Eve, Cleopatra, Delilah, Helen of Troy, Margaret Thatcher, Indira Gandhi, Corazon Aquino, Angela Merkel…from the beginning of time, women have always played a key and influential role in history. They can be icons, or they may be working on some noble project, or they may have shown the wherewithal on becoming rich and successful. Regardless of how they do it, these are the top ten most influential women in America today.
1. Cami Anderson
Cami Anderson is known for her revolutionary and visionary approach in the field of education. She served as superintendent of District 79, running the Alternative High Schools and Programs of New York City’s Department of Education. She launched wild scale and bold changes to the program, declaring that regardless of personal obstacles ranging from parenthood, lack of finances, jail time, immigration issues, drug addiction or flunkies, anyone and everyone could be nurtured and would be educated enough to get a high school diploma. It paid off almost immediately, with student achievement numbers and graduation rates vastly improving. She was once a National Teacher of the Year awardee, and she continues to push for programs that would improve literacy levels.
2. Sara Blakely
Sara Blakely is the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire. She graduated with a communications degree from Florida State University and worked part time at Walt Disney World. In 2000, she established Spanx, an undergarment company now worth millions of dollars.
3. Sarah Burton
Sarah Burton is the creative director of the Alexander McQueen fashion brand and the Designer of the Year in the 2011 British Fashion Awards. She is, however, more known as the woman behind the design of the wedding dress worn by Catherine Middleton during the 2011 royal wedding. They were subsequently appointed as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in honor of her services to the fashion industry in the United Kingdom.
4. Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton first garnered attention in 1969 when she served as the first student commencement speaker in Wellesley College. She got her law degree from Yale Law School in 1973. She then married Bill Clinton, who became the 42nd President of the United States, serving from 1993 to 2001. Hillary probably learned more than a thing or two during their family’s eight-year stay at the White House that she decided to run for the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party in 2008. She failed in her bid, however, losing out to eventual president Barack Obama. Her intelligence and diplomacy did not go unnoticed, as President Obama appointed Hillary as the 67th Secretary of the State Department of the United States.
5. Chelsea Handler
Chelsea Handler is an American actress and comedian who has hosted the talk show Chelsea Lately on E! since 2007. She has also found success as a book author, with four of her works reaching the bestseller list of The New York Times. Of these four, three have gone on to top the list at number one.
6. Cecile Richards
Cecile Richards is an activist and Democratic Party member. She has served as the president of the Planned Parenthood Foundation of America since 2006 and as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Ford Foundation since 2010. She previously served as the deputy chief of staff of Representative Nancy Pelosi, the leader of the Democratic Party in the United States House of Representatives. She also helped establish the Texas Freedom Network, an organization based in Texas that aimed to refute the arguments of the Christian Right. Richards was also the founder and president of an alliance of organizations allied with the Democratic party called America Votes.
7. Virginia Rometty
Virginia Rometty is an American executive who holds the distinction of being the first woman to become the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of International Business Machines, or IBM. Before rising to the top post, Rometty served as a Senior Vice President and Group Executive for Sales, Marketing and Strategy.
8. Sheryl Sandberg
Who has not heard of Facebook? Practically everyone and anyone has an account with the social networking giant. But while we associate it with Mark Zuckerberg, a woman is actually behind the operations of the social networking giant. Sheryl Sandberg is an American technology firm executive who has been the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook since 2008. In the middle of 2012, she garnered another feather on her cap by getting elected as a member of the Board of Directors of Facebook. Even before moving to Facebook, Sandberg had been instrumental in the success of another Internet giant. She served as Vice President in Google, handling the company’s global online sales and operations. While at Google, she also helped in the establishment of its philanthropic arm. Sandberg was also once the chief of staff of the Department of Treasury of the United States.
9. Alice Walton
Alice Walton is the daughter of Sam Walton and heiress to the vast fortune of Walmart Stores, Inc. She has an estimated net worth amounting to almost $21 billion, landing her in the top ten list of the richest Americans, including the distinction of being the second richest American woman. Walton is also into the arts, opening the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Arkansas in 2011. To get the museum started, Walton donated her personal collection amounting to hundreds of millions. She is also a known philanthropist, having donated along with her brothers the amount of $2 billion for a variety of causes.
10. Barbara van Dahlen
Barbara van Dahlen is the founder and President of a national non-profit organization called Give an Hour. The organization aims to give free mental health care to returning soldiers, along with their families and communities. Give an Hour has helped fill up a critical need and address a crucial shortfall in the mental health services of the military. Thousands of mental health professionals have been mobilized to volunteer their services for the counseling of soldiers in need.
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