We at Working Mother have been naming the Most Powerful Moms all year—from entrepreneurs to fashion mavens to CEOs—and have compiled a list of women whose accomplishments also include societal contributions. To cap off 2011, we selected the most powerful among the women we’ve highlighted this year.
See the complete list of the Most Powerful Moms of 2011 here
Last year, we selected Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, as 2010’s Most Powerful Mom of the Year, for her key role in changing the way we consume media. This year, we decided to use crowd sourcing to decide which mom had the most impact.
Adding up your picks via Twitter, Facebook and the comments section on workingmother.com, we have a tie: show biz powerhouse Tina Fey and philanthropist Melinda Gates share the Most Powerful Mom of 2011 spotlight! While their contributions couldn’t be more different, both of their influences are broadly felt.
Tina Fey, one of our Most Powerful Moms in Pop Culture, had us laughing all year long—a welcome relief in turbulent economic and political times. She continued to star in, write and produce NBC’s 30 Rock, the series she created in 2006. Her book, Bossypants, came out this year and was a runaway hit, full of anecdotes about being a working mom and the questions she is often asked. And she did all of this while pregnant with her second daughter, who was born in August. Many of us were introduced to Fey during her Saturday Night Live years where she was also head writer, the jumping off point for 30 Rock, and watched her portray Republican presidential candidate Sarah Palin in the last campaign cycle. She has a huge platform with her high visibility and cross-media involvement.
Melinda Gates, mom of three and one of our Most Powerful Moms in Nonprofits, is literally changing the world. As co-chair of The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Gates oversaw more than $3 billion in grant payments this year to organizations that support global health and education. She, along with husband Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, also began “The Giving Pledge” in 2010, urging billionaires to give away half of their net worth. And in 2011, she was the driving force behind the new Gates Foundation headquarters complex in Seattle. At the opening in June, Gates said she wants the foundation to “feel more transparent” and for the Seattle community to have the opportunity to become more engaged. She is said to be a daily presence at the foundation, and goes on several fact-finding missions overseas each year. To help keep her kids grounded, when she returns from a trip she shows them a slideshow of the places and the people she saw.
Gates shared this message about moms and the work life juggle with Yahoo! this year: "We're lucky to have that challenge, that we're trying to balance [work and family]. When I travel to the developing world and I meet moms, they'd like to be able to be working and bring some income in for their families, and they don't have that opportunity. So I always try to frame it for myself in that way."