The New Guard: America's 50 Most Influential Women

The New Guard: America's 50 Most Influential Women

Our 4th-annual list of movers, shakers, and rule breakers.

    Design by Betsy Farrell

    We are in the throes of a revolution. The power paradigm is shifting before our very eyes. Got a sharp voice and a point of view? Your Snapchat account could command as many viewers as a cable-news network. Got a revolutionary idea and some deep-pocketed friends? You could be the genius behind the next SoulCycle or LinkedIn. Got a brilliant concept for a Web series? Whip out that iPhone and start filming, girl.

    Power and influence have been untethered from all the traditional metrics: paychecks, office sizes, fancy titles. Today's power brokers are those who can open the doors to opportunity. They know exactly whom to call for financing, support, and talent. In our fourth-annual New Guard list, Marie Claire salutes the next generation of women leveraging their smarts and all-important contacts to build fortunes, upend industries, and even change the world. Remember the names of this badass collective, these 50 powerhouses. Follow them. Connect with them. Then join them. There's always room for one more.

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    Pipeline Builder: Laura Weidman Powers

    34, Cofounder and CEO, Code2040

    Twitter: @laurawp

    Badass bio: The Stanford biz alum runs a Silicon Valley nonprofit that pairs black and Latino tech talent with jobs at giants like Apple and Google.

    Bragging rights: This summer, she was appointed a senior policy adviser to U.S. Chief Technology Officer (and ex-Google biggie) Megan Smith.


    The Visionaries: Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, & Opal Tometi

    35, 32 & 31, Founders, Black Lives Matter (BLM)

    Twitter: @aliciagarza, @osope, @opalayo

    Badass bios: Established after George Zimmerman was acquitted in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in 2013, BLM has become the most important grassroots social-justice movement in recent history.

    Next big thing: They want to transform the increasingly influential—and controversial—cause into an actual agent of real and lasting change. Keep an eye on these women.

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    The Healer: Kiah Williams

    30, Cofounder, Sirum

    Twitter: @kiahjw

    Badass bio: This former Alliance for a Healthier Generation health-care program manager helped develop Sirum, dubbed the for unused medicine, connecting those who can't afford prescriptions with the estimated $5 billion supply of surplus medicine. Genius.

    Bragging rights: Last year, she won Forbes' Change the World Competition—and a $500,000 prize along with it.

    Boston Strong: Michelle Wu

    31, President, Boston City Council

    Twitter: @wutrain

    Badass bio: The Harvard grad and Elizabeth Warren protégé is the first Asian-American woman to hold the city's second-highest-ranking seat (after the mayor).

    MC predicts: The pro-small-business progressive and paid-parental-leave advocate is a favorite for a national seat. Senator Wu, anyone?

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    Talent Spotter: Jessica Grounds

    35, Cofounder, Running Start

    Twitter: @jessica_grounds

    Badass bio: The cofounder and cochair of Running Start, which trains young women for political-leadership roles, was also director of an early pro–Hillary Clinton super PAC and the president of WUFPAC (Women Under Forty PoliticalAction Committee).

    MC predicts: New year, new office in the Executive Office Building?

    The Messenger: Zerlina Maxwell

    34, Progressive Media Director, Hillary Clinton

    Twitter: @ZerlinaMaxwell

    Badass bio: The prominent writer on race—she accompanied President Barack Obama on Air Force One during his historic visit to Selma, Alabama, last year—was snapped up by Team Hillary for digital outreach.

    Bragging rights: The creator of the viral #RapeCultureIsWhen hashtag appeared onstage with Lady Gaga during the singer's emotional Oscars performance earlier this year.

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    The Loyalist: Marisa McAuliffe

    35, Director of Operation Services, Hillary Clinton

    Twitter: @MarisaMcA

    Social network: The niece of longtime Clinton ally Terry McAuliffe (Virginia governor and past DNC chief) helps run operations for Clinton's sprawling campaign, which employs more than 500 people around the U.S. Career highlights: She cut her teeth on the Democratic convention committee during the 2008 election, and later reported to Anne-Marie Slaughter when she served then–Secretary of State HRC.

    The Point Person: Ashlee Strong

    31, Press Secretary, Speaker Paul Ryan

    Twitter: @AshLeeStrong

    Badass bio: This onetime spokesperson for the Senate Republican Conference logged stints with South Dakota Senator John Thune and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker before joining Team Ryan last year.

    MC predicts: As the media liaison to one of the most powerful men in America, she's clearly a top-round pick for the GOP's White House contender in 2020. (Hey, four years goes by fast.)

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    The Fixer: Katie Walsh

    32, Chief of Staff, Republican National Committee

    Twitter: @KMWalsh_GOP

    Badass bio: Right hand to RNC chair Reince Priebus, she's responsible for making sure prime GOP candidates have the money, data, and resources to defeat Democrats. This year, especially, she's vital.

    Clutch play: Ask her about the plan B she reportedly masterminded in the event Trump's Republican Convention was contested.

    The Supernova: Ayah Bdeir

    33, Founder, littleBits

    Twitter: @ayahbdeir

    Badass bio: A pioneer of the so-called Maker Movement, she's the brain trust behind littleBits—kits of plastic doodads embedded with circuits that snap together—hailed as Lego 2.0, the ultimate toy for tech-savvy Generation Z.

    Bragging rights: Last year, the MIT grad and TED Senior Fellow raised $44 million in funding, for a total of $60 million so far.

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