is to be focused and present when you are doing one thing or another and being all there. Try and put your cell phone away and really pay attention to your kids for that hour-and-a-half because that’s not very much time!” Sounds like solid advice to us.

*Mona Hanna-Attisha, Director, Hurley Children’s Hospital’s pediatric residency program and Hurley-Michigan State University Pediatric Public Health Initiative

Mona Hanna-Attisha

Mona Hanna-Attisha stood up for her community and brought Flint's lead poisoning to light.

Photo: Kurt Stepnitz

Children: Nina, 10, Layla, 8

Courage, thy name is Mona: A first-generation Iraqi immigrant and pediatrician in Flint, MI, Mona blew the whistle about the alarming lead contamination in the city’s water supply, and kept blowing it until someone actually heard. She was having dinner with a friend, a water expert who’d worked for the Environmental Protection Agency, when said friend let her know about the possibility of lead in the Flint water supply. According to CNN, she said, "When pediatricians hear anything about lead, we absolutely freak out. Lead is a potent known neurotoxin. The CDC, the AAP, everybody tells us that there is no safe level of lead," she says, referring to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). In a piece she penned for The New York Times, she recalled how state officials accused her of “creating hysteria,” but still, she persisted. We’re thankful that Mona is still in the trenches, helping to “reduce the harm stemming from exposure to lead with a model public health program of family support, home visits, early education, school health services, nutrition, health care access and more.”

*Katharine Hayhoe, Professor and Director, Climate Science Center, Texas Tech University, Founder and CEO of ATMOS Research

Katharine Hayhoe

This climate scientist is leading the charge against global warming.

Photo: Ashley Rodgers

Children: One

The scientific evidence that exists about how climate change is affecting our planet is simply alarming. That’s what makes the Canadian-born Katharine so compelling—she’s a Texas Evangelical Christian climate scientist who is here to say she’s seen the data, and it’s urgent we believe the hype and take action. As founder and CEO of ATMOS Research, she provides information on how climate change affects various organizations' infrastructure, and leads climate impact assessments for cities like Chicago and California. Her research is widely referenced and published in key reports, and her findings have come before Congress. Dubbed by Fortune as one of the world’s greatest leaders, her PBS web series “Global Weirding,” breaks down climate impact. Yet, even superstar scientists struggle with the same stuff all moms who travel for work do. In a post on a Christian fellowship blog, she describes how the complications of traveling with a breast pump led her to start bringing her infant son to science conferences. “I have a vague memory of screaming something along the lines of, ‘I squeezed every single ounce from my body! And you are not going to take it!’ in the TSA line. It was ridiculous. So after that I just said, I'm taking him with me, I don't know how it's going to work, but that's what we're going to do.” Sometimes, a working mother has to take a stand.

Ann Miura-Ko,Co-Founder, Floodgate, Lecturer, School of Engineering, Stanford University

Ann Miura-Ko

Like Lyft? Addicted to Taskrabbit? Thank Ann Miura-Ko.

Photo: Ann Miura-Ko

Children: Three, aged 9, 6 and 4

As co-founding partner of Floodgate, a venture capital company, Ann’s given leg-up money to companies that are now among brands we use every day, like Lyft, Refinery29, ModCloth and Taskrabbit. This working mom of three once wanted to be a doctor—she even took the MCAT—but her love of math and tech led her to Stanford for a Ph.D., having completed studies in math modeling and computer security. There, she met Mike Maples Jr., her current business partner, and the rest is history. In an interview with Medium, she described the challenges—and benefits—of completing her thesis and starting Floodgate all while being a mom to three children. “For people who believe that women juggling a career and kids are a liability, I would posit that there are few people in the world who know how to multitask and ruthlessly prioritize like a mother of young kids. It’s been the key to my success.” Proof positive—as if we needed it—that motherhood begets championship multitasking skills.

*Rebecca Richards-Kortum, Bioengineering Professor, Rice University

Rebecca Richards-Kortum

Rebecca Richards-Kortum's work is responsible for saving lives around the world.

Photo: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Children: Alex, 25, Max, 23, Zach, 20, Kate, 15, Elizabeth, 11, Margaret, 7

New to our list this year, Rebecca is what Fortune called a “health pioneer and bioengineering prodigy” who develops affordable medical technology that detects cancer and infectious disease. She actually invented a way to diagnose oral, esophageal and cervical cancers without the need for invasive biopsies, working with hospitals, community groups, and rural practitioners in poor communities such as Malawi, Rwanda and El Salvador. The 2016 MacArthur Fellow co-founded Beyond Traditional Borders (BTB), a curriculum that teaches undergrads how to translate what they learn in class into solutions for global health problems. Among her student’s inventions: an LED-based phototherapy light for treating jaundice in newborns that can be made for less than $100, an airway pressure machine that helps premature infants who can’t breathe on their own and a syringe pump that delivers precise amounts of IV fluid. As a mom of six (two of her younger daughters were adopted from Ethiopia), she told Houston CityBook that parenthood inspires her continuous quest to improve neonatal and maternal health. “Every parent worries so much about her children’s future,” she said. “I’m fortunate that when I was pregnant I didn’t have to worry that I might die in childbirth, and that’s not true for a lot of women today. And I’m fortunate that none of my babies were born early. But I have two daughters that are adopted from Ethiopia, and certainly the challenges they faced early in their lives are very different than what their day-to-day life experience is now, in Houston. So I think definitely I feel a connection to these projects that is personal as well as professional.”

Gwynne Shotwell, COO, SpaceX, U.S.

Gwynne Shotwell

This mom is responsible for the future of space travel.

Photo: SpaceX

Children: Two

As of late, Gwynne’s been encouraging us to get a jump on our tickets to Mars. At the helm of SpaceX, she’s in the business of sending rockets into space—even meeting with the FCC to make sure we have WiFi when we get there. She’s also been in the news for explaining how rockets should be reflown, like airplanes. This powerful working mother would love to see more women in the space of … space, sharing a quote from former U.S. representative Bella Abzug at a recent Space Symposium, according to Satellite Today: “Our struggle today is not to have a female Einstein get appointed as an assistant professor. It is for a woman schlemiel to get as quickly promoted as a male schlemiel.” When interviewed by Makers, she described how she conspired to get her daughter interested in her industry. “My daughter said she probably wanted to be a lawyer so I hazed her—I brought her in as an intern at SpaceX as an intern in the legal department,” she said. “I didn’t pay her, of course. She left that summer saying, ‘You know, I think I’ll be an engineer, Mommy.’ It was totally subversive—it was the plan from the get-go. You can’t tell a teenaged girl she’s going to go do something. You just have to show her the way.” We’re glad Gwynne is showing the way for girls everywhere.

Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook/Author/Advocate

Sheryl Sandberg

Publishing a book and leading a movement: Just an average year for the COO of Facebook.

Photo: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

Children: Two, aged 8 and 6

How many people can actually say they’ve started a movement? Sheryl is COO of Facebook—and that’s certainly a big deal—but by adding “Lean In” to our lexicon, she’s made great strides in advocacy for working families and gender parity. Within her job at Facebook, she recently made headlines for instituting a 20-day paid bereavement leave—a benefit inspired by the loss of her beloved husband Dave a few years ago. In fact, she just published Option B (co-written with Wharton professor Adam Grant), about coping with loss. According to Forbes, her latest endeavor, #20PercentCounts, launched on Equal Pay Day, inspired hundreds of American companies to offer women 20% discounts to draw attention to wage disparity. In an article she penned for USA Today, Sheryl explains in plain detail how the pay gap is detrimental to working families across the country, and calls upon corporations to close the gap by conducting pay audits broken down gender and race to ensure fair hiring and promotions. “It’s just plain wrong that so many women are working hard every day for less money,” she said. “It says we think women are less valuable, less capable, less deserving—notions that go against Americans’ basic values of fairness and equality. Equal pay is about women’s worth in our economy and society. There’s nothing more fundamental than that.” Can we get an amen?

 

MEDIA/MARKETING/ADVERTISING

 

*Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Novelist, Essayist

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The new mother and novelist is one of the world's leading feminist voices.

Photo: Chris Boland/www.christopherinessex.co.uk

Children: One, 1

Earning a spot on Fortune’s World’s Greatest Leaders list, Chimamanda also makes our list for dominating the literary world with work that challenges readers to deeply consider issues surrounding identity, race and gender. Born in Nigeria, her strident feminism seeps through every word she writes. Her book, Americanah, was one of The New York Times Ten Best Books of the Year, also earning other prestigious literary awards, like the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize for Fiction. Her TED Talks inspire the likes of fellow mom Beyoncé, who sampled one. An esteemed MacArthur Fellow, her latest “manifesto,” Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions, is the answer to a friend who asked her how to raise her baby daughter as a feminist. According to the National Post, with respect to parenting and work, she wrote, “Be a full person. Your child will benefit from that. You don’t even have to love your job; you can merely love what your job does for you—the confidence and self-fulfillment that come with doing and earning. Reject the idea of motherhood and work as mutually exclusive.”

*J.K. Rowling, Author, Philanthropist

J.K. Rowling

We can thank this talented mom for far more than a beloved boy wizard.

Photo: Debra Hurford Brown ©J.K. Rowling

Children: Jessica, 24, David, 13, Mackenzie, 11

J.K.’s story is one for the books: A hard-working woman dreams of being a writer. Has a eureka moment on a train to London and keeps copious notes for a few years. Moves to Portugal, gets married and has a daughter. Divorces husband, moves back to Scotland with first three chapters of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. The book gets published and sells like crazy. There’s another novel, and another. International success and world domination ensue to the point of a series of hit movies, plays and even an amusement park. The first feature film she wrote, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, was a tremendous box office hit. Last year, J.K. won the PEN/Allen Foundation Literary Service Award for how her work embodies the principles of free expression, and for her support of various causes including Multiple Sclerosis research, social exclusion and the fight against censorship. Even with all her tremendous success, J.K. still keeps it real. She recently wrote a series of tweets to a would-be author, encouraging her to finish her work. "Even if it isn't the piece of work that finds an audience, it will teach you things you could have learned no other way.”

Lorraine Twohill, SVP of Global Marketing, Google

Lorraine Twohill

Lorraine Twohill is behind some of Google's genius marketing ideas.

Photo: Google

Children: Two

As CMO of Google, Lorraine Twohill’s savvy is palpable with every search. The Irish-born working mom was recently named Most Innovative CMO by Business Insider for a unique, interactive approach to branding that invites users to contribute their ideas. Describing her brand as “knowledge,” she told McKinsey & Company marketers can’t be taught the kind of “innate gut instinct, brilliant, creative judgment” she demands of her team. It shows in their hilarious campaigns: the Google Gnome, their answer to Amazon’s Alexa, made for a spot-on April Fool's Day joke. She launched the #Doodle4Google contest, allowing children to come up with designs for the homepage. She also promotes how Google gives back: Google.org aims to close the education gap by donating $50 million over the next two years to non-profits with tech-based learning solutions. We can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

Susan Wojcicki, CEO, YouTube

Susan Wojcicki

She wants to see more women in tech. We agree!

Photo: Google

Children: Five

YouTube is a behemoth, responsible for entertaining (literally) billions of people. Susan, YouTube’s CEO, saw the potential for this media platform from the get-go, and was instrumental in Google’s purchase of the channel back in 2006. Speaking of Google, she launched it by renting out her garage to the guys who invented it. Among what’s hot in her world for now: she just launched YouTube TV, a streaming bundle service that offers over 40 live broadcast and cable channels, plus YouTube Red original content, with unlimited cloud DVR storage for a fixed fee. She’s also a tireless advocate for women in the workplace. Very recently, she penned an essay for Vanity Fair called “How to Break Up the Silicon Alley Boy’s Club” that provides a simple solution—hire more women—and details how this sea change needs to start at the top. “First, tech CEOs need to make gender diversity a personal priority,” she wrote. “Human Resources departments and diversity leaders play a critical role, but they need the commitment and attention of the CEO to succeed. Improving diversity, like any priority, requires dedicated resources, clear goals, comprehensive analytics and company wide transparency.” She should know—YouTube has increased their female workforce to 30% since she’s been at the helm.

 

POLITICS

 

Chelsea Clinton, Vice-Chair, Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation

Chelsea Clinton

The former first daughter has played a huge role in her family's foundation.

Photos: Jake Chessum

Children: Charlotte, 2, Aidan, 11 months

The heir apparent to the Clinton legacy spent much of last year touring nonstop to support her presidential candidate mother, while becoming a mother herself for the second time. That’s on top of serving as the vice-chair of the Clinton Foundation, where she’s built a career in service of the people, focused on women’s, children’s and environmental causes around the globe. (A couple recent initiatives just announced at their Health Matters Activation Summit include funding a new program at Harvard Medical School to combat opioid addiction and sponsoring the Women’s Health Codeathon, an event where female developers and designers build original apps around the theme of women’s nutrition.) Chelsea recently went on the record to deny she’ll run for president in 2020, but in her first post-election interview, told Refinery29 that those of us who feel frustration with the way things are going should stay engaged and do what we can to make a difference. “Use those emotions to engage and organize and advocate to protect and advance what you think matters most,” she said, “whether that’s combating climate change, or protecting women’s rights, fighting against gun violence, or advocating for LGBTQ equality.”

*Tammy Duckworth, U.S. Senator, Illinois

Tammy Duckworth

Senator Duckworth is a fierce competitor.

Photo: Cafebeanz Company | Dreamstime.com

Children: Abigail, 2

You can’t help but admire and respect the formidable Tammy Duckworth—a senator and Iraq War vet with a Purple Heart. She served in the Reserve Forces for 23 years, becoming one of the first female Black Hawk helicopter pilots to fly combat missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom. She lost both of her legs (and partial use of an arm) when the helicopter she was flying was hit by a grenade. After her recovery, she represented Illinois’s Eighth Congressional District in the House of Representatives for two terms, and was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2016. President Obama made her Assistant Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, where she pulled together a joint initiative with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to end veteran homelessness. She also introduced bills like the Friendly Airports for Mothers Act, to ensure new mothers have access to decent lactation rooms when traveling through airports. A working mother after our own heart.

Kirsten Gillibrand, U.S. Senator, New York

Kirsten Gillibrand

Kirsten Gillibrand has become one of the biggest advocates for working mothers in congress.

Kirsten Gillibrand

Children: Theodore, 13, Henry, 8

Senator Gillibrand suffers no fools—it’s why many hold out hope she’ll run for president in the next election (though she’s ruled it out for now). Her drive to create a better country for working women is well documented, as is her ability to work across the aisle on issues like paid family leave. (Her bill isn’t just for mothers, but for both parents and for those who need to care for the elderly, as well as children). She also champions the Military Justice Improvement Act to protect women in the military from sexual assault, and a bipartisan bill protecting seniors against fraud. Her New York Times best-selling book, Off the Sidelines: Speak Up, Be Fearless and Change Your World was followed up by her Off the Sidelines PAC, a fund designed to raise millions for women running for office. “Just literally having 51 percent of women in Congress representing the diversity of our country: You would have different issues raised, different solutions being offered, you’d have less partisan bickering,” she said in a recent New York magazine cover story.

Nikki Haley, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations; National Security Council

Nikki Haley

Nikki Haley has gone from governor to United Nations ambassador.

Photo: Nikki Haley

Children: Rena, 18, Nalin, 15

One of the first women of color to ever head a state when she became governor of South Carolina in 2010, this year Nikki became the U.S. Ambassador to the UN. Born Nimrata "Nikki" Randhawa to Sikh immigrants from India who settled in South Carolina, she once told Vogue Hillary Clinton inspired her to pursue a career in government—and pursue, she did. She earned a seat in the House of Representatives from 2005 to 2010, before becoming governor. Last year, she demanded removal of the Confederate Flag over the state house after nine people were tragically shot to death in a historic black church in Charleston. When Greta Van Susteren asked her at this year’s Women of the World summit if she liked her new job, Nikki replied, “I like the job because you can actually move the ball. You can actually change things.” It’s a big job, yet in true working mom fashion, according to The New York Times, she still makes it home for dinner most days.

*Dina Powell, U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategy 

Dina Powell

Dina Powell is now a powerful voice in the White House.

Photo: Goldman Sachs

Children: 2 daughters, 14 and 11

This working mom was recently promoted from a position advising Ivanka Trump on women’s issues to a pivotal role in the White House as an adviser to the president on economic initiatives and the Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategy. Her journey to the White House is fascinating: Born in Cairo, Egypt, Dina’s parents emigrated to Texas when she was just 4-years-old. She graduated from Ursuline Academy then attended the University of Texas at Austin, earning an internship with a Republican senator. She worked her way up to a position alongside the White House domestic policy adviser, and eventually became the deputy undersecretary of public affairs and public diplomacy in 2005. She left the State Department for an opportunity at Goldman Sachs, leading their Impact Investing business, the Environmental Markets Group and spearheading the 10,000 Women and 10,000 Small Businesses initiatives, providing business management education and capital to women. In fact, her work helping female entrepreneurs is exactly what caught the eye of Ivanka Trump, who cold-called Dina following the election to discuss the program—and the rest is history.  

Ivanka Trump, Assistant to the President

Ivanka Trump

The first daughter is pushing for paid family leave and affordable childcare.

Photo: ABC/Ida Mae Astute

Children: Arabella, 5, Joseph, 2, Theodore, 1

This Wharton grad is a far cry from your average working mom—her dad is President of the United States. In her new role as Assistant to the President, she reportedly acts as his “eyes and ears”—and her eyes are clearly trained on lightening the load for working moms. During the campaign, she pushed her father to tout paid maternity leave, making 2016 the first time both major party candidates included the issue in their platform. She’s also a big force behind the administration’s push for a tax credit to help defray the costs of childcare for working families. In fact, helping her fellow working women has become a big mission for the first daughter: She’s created an online community for working women, the aptly titled Women Who Work, and penned a just-released book by the same name, Women Who Work: Rewriting the Rules for Success. “I’m incredibly proud to play a small role in debunking this caricature of what a working woman looks like, in creating content that’s actionable, that’s tip-oriented for this young working woman that encourages her to architect a life that she wants to live,” she said at the Fortune Most Powerful Woman summit.

 

RETAIL

 

Angela Ahrendts, Senior Vice President of Retail and Online Stores, Apple

Angela Ahrendts

The executive says her children inspired her plans for Apple stores.

Photo: Apple

Children: Jennings, 21, Sommer, 20, Angelina, 16

As head of all Apple retail ventures, Angela is Apple’s highest paid executive, earning $25.8 million in 2015, according to Apple Insider. She earns it by running the ubiquitous tech brand’s global retail experience—their 2016 fiscal fourth quarter alone grew 24% to a quarterly record of $6.3 billion. The former CEO of Burberry has spent the last few years adjusting the Apple store experience—no mean feat considering there are nearly 500 stores worldwide with sales that add up to almost $42 billion in yearly revenue, according to Fortune. She’s done this by repositioning the stores as what she calls “town squares,” or gathering places where users and experts converge to share their expertise with the technology. Proving that mom knowledge is invaluable, she said at Fortune’s Most Powerful Woman Summit the idea was inspired by her kids: “Having three teens, you go to Washington Square Park in New York, or Covent Garden, or Union Square, and on the weekends you’ll see an artist over here sketching something, or playing a guy playing guitar over there, and kids love that, right? It’s a human experience because they’re so used to living in their digital worlds. So our whole concept was, how does the store become more like a town square?”

Helena Foulkes, President, CVS/Pharmacy and EVP, CVS Health

Helena Foulkes

The pharmacy chain banned tobacco products at the behest of this inspiring mom.

Photo: CVS Health

Children: Four

Try beating this retail resume: President of CVS Pharmacy, CVS Extra, EVP at CVS Health, and board member for Home Depot, Dana Farber Cancer Institute and the Wheeler School. As President of CVS since January 2014, Helena oversees every aspect of the retail business, which, last year, grew exponentially with the acquisition of 1,672 pharmacies and 79 clinics in Target stores, according to a Target press release. A few years back, the Harvard MBA, cancer survivor and marathoner was also instrumental in the decision to ban tobacco sales and to move all healthier food options to the front of the store. Reportedly courted by Uber to be its next CEO, Helena told Shared Value Initiative that CVS Health’s strategy isn’t about driving revenue or filling as many scripts as possible; it’s to “reinvent pharmacy to extend the front lines of care.” From the looks of things, she’s well on her way to meeting her objective.

*Adi Tatarko, Co-Founder, CEO, Houzz

Adi Tatarko

There's home design inspo aplenty on Houzz, thanks to Adi.

Houzz

Children: Three, aged 14, 11 and 3

Sometimes, what inspires success is a personal need. Houzz, Adi’s company, is one of those stories. When Adi and her husband, Alon Cohen, wanted to remodel their new home, she was working as a financial advisor while taking care of the couple’s two older children. They found the search for inspiration cumbersome, as they were forced to bounce from site to site to get their needs met. So together, they built Houzz, an online home design community and retail outlet that’s now a huge hit. What’s more, Adi is now worth $300 million, according to Forbes and Houzz has gone global, with a valuation of over $2 billion and 40 million monthly users across the world. A few years back, in an interview with the Huffington Post, Adi relayed how she’s refused to downplay parenthood in her business dealings. “It’s OK to tell investors and partners and people you work with that this is why you’re not going to be there. I think that people are sometimes trying to hide or make excuses. I would feel bad doing that. I am who I am. I’m a mom. The kids are the most important people on earth for me. I’m proud of that. The fact that I’m a mom makes me better for these investors and partners and other people I work with.” We wholeheartedly agree!

Latest


More


Career