Woman to Watch in Media: Samantha Irby

Samantha Irby. Photo Courtesy of Los Angeles Times.

Who is she? Samantha McKiver Irby is a comedian, author, and blogger. She runs the blog bitches gotta eat, which transitioned into her first book of essays. She currently has two books, Meaty and We Are Never Meeting in Real Life. In 2016, FX announced that they had purchased the television rights to her memoir (Meaty) and her blog with the intent to adapt them into a series.

 

What does she do? Samanda Irby grew up in Evanston, Illinois. The youngest of three daughters by more than a decade, she had a difficult relationship with her parents; her father, an alcoholic, was rarely present in her life, while her mother worked as a nurse at a nearby hospital. She grew up poor, as she writes in both books, and did what she could as a child to make ends meet. She worked frequent babysitting jobs in order to buy school supplies and lived on canned vegetables and pastas for most of her childhood.

 

Irby attended college for two years, but dropped out after the death of her parents. She moved back to the Chicago area and settled in the far north neighborhood of Roger’s Park. It was here, at the behest of a close friend, where she began to write her blog, bitches gotta eat. The blog discusses her personal life and comments on broader cultural issues, and it has received notable recognition for its humor and pointedness.

 

Irby’s writing was picked up by Curbside Splendor Publishing, an independent Chicago publisher. Pieces from her blog were then selected and turned into essays to comprise Meaty, her memoir and 2013 book. The book was then republished in 2018 with Vintage Books. Sam Irby has co-hosted on The Sunday Night Sex Show, performed in The Paper Machete and Story Club, and written for The Rumpus, In Our Words, and Jezebel.

 

In 2017, Irby’s second book, We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, was published to critical acclaim. Put out by Vintage Books, it made The New York Times best-seller list for paperback fiction.

 

Why watch? Irby’s first book, Meaty, is in development for adaptation as a television show on FX called Guts and Glory with comedian Abbi Jacobson and writer Jessi Klein. Irby is also a writer for the television adaptation of Lindy West’s Shrill. Irby’s voice is hilarious and powerful, and she continues to comment on ongoing political and cultural happenings. We can’t wait to see what her blog produces next.

Woman to Watch in Politics: Stacey Abrams

Stacey Abrams. Photo Courtesy of EMILY’S List.

Who is she? Stacey Yvonne Abrams is an American politician, lawyer, and romance novelist. Until recently, she served as minority leader of the Georgia House of Representatives. After winning the Democratic primary, she is the party’s nominee in the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial election—the first black female major party gubernatorial nominee in the history of the United States.

 

What does she do? One of six siblings, Abrams was born in Madison, Wisconsin and raised in Gulfport, Mississippi. She and her family moved to Atlanta while she was in middle school, which allowed her parents to pursue graduate degrees (they later became Methodist ministers). While in high school, she was hired as a typist for a congressional campaign and was later hired as a speechwriter based on edits she made while typing. She was just 17 years old.

 

Abrams graduated with a B.A. from Spelman College in 1995, later interning for the Environmental Protection Agency. As a Harry S. Truman Scholar, she studied public policy and earned a Master of Public Affairs degree in 1998. One year later, she earned her Juris Doctor from Yale Law School. After receiving this degree, Abrams worked as a tax attorney in Atlanta with a focus on tax-exempt organizations, health care, and public finance.

 

In addition to being a successful lawyer and politician, Abrams is also incredibly enterprising. She co-founded and served as the senior vice president of NOW Corp., a financial services form, then co-founded Nourish, Inc., a beverage company with a focus on infants and toddlers. She is also the CEO of Sage Works, a legal consulting firm that has represented clients in the WNBA.

 

In 2002 and at 29 years old, Abrams was appointed the Deputy City Attorney for Atlanta. She went on to represent House District 89, which includes portions of the City of Atlanta. After several years of serving in the House, Abrams decided to run for Governor of George in 2018. In the Democratic primary, she ran against Stacey Evans, another member of the George House. In May 22, 2018, Abrams won the nomination.

 

Why watch? Stacey Abrams has been formerly endorsed by Barack Obama and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She has already made history as the first black female gubernatorial nominee, but she is expected to make history again as the first black female governor in the United States. She considers herself to be a “radical liberal” and is focusing her platform on children’s issues and economic fairness.

 

 

Women to Watch in Business: Alison Heller

Alison Heller. Photo courtesy of TRELORA.

Who is she? Alison Heller is the strategic sales and marketing leader at TRELORA, an innovative, one-of-a-kind flat fee real estate company. In early 2013, she started her own company, eventually leaving to pursue a career in the real estate sector. A champion of sales, brand development, online advertising, and general innovation, Heller is doing big things to shake up well-established industries.

 

What does she do? After graduating from the University of Denver with a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing, Alison Heller embarked on an upwardly mobile career trajectory. Always in marketing, Heller worked for companies like 97.3 KBCO, Level 3 Communications, CBS Radio, AT&T Advertising Solutions, GutCheck, and Zillow Group. She moved quickly from a district sales representative at Black & Decker to a Director of Marketing and Promotions, eventually co-founding her own company in 2013. Heller’s company, Greenito, is a customer engagement platform working to change how the cannabis business reaches its customers. In early 2018, she joined the TRELORA flat fee real estate company as the Director of Revenue. She remains at TRELORA, continuing to shake up and innovate within the real estate business.

 

To understand Alison’s innovation is to understand her current company. TRELORA is working to change the industry. Rather than taking a standard 2.8% to 3% commission, TRELORA asks only for a $2,500 listing fee, saving clients an average of $12,500 on the purchase or sale of their home. To date, TRELORA has saved buyers and sellers $37,778,162, serving nearly one thousand customers annually. With cutting-edge technology and candid transparency, this company—and the people on its executive team—are already making a significant impression on the local real estate industry.

 

To that end, TRELORA prioritizes gender diversity in its staff. A multitude of experiences and opinions is the best strategy for innovation, and Alison Heller is an essential player at this company. Unseating a longstanding industry isn’t an easy job, but it’s one Heller is motivated to do.

 

Why watch? TRELORA is already restructuring the real estate industry in Denver and Seattle. With Heller at the wheel, we can only imagine the waves this company will make. Additionally, TRELORA’s focus on hiring a diverse staff makes us think that Heller has some great, innovative company on the executive team. We can’t wait to see what type of projects and collaborations come out of this role.

Women to Watch in Business: Bozoma Saint John

Bozoma Saint John. Photo by Michael Kovac.

Who is she? Bozema currently works as the Chief Marketing Officer at Endeavor, the entertainment conglomerate. Until June of 2018, she served as Uber’s Chief Brand Officer. She was also a marketing executive at Apple Music, joining the company in its acquisition of Beats Music.

 

What does she do? Born in the United States, Bozoma Saint John moved with her family to Ghana at just 6 months old. She returned to the United States when she was 12, eventually earning a degree in English from Wesleyan University. After college, Saint John worked at the advertising agencies Arnold Worldwide and Spike Lee’s Spike DDB. At an incredibly young age, she earned the title Vice President of Marketing at the fashion brand Ashley Student. She helped lead PepsiCo’s foray into music festival-based marketing as head of the Music and Entertainment Marketing division, joined Beats Music in 2014, and worked for Apple when it acquired Beats.

 

Saint John was named to Billboard Magazine’s list of the top women in music, Fast Company’s 100 most creative people, and AdWeek’s most exiting personalities in advertising. On June 6th, 2017, Saint John became the Chief Brand Officer at Uber, but left just over one year later to join Endeavor as Chief Marketing Officer. A woman of color and a single mother, Bozoma Saint John has paved the path for other women of color in the tech and marketing fields.

 

Why watch? Saint John appears to jump from company to company very quickly, aiding with rebranding processes and leaving once her work is complete. Her track record of working for large, popular companies makes us wonder where she’s end up after Endeavor. We can’t wait to see the projects she proposes next.

Women to Watch in Sports: Aly Raisman

Aly Raisman. Photo by Michael Regan.

Who is she? Aly Raisman is an American gymnast and two-time Olympian. She was a member and caption of the 2012 “Fierce Five” and the 2016 “Final Five” U.S. women’s Olympic gymnastics, winning their respective team competitions. She was the 2016 Olympic individual all-around silver medalist and floor silver medalist. At the 2012 Olympics in London, she won gold medals in the team and floor competitions and the bronze for the balance beam. She was the most decorated American gymnast. Additionally, in November of 2017, Raisman played a pivotal role in the sentencing of former Olympic team physician Larry Nassar for sexual abuse.

 

What does she do? Aly Raisman was born on May 25, 1994 in Needham, Massachusetts. She began her gymnastics training at just two years old, training at Exxcel Gymnastics and the American Gymnastics Club. Raisman was so dedicated to her gymnastics career that she completed her senior year of high school via online classes while training for the 2012 Olympics.

 

Raisman’s Olympic career began in July of 2012 at the London Summer Olympics. She helped the American Team qualify in first place for the team final while independently qualified as second in the individual all-around. Shortly after winning several medals, Raisman was injured during the Kellogg’s Tour of Gymnastics Champions; she fell while performing on the uneven bars, bruising her knees. However, Raisman returned to gymnastics two years later and was named, again, to the U.S. National Team along with Olympic teammate Gabby Douglas. She and her team performed spectacularly at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, bringing home several medals.

 

In November of 2017, Raisman came forward as one of the many women to be sexually abused by the former Olympic team physician Larry Nassar. In January of 2018, she was one of several victims to read an impact statement at Nassar’s sentencing. She filed a lawsuit against USA Gymnastics and the USOC, claiming that both organizations “knew or should have known” about the ongoing abuse. In May of 2018, Raisman and other survivors of the sexual abuse were awarded the Arthur Ashe Courage Award.

 

Why watch? It is unclear if Raisman is finished with her career as a gymnast. Regardless, she has provided a necessary voice in the ongoing battle against systemic sexual violence and abuse. We expect her to be an important figure in ongoing discussions of sexual trauma, assault, and other forms of gendered violence.

Women to Watch in Politics: Kirsten Gillibrand

Kirsten Gillibrand. Photo by Zach Gibson.

What does she do? Kirsten Gillibrand is an American attorney and politician. She has served as the junior United States Senator from New York since 2009, having previously held the position of U.S. Representative for New York’s 20th congressional district. She is a member of the Democratic Party and New York’s second female U.S. senator.

 

Who is she? Kirsten Gillibrand was born in Albany, New York to two attorneys. She graduated from Emma Willard School, an all-women’s private secondary school in Troy, New York, then enrolled at Dartmouth College. Gillibrand majored in Asian Studies and studied abroad in both Beijing and Taiwan. She graduated magna cum laude in 1988, later receiving her J.D. from UCLA School of Law. She passed the bar exam in 1991.

 

Gillibrand began her professional career as an associate at Manhattan-based law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell. Here, she worked as a defense attorney during major litigation, including both civil lawsuits and U.S. Justice Department criminal and civil racketeering probes. She became a senior associate and involved herself in the Womens Leadership Forum, a program of the Democratic National Committee. After being inspired by a speech delivered by then-First Lady Hilary Clinton, Gillibrand left her position and served as Special Counsel to Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Andrew Cuomo.

 

Gillibrand has had a wildly successful political career, encompassing and exalting both Democratic and Republican party ideals. She has served in several political roles on numerous committees and has played a key part in human rights legislation.

 

Why watch? Kirsten Gillibrand is running for re-election to the Senate for 2018. She has also been mentioned as a possible Democratic nominee for President in 2020. When asked about the potential for a Presidential run, Gillibrand said she was, “ruling it out.” Regardless, Gillibrand is a titanic voice in modern U.S. politics, and we expect to see her claim even more important, prestigious, and impactful titles later in her career.

 

Women to Watch in Business: Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg. Photo by John Lee.

What does she do? Sheryl Sandberg is a technology executive, activist, and author. She currently works as the chief operating officer (COO) of Facebook, and she is the founder of Leanin.org. In June of 2012, she was elected to the company’s board of directors, becoming the first woman to ever serve on Facebook’s board. Prior to joining Facebook, Sandberg was the vice president of global online sales and operations at Google and was heavily involved in launching Google’s philanthropic arm, Google.org. Before her career in technology, Sandberg served as chief of staff for United States Secretary of the Treasury Lawrence Summers.

 

Who is she? Sheryl Sandberg was born in 1969 in Washington, D.C. Her family moved to North Miami Beach, Florida when she was just two years old. Throughout high school, Sandberg was always at the top of her class, graduating ninth with a 4.646 GPA. A member of the National Honor Society, Sanberg enrolled at Harvard College after high school. She graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a bachelor’s degree in economics. She was awarded the John H. Williams Prize for the top graduating student in economics. She later enrolled at Harvard Business School, graduating in 1995 with her MBA with highest distinction.

 

While at Harvard, Sandberg co-founded an organization called Women in Economics and Government, spawning a lifelong career in advocated for women in the workplace. Sandberg left her government job when the Republican party gained the US Presidency in November of 2000, moving to Silicon Valley shortly thereafter. She worked as a Google Executive for seven years. In late 2007, she met co-founder and chief executive of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg. Immediately after, she accepted the role of Chief Operating Officer at the company.

 

In March of 2013, Sandberg released her first book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, co-authored by Nell Scovell. The book concerns business leadership and development, issues with the lack of women in government and business leadership positions, and feminism. In April of 2017, Sandberg released her second book Option B, which discusses grief and resilience in personal and professional life.

 

Why watch? In 2012, Sandberg was named in the Time 100, an annual list of most influential people in the world according to Time magazine. She has been an important voice in the ongoing data theft investigations and recovery operations, providing a voice for Facebook in a remarkably tumultuous time. To that end, Sandberg’s distinct professional background makes us believe that Facebook will not be her final place of work; we are very interested to see the initiatives Sandberg makes while working at Facebook and beyond.

Women to Watch in Media: Carmen Maria Machado

Carmen Maria Machado. Photo by Art Streiber.

What does she do? Carmen Maria Machado is an American short story author, essayist, and critic. Her writing is frequently published in The New Yorker, Granta, and Lightspeed Magazine. Her story collection Her Body and Other Parties, published in 2017, was a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction. It also won the 2017 National Book Critics Circle Award John Leonard Prize. Her stories have been reprinted in Year’s Best Weird Fiction, Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy, Best Horror of the Year, The New Voices of Fantasy, and Best Women’s Erotica.

 

Who is she? Raised in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Machado was born to Cuban and Austrian immigrants. She earned her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has since received fellowships and residencies from a variety of foundations: the Michener-Copernicus Foundation, the Elizabeth George Foundation, the CINTAS Foundation, the Speculative Literature Foundation, the University of Iowa, the Yaddo Corporation, Hedgebrook, and the Millay Colony for the Arts.

 

Machado has said that her writing is influenced by Ray Bradbury, Shirley Jackson, Angela Carter, Kelly Link, Helen Oyeyemi, and Yoko Ogawa. Her fiction has been called “strange and seductive,” often drawing from elements of science fiction and fantasy. She writes frankly about sexuality, spinning queer identities into everything from ghost stories to fairytales. Her essays, short stories, and criticism have been published in The New Yorker, Granta, The Paris Review, Tin House, Lightspeed Magazine, Guernica, AGNI, National Public Radio, Gulf Coast, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Strange Horizons, and other publications.

 

Why watch? Machado’s debut short story collection earned international attention. Though she has an established career as a writer of criticism and essay, Machado’s success in fiction increases the likelihood of her publishing another fantastically successful collection. Her political and cultural commentary is always astute and thoughtful, making her an excellent voice to follow in tumultuous political times.

 

Women to Watch in Media: Madeline Miller

Madeline Miller. Photo by Stephanie Diani.

What does she do? Madeline Miller is an American novelist. Her debut novel, The Song of Achilles, won the Orange Prize for Fiction, making Miller the fourth debut novelist to win the prize. Miller spent ten years writing the book while she worked as a Latin and Greek teacher. Her second novel, Circe, was released in April of 2018 to widespread critical acclaim. One of the most anticipated books of 2018, Circe is a #1 New York Times bestseller.

 

Who is she? Madeline Miller was born on July 24, 1978 in Boston. After growing up in New York City and Philadelphia, she attended Brown University, where she studied the Classics. She achieved her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Brown, then when on to teach Latin, Greek, and Shakespeare to high school students. Additionally, she studied at the University of Chicago’s Committee on Social Thought, as well as the Yale School of Drama. Her major literary inspirations include the likes of David Mitchell, Lorrie More, Anne Carson, and Virgil.

 

The Song of Achilles, Miller’s debut novel, was released in September of 2011. The book was a labor of love; it took ten years to write. Miller discarded a completed manuscript five years into the writing project, then started again from scratch. Set in Greece, The Song of Achilles tells the story of a love affair between Achilles and Patroclus—both major characters in Homer’s Iliad. Miller wanted to explore Patroclus’s character and his place within Achilles’ story.

 

The Song of Achilles was the winner of the 17th annual Orange Prize for Fiction after being named the “dark horse” candidate by several literary critics. The book was also shortlisted for the 2013 Chautauqua Prize. Her second book, Circe, is still very new at the time of this publication. However, already a #1 New York Times Best seller and one of the most anticipated books of the year, we expect it to do well in the awards circuit for 2018. Miller currently lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts teaching and writing.

 

Why watch? Miller’s dedication to craft and voice make her one of the most interesting novelists of the time. Her reimagining of Homeric characters breathes new life into the ancient texts, sparking a newfound interest in the classics. Though Miller’s books take years to write, we expect to see more award-winning work from her in the future.

 

 

Women to Watch in Politics: Amal Clooney

Amal Clooney. Photo by GC Images.

 

What does she do? Amal Alamuddin, also known as Amal Clooney, is a Lebanese-British barrister at Doughty Street Chambers. She specializes in international law and human rights. Her clients are wide-ranging and in notoriously confusing legal battles; Clooney represents Julian Assange, the founder of Wiki Leaks, in his fight against extradition. She has also represented the former prime minister of Ukraine, Yulia Tymoshenko, and Mohamed Fahmy, an Egyptian-Canadian journalist.

 

Who is she? Born in Beirut, Lebanon, Clooney and her family left the country during the 1980s Lebanese Civil War. They settled in Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire, in the United Kingdom. Clooney attended Dr Challoner’s High School, a girls’ grammar school, and studied at St. Hugh’s College at Oxford. There, she received an Exhibition and the Shrigley Award. She graduated with a BA in Jurisprudence, which is Oxford’s equivalent to the LLB. After graduating, she moved to America to study at the New York University School of Law to study for the LLM degree. She is qualified to practice as a lawyer in both the United States and in the United Kingdom.

 

In 2014, Clooney represented Canadian Al Jazeera English journalist Mohamed Fahmy, who was held in Egypt. He was pardoned by Egyptian president Abdel Fattah a-Sisi. The next year, Clooney began work on the recognition of the Armenian Genocide. She represented Armenia on behalf of Doughty Street Chambers, along with Geoffrey Robertson QC. Later in the year, she filed a case against the Government of the Republic of the Philippines before the UN’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention for the continued detention of Philippine president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. She then took a case brought by the Irish government against the British government regarding illegal interrogation methods. She has spoken in front of the United Nations and the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime and is a signatory of UNICEF UK.

 

Why watch? Amal Clooney is one of the most impressive female law professionals in the world. She has received countless legal awards, was chosen as the Most Fascinating Person of 2015, and has been shortlisted for British Style awards. The cases she takes are some of the most interesting and important in the world—tracking her career is an excellent way to understand global conflict and human rights issues/violations.

 

Women to Watch in Media: Meghan Markle

Meghan Markle at the inaugural Royal Foundation Forum. 2018. Photo by Chris Jackson – WPA Pool/Getty Images.

 

What does she do? Meghan Markle is an American actress and humanitarian. She was a counsellor One Young World, an international charity, and spoke at their 2014 annual summit in Dublin. She is concerned with gender equality and modern slavery and has traveled to Afghanistan and Spain as part of the USO Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff tour. She is a global ambassador for World Vision Canada and has worked with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. Markle also portrayed Rachel Zane on the legal drama series, Suits. She is engaged to Prince Harry, making her the first woman of color to join the British royal family.

 

Who is she? Born in Los Angeles, Markle grew up in Hollywood. Her parents divorced when she was just six years old. Her first venture into activism came at age 11, where she successfully campaigned to get a company to change a national television commercial that she viewed as sexist. She was profiled by Linda Ellerbee on Nick News. She later earned a bachelor’s degree with a double major in theater and international studies from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. In school, she worked as a freelance calligrapher to support herself, and she interned at the US embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

 

In her early career, Markle had small guest rolls on television shows such as General Hospital, Century City, The War at Home, and CSI: NY. In 2011, she won the role of Rachel Zane on the USA Network Show Suits. While filming, Markle was also the founder and editor-in-chief of a lifestyle website, which profiles women professionals. In June of 2016, Markle began a relationship with Prince Harry, who is fifth in line to the British throne.

 

Why watch? Markle is transitioning out of her life as an actress and into a place within the British royal family. Her engagement to Prince Harry is nontraditional—Markle is divorced, an American, and a woman of color. The couple engagement announcement prompted commentary on the significance of Markle’s race and status, and periphery members of the royal family have made both sexist and racists comments regarding the bride-to-be. We are interested to see just how much discussion on royalty and race Markle sparks.

 

Women to Watch in Media: Maggie Nelson

Maggie Nelson. Profile image originally posted by author on Amazon.

What does she do? Maggie Nelson is an American writer. Her best-known work, The Argonauts, has won several awards, including the New York Times Notable Book and the National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism. In 2012, she won a Creative Capital Literature Fellowship, in 2011 an NEA Fellowship in Poetry, in 2010 a Guggenheim Fellowship in Nonfiction, and in 2007 an Andy Warhol Foundation/Creative Capital Arts Writers Grant. You could say she’s talented.

 

Who is she? As a young adult, Nelson studied English at Wesleyan University, where she was taught by American writer Annie Dillard. After receiving her Bachelor’s degree, she attended the CUNY Graduate Center; here, she wrote a dissertation called, “Women, the New York School, and Other True Abstractions,” which was published by the University of Iowa press in 2007. Her first foray into criticism, this dissertation earned Nelson national acclaim—she explores the heteronormative 1950s and 60s New York Abstract Expressionist movements, calling attention to female artists and gay male poets.

 

After earning her degrees, Nelson began a fruitful career in teaching. She has taught at the Graduate Writing Program of the New School, Wesleyan University, the School of Art and Design at Pratt Institute, and CalArts. Currently, she is a professor of English at the University of Southern California. A prolific writer, Nelson has written five nonfiction books and four books of poetry.

 

Why watch? In 2016, nelson won a MacArthur Fellowship. Her written work includes important thought on art, feminism, queerness, sexual violence, the history of the avant-garde, aesthetic theory, and philosophy. Nelson is as close to a public intellectual as we’ve ever seen, and we cannot wait to see her next published piece of criticism.

 

Women to Watch in Media: Lindy West

Lindy West. Photo from lindywest.net

What does she do? Lindy West is a writer, comedian, and activist living Seattle, Washington. A former writer for online publication Jezebel, West is the author of the essay collection Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman and a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times. In the past, she has written for The Daily Telegraph, GQ, the New York Daily News, Vulture.com, Deadspin, Cracked.com, MSNBC, and The Guardian.

 

Who is she? Educated at Occidental College in Los Angeles, West’s career began as the film editor for Seattle’s alternative weekly newspaper, The Stranger. Using this invaluable experience, she launched into a career as a staff writer for Jezebel, where she wrote on racism, sexism, and fat shaming. In 2013, West won the Social Media Award from the Women’s Media Center, stating in her acceptance speech: “I hear a lot these days about the lazy, aimless ‘millennials’ –about how all we want to do is sit around twerking our iPods and Tweedling our Kardashians – and I also hear people asking, ‘Where is the next generation of the social justice movement? Where are all the young feminists and womanists and activists?’ Dude, they’re on the internet.”

 

In 2015, West co-founded Shout Your Abortion, a social media campaign designed to create a platform for women to share their abortion experiences “without sadness, shame, or regret.” In 2016, she won The Stranger’s Genius Award in Literature.

 

Why watch? West has recently signed two new book contracts. One is a cultural critique meant to examine how we arrived at this moment in history— “to make some sense of this horrifying quagmire in which we find ourselves,” according to the Hachette press release. The other is a book centered on West’s film criticism. Though neither of these books have titles or confirmed release dates, we are thrilled to see what West publishes.

 

Women to Watch in Sports: Lindsey Vonn

Lindsey Vonn. Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics. From USATodaySports.

 

What does she do? Lindsey Vonn is one of the most decorated skiers in the world. She won a record eight World Cup season titles in downhill, five titles in super-G, and three consecutive titles in the combined. She is one of just six women to have won World Cup races in all five disciplines of alpine skiing—downhill, super-G, giant slalom, slalom, and super combined. She has the highest super ranking of all skiers—both men and women—and has won 81 World Cup races in her career.

 

Who is she? Vonn was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota and grew up in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. She began skiing at just two years old, moving into a renowned development program at a very young age. According to Erich Sailer, the program’s founder and coach, Vonn’s father pushed her very hard. At ten, Vonn met Olympic gold medalist and ski racer Picabo Street—her hero and role model. After several years of commuting to Colorado for ski training, she and her family moved to Vail in the late 1990s.

 

After climbing through the ranks of the U.S. Ski Team, Vonn made her World Cup debut in 2000. She was sixteen years old. Later, in 2002, Vonn had her Olympic debut at Salt Lake City games. She raced in both slalom and combined and, later in the year, earned a silver medal I downhill in the Junior World Championship. After several years of racing in and winning World Cup races, Vonn returned to the Olympics in 2006, clocking the second-best time in the first practice run. However, she crashed in the second training run and was evacuated by helicopter to be hospitalized overnight. However, she returned to the slopes and finished eighth, earning her the U.S. Olympic Spirit Award.

 

Why watch? Vonn hit her stride in the late 2000s and early 2010s, winning consecutive World Cup races and breaking several Olympic records. Though Vonn has said the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics will be her last, she is planning a return to the World Cup circuit. She wants to beat Ingemar Stenmark’s record of 86 World Cup victories.

Women to Watch in Media: Lena Waithe

Lena Waithe at the 2017 Emmys. Photo by Steve Granitz: WireImage.

 

What does she do? Lena Waithe is an American actress, producer, and screenwriter. She is best known for her role on Aziz Ansari’s Netflix show, Master of None, wherein she portrays a young, African American gay woman named Denise. At the 2017 Emmys, she won an the award for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series for her work on Master of None, becoming the first black woman to receive this recognition. She was a writer for the 2012 Nickelodeon sitcom How to Rock and a producer on the 2014 comedy film Dear White People.

 

Who is she? Born in Chicago, Illinois, Waithe grew up wanting to be a television writer. She lived on the South Side until she was twelve-year-old, attending Turner-Drew, an Elementary magnet school. From there, she graduated from Evanston Township High School, going on to receive a degree in Cinema and Television Arts from Columbia College Chicago. Waithe’s professional career began with a writing position for the Fox television series, Bones. A place in Variety’s “10 Comedians to Watch” list introduced her to Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang.

 

Though the producers of Master of Young originally intended for Denise to be a straight white woman, Waithe’s talent helped her achieve the roll of a lifetime. The original scripts were re-written to make the character sound more like Waithe. On the topic of this role, Waithe has said: “I don’t know if we’ve seen a sly, harem pants-wearing, cool Topshop sweatshirt-wearing, snapback hat-rocking lesbian on TV. I know many women I see out in the world who are very much like myself. We exist. To me, the visibility of it was what was going to be so important and so exciting.”

 

Why watch? Waithe is a smart and poignant writer, earning international acclaim for her work on Master of None. She is the creative force behind the new Showtime series The Chi—a drama about life on Chicago’s South Side. This topical work, combined with Waithe’s wit and comedic grace, is bound to start important conversations in communities nationwide. We also predict more awards in Waithe’s future.

 

Women to Watch in Business: Leora Rothschild

Leora Rothschild. Courtesy of Rothschild Safaris.

Business: Rothschild African Safaris

 

What they do: Rothschild is an award-winning tour operator specializing in safari experiences. The company’s Travel Designers personally travel to every destination offered in order to try every style of accommodation. Rothschild Safaris’ research sets them apart from other travel consultants; employees often spend weeks driving instead of flying in order to test a particular route, and they stay at each suggested accommodation to ensure traveler satisfaction. Their 24/7 global service, transparency, and thirty years of experience make them an easy choice for those seeking adventure in Africa and Asia.

 

Background: A native South African, Leora founded Rothschild Safaris in 1998. Leora believes that, in order to know and understand a destination, one must know more than just a hotel and a few restaurants. She understands the importance of local community, striving to incorporate “locals-only” destinations and touches into her trips. In her own words, “You need to know the right people, because when you need something to happen quickly, you better know who to call!”

Leora has been named to the 2017 Travel + Leisure A-List of Top Travel Specialists several times for her expertise in planning family safaris and honeymoon safaris to Africa. Her experiences include everything from rooms with private plunge pools to off-the beaten-track camps.

 

Currently, Leora is travelling on safari in South Africa. When she is not on the road vetting new Rothschild Safari destinations, Leora enjoys splitting her time between the United States and Australia, spending time with her husband and two daughters, and working on exciting new challenges. She takes her daughters with her on safari and has for years, raising them just as she was raised.

 

Women to Watch in Sports: Yusra Mardini

Yusra Mardini. 2016 Olympian. AP Photo.

What does she do? Yusra Mardini is a Syrian swimmer currently living in Berlin, Germany. She was a member of the Refugee Olympic Athletes Team (ROT) that competed under the Olympic flag at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. She competed the 100m freestyle and the 100m butterfly, winning one heat in the latter.

 

Who is she? Born and raised in Damascus, Mardini’s house was destroyed in the Syrian Civil War. She and her sister, Sarah, decided to flee Syria in August of 2015. They reached Lebanon and Turkey on foot, but had arranged to enter Greece via a boat from Turkey. This boat, which was meant to hold only six or seven people, transported 20 total migrants across the Aegean Sea.

 

One day into the journey, the boat’s motor stopped working, and the dinghy began to take on water. Only four of the twenty migrants were able to swim; Mardini, with the help of her sister and two additional passengers, got into the water and pushed the boat for over three hours until it reached Lesbos. From there, Yusra and Sarah traveled through Europe to Germany, where they eventually settled in Berlin. Here, she began to train with her coach, Sven Spannenkrebs, in hopes of qualifying for the Olympics.

 

Why watch? At just 19 years old, Yusra is looking forward to a long career in swimming. However, in the spring of 2017, she was appointed a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, signaling a potential departure into the world of diplomacy and public service. She plans to swim at the next Summer Olympics, and we cannot wait to see the humanitarian efforts she spearheads in the coming years.

 

Women to Watch in Politics: Ilhan Omar

Ilhan Omar. Minnesota, April 2017.

What does she do? Ilhan Omar was the first Somali-American Muslim legislator elected to office in the United States. In 2016, she was elected a Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party member of the Minnesota House of Representatives. In addition to assuming her role as an elected official, Omar is the Director of Policy and Initiatives of the Women Organizing Women Network. She is also a Policy Fellow at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

 

Who is she? Omar was born in Mogadishu, Somalia, but grew up in Baydhabo. The youngest of seven siblings, Omar’s father worked as a teacher trainer, but her mother died young. In 1995, at age 13, her family emigrated to the United States, originally settling in Arlington, Virginia. Omar learned English very quickly—within three months—and moved to Minneapolis with her family after just a year in Arlington. She graduated from North Dakota State University with a degree in political science and international studies.

 

Omar’s professional career began as a Community Nutrition Educator with the University of Minnesota. In 2012, she entered the world of politics, serving as the Campaign Manager for Kari Dziedzic’s reelection campaign for the Minnesota State Senate. After working on several local campaigns, Omar served as the Senior Policy Aide in Andrew Johnson’s office from 2013 to 2015. She made her own run for the Minnesota House of Representatives in 2016, winning the general election.

 

Why watch? Ilhan Omar began her term in the Minnesota House of Representatives on January 3rd, 2017. As of September 2017, Representative Omar has authored 25 bills and co-authored 166 bills, making her an extremely prolific legislator. She is young—just 35 years old—and we expect to see her making a difference on a national level within the next few years.

 

Women to Watch in Media: Elaine Welteroth

Elaine Welteroth. Teen Vogue Magazine. Photo by Kris Connor.

What does she do? In 2017, Welteroth was named editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue magazine. This promotion makes her the second African-American editor-in-chief in Condé Nast’s 107-year-long history. Additionally, she is the youngest Condé Nast editor in history, receiving her promotion at age 29. Before serving as editor-in-chief, Welteroth was Teen Vogue’s first African-American beauty director. She is credited for the notable increase in the publication’s coverage of politics and social justice.

 

Who is she? Born in Santa Clara, California, Elaine Welteroth grew up in and around the Fremont area. She graduated from California State University – Sacramento with a major in Mass Communication/Media Studies and a minor in journalism. After college, Welteroth worked as an internship at the advertising, marketing, and public relations firm, Oglivy & Mather, then utilizing that experience to launch into a content producer for SomaGirls.TV. Her first experience in the magazine industry came via an unpaid internship at Ebony magazine. From there, she became the magazine’s Beauty & Style Editor.

 

Welteroth joined the Condé Nast family in 2011 as Glamour magazine’s Beauty & Style Editor, then as Senior Beauty Editor. She used this position to access Teen Vogue, joining the publication’s team in October of 2012. Four years later, she was named editor-in-chief. Since this promotion, the magazine’s focus has expanded to include politics and social justice, including critical coverage of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The magazine’s direction now emphasizes digital publication and a wide social media presence, expanding content accessibility.

 

Why Watch? Welteroth is a prolific writer and powerful public figure. Since transforming Teen Vogue into a legitimate source of journalism, she has been featured as a “Woman to Watch” with several publications. In the coming months, she will leave Teen Vogue to be represented by CAA, working to expand her opportunities in film, television, digital, and branding endorsements. A talented public speaker and opinionated and informed individual, we would not be surprised to see Welteroth pursue a career in politics.

 

Women to Watch in Politics: Tammy Duckworth

Tammy Duckworth. Official Portrait. 113th Congress.

What does she do? Tammy Duckworth is an American politician and retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel. She was elected the junior United States Senator for Illinois in 2016. Before seeking elective office, she served as the Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs in the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. In the 2016 election, she defeated incumbent Republican Senator Mark Kirk. Duckworth is the first Asian American woman elected to Congress in Illinois, and she is the first disabled woman to be elected to Congress.

 

Who is she? Born in Bangkok, Thailand, Duckworth spent her childhood moving around Southeast Asia. Her father, a U.S. Marine, had worked with the United Nations and international companies in refugee, housing, and development programs, necessitating nearly have a dozen moves in Duckworth’s early life. This experience, however, resulted in her becoming fluent in Thai and Indonesian, in addition to English. When she was 16, Duckworth’s family moved to Honolulu, Hawaii; she graduated from the University of Hawaii in 1989 with a Bachelor of Arts in political science, later receiving a Master of Arts in international affairs from George Washington University.

 

After receiving her master’s degree, Duckworth joined the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. She became a commissioned officer in the United States Army Reserve and chose to fly helicopters—it was one of the few combat jobs available to women. In 2004, she was deployed to Iraq. Later that year, the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter she was co-piloting was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade fired by Iraqi insurgents, leading to the loss of her right leg near the hip. She received a Purple Heart, retuning to the United States to run for elective office.

 

Why watch? Duckworth is sure to be a loud voice in bipartisan politics. Though a elected as a member of the Democratic party, Duckworth’s military experience and understanding give her a voice in Republican politics. We believe Duckworth’s name will appear as a co-author on several bipartisan-sponsored bills in the coming years.

 

Women to Watch in Business: Emily Weiss

Emily Weiss. (Photo courtesy of Glossier.)

Business: Glossier

What they do: Glossier is a cosmetics company working to shift the conversation around beauty products. They believe beauty should be fun, easy, imperfect, and personal, striving for transparency in everything from product development and production to ingredients. Glossier products prioritize skincare, letting their uncomplicated line of makeup take the backseat. The winner of several “best product” and “best marketing” awards, Glossier is changing the way we think about and purchase cosmetics.

 

Background: Emily is the Founder and CEO of Into the Gloss and Glossier, where she leads a team of 45 employees. Raised in Wilton, Connecticut, Weiss intered with Ralph Lauren for two summers and had a brief modeling career. In 2007, she graduated from New York University with a degree in studio art. After receiving her degree, Weiss became a fashion assistant at W Magazine and an on-set styling assistant for Vogue.

 

While working for Vogue, Weiss continued to focus on Into the Gloss, her popular beauty blog. After amassing more than 10 million readers worldwide, she left Condé Nast to focus on her business full-time. Into the Gloss then transformed into Glossier, a women-driven cosmetics company. The business is known for its transparency and guerrilla marketing strategies, and it is credited as the vanguard for social media-driven marketing campaigns.