The New Golden Age
SELECTED FROM 10,000 NOMINEES, THESE 50 WOMEN ARE RUNNING COMPANIES AT SCALE ($20 MILLION OR MORE IN REVENUE), LEADING MOVEMENTS AND CHANGING THE WORLD. THEY’RE ALSO PAYING FORWARD THEIR AFTER-50 SUCCESS.
Madeleine Albright • AGE: 84 Diplomat
Born in the former Czechoslovakia in 1937, Albright escaped Nazi occupation with her family, eventually arriving at Ellis Island in 1948. A half-century later, when she was 59, Albright was appointed the nation’s first female Secretary of State. She has spent the last 20 years working to safeguard democracies around the world, and in 2018 published Fascism: A Warning.
Nandita Bakhshi • 62 CEO, Bank of the West, Co-CEO, BNP Paribas USA Inc.
In 2008, Bakhshi was working at Washington Mutual when it became the biggest bank failure in American history. Not knowing what to do with her career, she returned to her native India to spend time with family and work at a microfinance organization, lending money to women in rural areas. She came back to the U.S. the following year and was tapped in 2016 to be CEO of Bank of the West, a subsidiary of BNP Paribas, where she’s using what she learned about gender equity in finance to advocate for women in P&L roles.
Mary Barra • 59 Chair and CEO, General Motors
When Barra was named the CEO of GM in 2014, she became the first woman to lead one of the nation’s Big Three automakers. Barra has since pushed the 112-year-old company to focus on 21st-century innovations, including self-driving cars and electric vehicles; she has pledged that the entire GM fleet will be electric by 2035.
Gail Becker • 57 Founder and CEO, Caulipower
Becker’s career has taken her from Capitol Hill (she was a broadcast journalist in the late 1980s) to the halls of Warner Bros., where she worked as a communications strategist in the earliest days of the DVD. In 2016, when Becker was running strategic partnerships for communications firm Edelman, she had a breakthrough idea in her kitchen—where she spent too much time and made too big a mess assembling homemade cauliflower-crust pizzas for her two then-teenage sons, both of whom have Celiac disease. Unable to find good frozen options, she decided to package and sell her own, inadvertently creating a new category of cauliflower-based food. Today, Caulipower is one of the fastest-growing food brands, with more than $100 million in annual sales.
Kathy Bolhous • 61 CEO, Charter Next Generation
As the ninth of 10 siblings, who also put herself through college, Bolhous knows a thing or two about healthy competition and hard work. These lessons served her well: In 2010, when Bolhous took the reins as Charter Next’s CEO, the plastics company was worth a paltry $62 million. Bolhous kept her head down, investing in the company’s technology and, in 2019, engineering a merger with a competitor to form a bigger, better Charter. Investors approve: In May 2021, the company landed an investment (of an undisclosed amount) from KKR that puts Charter’s new market value at $4 billion.
Diana Bomar • 74 Founder and CEO, Platinum Cargo Logistics
Bomar dropped out of college to raise her children, but by the time she turned 57, those kids were adults. She realized she was now free to leave a career spent working in sales for other people and go into business for herself. So she launched Catalyst Solutions, an independent logistics company. Four years later, Bomar spun Catalyst into Platinum Cargo Logistics, a domestic and international shipping provider with a staff of 130 and north of $50 million in annual revenue.
Rosalind “Roz” Brewer • 58 CEO, Walgreens Boots Alliance
In 2021, Walgreens Boots Alliance appointed Brewer its CEO, making her the only Black woman at the helm of an S&P 500 company. The daughter of assembly-line workers at General Motors, she was a first-generation college student who started as a trained chemist at Kimberly-Clark. In 2017, Brewer became the first woman and first AfricanAmerican to serve as COO of Starbucks.
Tracy Chadwell • 55 Founding Partner, 1843 Capital
Only 2.4% of venture capital founders are women, but after a career spent in law and banking, Chadwell felt ready to take on the challenge. In 2016, she founded 1843 Capital (named after the year that Ada Lovelace wrote the first computer program) as a vehicle to invest in early-stage startups founded by women and operating in the “silver tech” space—that is, technology geared toward improving the lives of people over age 50.
Carmen Chang • 73 General Partner, New Enterprise Associates (NEA)
Born in Nanjing, China, and raised in Taiwan, Chang came to the U.S. to attend Stanford. She then spent decades as a lawyer representing some of the world’s biggest tech companies: Tencent, Lenovo, Huawei and Foxconn. At 64, Chang switched careers, becoming a venture capitalist. In 2013, she was named NEA’s first female general partner. Her eye for Chinese deals has been valuable: Her portfolio of investments includes TikTok’s parent, ByteDance, and software company Tuya, which has had the second-largest IPO by a Chinese company in 2021 so far.
Anna Maria Chávez • 53 Executive Director and CEO, National School Boards Association
In June 2020, Chávez was appointed to the biggest job of her life: running an organization that represents the nation’s 50 million public-school students during a pandemic that has shuttered in-person learning for more than a year. A longtime advocate for better STEM education for women and the former head of Girl Scouts of America, Chávez is using her position to lobby for more coronavirus relief for schools, arguing that the $54 billion deployed in December is insufficient in the face of municipal budget cuts.
Liz Cheney • 54 Congresswoman, Wyoming–At Large
A conservative who was first elected to her congressional seat at age 50, the daughter of the former vice president has quickly risen to national prominence as her party’s most vocal critic of former President Trump. One
of just 10 House Republicans to vote to impeach the former president in January, she has since fought claims that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen,” a stance that led her party to vote to remove her as leadership chair in May.
Jennifer Doudna • 57 Cofounder, Mammoth Biosciences
Doudna, a biochemist, was awarded a Nobel Prize in December for her work in CRISPR gene editing, which enables the genomes of living organisms to be modified. She’s also an entrepreneur: In 2017, she cofounded CRISPR disease-detecting firm Mammoth Biosciences, which in 2020 raised a $45 million Series B round and counts Apple CEO Tim Cook among its early investors; today, she’s the chair of the company’s scientific advisory board. Doudna has also applied CRISPR technology to the pandemic through Mammoth’s creation of a Covid-19 diagnostic test, though it has not yet been deployed at scale.
Fran Dunaway • 60 Cofounder and CEO, TomboyX
At 52, Dunaway cofounded gender-neutral intimates and loungewear maker TomboyX with her wife. They’ve gone from working out of their garage to running a fast-growing business whose sales jumped 50% last year, to $24 million. The company also represents the community it serves, with 81% of the 35 employees identifying as female or genderqueer/nonconforming, 42% as LGBTQ and 16% as nonwhite.
Cathy Engelbert • 56 Commissioner, WNBA
In 2019, at age 54, Engelbert was named commissioner of the WNBA, the oldest professional women’s sports league in the United States. Immediately prior to that, she spent four years as Deloitte’s CEO, the first woman to hold that position. She also sits on the board of McDonald’s.
Amy Errett • 63 CEO and Founder, Madison Reed
Errett worked at Bankers Trust, E-Trade and venture capital firm Maveron before starting her at-home hair color company, Madison Reed, in 2013. Sales for the brand have boomed as the pandemic shuttered salons, including her own. She grew her customer service team, hosted virtual tutorials with colorists and expanded TV advertising. The pivot paid off: Madison Reed raked in more than $100 million in 2020 revenue, double that of the previous year. The company raised $52 million in February, bringing its total funding to nearly $200 million.
Janet Evanovich • 78 Author
Evanovich had been writing romance books with moderate success when, at 51, she published her first crime novel, the first in what became the Stephanie Plum series. Forty of her books have been New York Times bestsellers; her advances, which once amounted to $7,000, now routinely top seven figures.
Aicha Evans • 52 CEO, Zoox
Growing up in Senegal and Paris, Evans idolized Marie Curie and dreamed of becoming a technologist—one who would make an impact on the world. In 2019, after more than a decade working for Intel, Evans got that chance: She was tapped to become the CEO of autonomous-vehicle company Zoox. Less than a year later, she orchestrated its $1.2 billion sale to Amazon but held on to her C-suite spot. “When you’re a little girl born in West Africa, you’re not exactly supposed to be—at least in this current world—sitting where I am,” she says.
Anne Finucane • 68 Vice Chair, Bank of America
Bank of America’s vice chair since 2015, Finucane is on the cutting edge of corporate and social responsibility initiatives with a
$300 billion budget to spark climate action and $1.25 billion to support racial justice and equality for people of color. She is a confidante of CEO Brian Moynihan, who once joked that “we all report to Anne.”
Jane Fraser • 53 CEO, Citigroup
Fraser became the first female CEO of a major Wall Street bank in March when she took the job at Citi as the first woman to lead the 209-year-old firm. Born in Scotland, Fraser started her career as an analyst at Goldman Sachs in London in 1988. After earning her MBA in 1994, she joined McKinsey & Co. as a part-time consultant while raising her two young children; she later became a partner.
Ina Garten • 73 Chef, TV Host
In 1978, Garten left her job as a budget analyst at the White House to buy a specialty food store in East Hampton, New York. After 18 years, she sold the business and decided to write a cookbook. In 1999, at age 51, she published the best-selling The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, catapulting her career. Her popular Food Network show debuted in 2002, and she has written 12 chart-topping cookbooks in all.
Marla Ginsburg • 65 CEO and Owner, MarlaWynne
At one point a high-ranking television producer with credits including Highlander and La Femme Nikita, Ginsburg saw her career prospects and investments wiped out after the 2007 TV writers’ strike and 2008 recession. So in 2009, Ginsburg bought a sewing machine and taught herself to make clothes. The result: her fashion brand MarlaWynne, which peddles “real woman sizes” and is aimed at Boomers growing older. It has found success on QVC and HSN, where it’s one of the top brands. Revenue topped $60 million last year.
Kamala Harris • 56 Vice President of the United States of America
On January 20, 2021, Harris became the highest-ranking woman in American political history (see story, page 19). She is the first woman, the first Black person, the first South Asian–American and the first graduate of a historically Black college to become vice president of the United States.
Teresa Y. Hodge • 58 Founder, CEO Mission Launch
When Hodge was 44 years old, she was found guilty of mail fraud and served 70 months in jail. Five years after getting out, in 2017, she cofounded an alternative background-check service, R3 Score, with her daughter (the startup was accepted into incubator Techstars) and Mission Launch, a nonprofit that works with financial institutions to help the formerly incarcerated obtain access to capital to start their own businesses.
Lori Hotz • 54 Cofounder and Co-CEO, Lobus
Three years ago, Hotz started the assetmanagement platform she wished existed when she was a global managing director at Christie’s. Now with $5 billion in assets, Lobus leverages blockchain technology to provide artists, collectors and advisors with management tools including real-time market pricing information, portfolio analytics and a digital inventory. Its mission is to give artists continued ownership over their work so they profit from future sales.
Arianna Huffington • 70 Founder and CEO, Thrive Global
In 2005, at age 54, the journalist and author founded her own media company, The Huffington Post. She collapsed two years later due to sleep deprivation and burnout. It led her to change her habits and, eventually, her career trajectory. At 65, she left to start Thrive Global, a company that aims to help people reduce stress and burnout via media and technology.
Dr. Katalin Karikó • 66 Biochemist and Senior VP, BioNTech
The Hungary-born scientist immigrated to Philadelphia in 1985 with her husband, daughter and roughly $1,200 stuffed in a teddy bear for safe keeping. She pioneered research into mRNA technology in the early 1990s but for years toiled away in obscurity. At one point, she was demoted because a boss deemed the technology too nascent. Now she’s being hailed as a hero whose work helped accelerate the development of the Pfizer and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines currently being distributed across the globe.
Kay Koplovitz • 76 Cofounder and Chair, Springboard Enterprises
Koplovitz started USA Today Networks in 1977 and helmed the company until it was sold for $4.5 billion in 1998. In 2000, at age 55, she started the accelerator Springboard Enterprises to increase funding for female founders. Since then, Springboard’s 835 portfolio companies have created more than $27.5 billion in value.
Ellen Latham • 64 Founder, Orangetheory Fitness
In 2010, Latham cofounded Orangetheory Fitness, a boutique workout that has developed a cult following and, pre-pandemic, hit $1 billion in franchise-wide sales. Starting the company marked a rebound for Latham: When she was 40, she had been fired from her job as a physiologist at a high-end spa. She was a single mother, so to pay the bills she started teaching Pilates out of her home; this eventually morphed into what is now the signature science-backed Orangetheory workout.
Karen Lynch • 58 President and CEO, CVS Health
Lynch ascended to the top role at the 300,000-person health-services company in February. She joined Aetna in 2012 and was appointed its president three years later. She joined CVS as executive vice president when it completed its $70 billion acquisition of Aetna in 2018, and has led its Covid-19 response effort since last March. To date, CVS has administered 23 million Covid tests and more than 17 million vaccines in its stores and long-term care facilities.
Susan Lyne • 70 Founder, BBG Ventures
In 2014, Lyne founded BBG Ventures, a firm focused on early-stage consumer companies with female founders. Her portfolio reads like a who’s-who of such startups, with investments in Glamsquad, Full Harvest, Lola and Zola, among others. Lyne made the jump to entrepreneur/venture capitalist after a career spent in corporate America; she held various leadership positions at Disney, ABC, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Gilt Groupe and AOL’s Brand Group. Gail McGovern • 69 CEO, American Red Cross McGovern was tapped as Red Cross CEO in 2008, when its reputation and finances were in need of rescue. Using nearly 30 years of corporate experience at places like AT&T, McGovern streamlined the Red Cross’ 720 chapters by consolidating purchasing, marketing and other vital resources to cut costs and increase efficiency. More than a decade later, she has been largely credited for revitalizing the organization, which responds to some 60,000 disasters every year. Cindy J. Miller • 58 CEO, Stericycle Miller began her career as a UPS delivery driver, ultimately spending more than three decades with the logistics company before joining medical-services provider Stericycle as president and COO in 2018. A year later, at 55, Miller was promoted to CEO. She has since led Stericycle to a $7 billion market capitalization—up 55% since her promotion—and overseen its rollout of pandemicrelated medical waste disposal. Donda Mullis • 57 Cofounder and CMO, Raw Sugar Living After decades as a marketer helping other people develop their brands, Mullis decided it was time to build her own company at age 51. In 2014, she and husband Ronnie Shugar launched Raw Sugar, a clean-beauty brand now sold in Target stores nationwide. Estimated sales last year were $60 million.
Kim Ng • 52 General Manager, Miami Marlins
Ng, who played softball at the University of Chicago and wrote her thesis on Title IX, has spent her career in baseball’s front offices and unsuccessfully sought the GM job with ten teams over the years; the Dodgers, Mariners and Angels are among the franchises that turned her down. It was a 2020 interview with Derek Jeter’s Marlins that got her around the bases at last. Ng is the first woman in Major League Baseball history to become a team’s GM.
Catherine O’Hara • 67 Actress
O’Hara started her career as a comedian in 1974 and appeared on television and in movies throughout the ’80s and ’90s (notably, she played Kevin’s mother in Home Alone). But her theatrical portrayal of Schitt’s Creek’s Moira Rose from 2015 to
2020 propelled O’Hara to new levels of fame and meme-ability. As her now-iconic character might say: “I can hardly hear you! The cheering and accolades are drowning out your gentle voice.”
Eren Ozmen • 62 Owner, Chairwoman and President, Sierra Nevada Corporation
Ozmen and her husband, Fatih, both Turkish immigrants, used their house as collateral to get a loan to buy Sierra Nevada Corporation for $5 million in 1994. They grew what was then a 20-person electronics business into a multibillion-dollar global aerospace and national-security company with nearly 5,000 employees. In 2008, they bought their now-famous Dream Chaser spacecraft, signaling their move into that sector; nine years later, Ozmen became a billionaire. In 2020, NASA selected Dream Chaser to provide cargo services for the International Space Station.
Bettie J. Parker • 72 Mayor, Elizabeth City, North Carolina
When Parker was born in 1948 in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, Jim Crow ruled the land. Growing up, she was not allowed to use most city services, including the public swimming pools. Sixty-nine years later, in 2017—and after a 33-year career as a math teacher at the town’s high school—Parker was elected its mayor. She is the first woman to hold the position.
Nancy Pelosi • 81 Speaker of the House of Representatives
First elected to Congress at age 47, Pelosi became the first woman to lead a major political party when she was elected Speaker of the House in 2007. She regained her position and started her third term as speaker in 2019 after the Democrats retook the house in the 2018 midterm elections, becoming the first person to serve three terms as the head of the House in more than 60 years.
Esther Perel • 62 Psychotherapist, Author and Podcast Host
Perel has run her New York City–based practice for more than 35 years, but the release of her 2017 book, The State of Affairs, and the launch of her podcast, Where Should We Begin, turned her into the nation’s preeminent relationship and sexuality expert. Perel’s three TED Talks have racked up 30 million– plus views, and her two bestsellers have been translated into nearly 30 languages.
Shonda Rhimes • 51 Founder, Shondaland
The creator of Grey’s Anatomy scored this year with Bridgerton, the first show she produced for Netflix under her landmark $150 million deal. (See story, page 72.)
María Elvira Salazar • 59 Congresswoman, Florida-27
Salazar came to politics after a threedecade career as a journalist for Spanishlanguage television. She first ran to represent Florida’s 27th congressional district in 2018, positioning her past interviews with Fidel Castro and Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro as confrontations with “corrupt elites.” Though she lost that 2018 race, she engineered an upset victory in 2020 with support from President Trump and a surge of conservative Cuban-American voters in Miami-Dade County.
Miyoko Schinner • 63 Founder and CEO, Miyoko’s Creamery
In 2014, then-57-year-old Schinner founded vegan cheese company Miyoko’s Creamery from her California kitchen. She now oversees a 200-person team, and her plant-based cheese and butter products are sold in more than 29,000 stores across North America and Australia. The vegan and self-proclaimed “former cheese-aholic” also runs Rancho Compasión, a sanctuary that rescues neglected farm animals.
Melisse Shaban • 60 Founder and CEO, Virtue Labs
The keratin used in Shaban’s hair-care products to repair damaged hair was developed by the military to heal battlefield injuries. Shaban started Virtue Labs in 2014, two years after meeting the scientists behind the keratin; her first products launched in 2017. In just four years since its launch, Virtue has won more than 50 editorial and industry awards and signed Jennifer Garner as a celebrity partner (her hairdresser recommended the product). Its revenue doubled year-overyear to $30 million in 2020.
Judy Sheindlin • 78 TV Courtroom Judge
The Manhattan criminal and family court judge known for her tough demeanor captured the attention of millions with her courtroom program Judge Judy, which debuted in 1996 when she was already 53 (after she retired from her court job). It became the top-rated daytime TV show, and her $47 million annual salary starting in 2012 made her one of television’s highestpaid stars. In 2021, Judge Judy goes off the air after 25 seasons, but Sheindlin will soon debut a new show, Judy Justice, on cable and streaming.
Rea Ann Silva • 59 Founder, Beautyblender
Silva was working as a makeup artist on the show Girlfriends when she formed the beginnings of what would become a category-creating product: She cut makeup sponges into egg shapes to smooth skin imperfections to a degree that not even high-definition television would show. Actors swiped them for themselves—helping convince her to found Beautyblender in 2007. Silva kept her day job as a makeup artist as she worked to scale the company but didn’t move to the business full-time until Beautyblender’s products expanded nationwide in 2012. Today, sales are close to $200 million.
Ruth J. Simmons • 75 President, Prairie View A&M University
Simmons has had multiple “firsts” in academia, but her biggest have come past age 50. In 2001, she was named president of Brown University, making her the school’s first female president and the first African-American to lead an Ivy League institution. In 2017, at age 71, she was named the first female president of Prairie View A&M, a historically Black college in Texas.
Dr. Laura Stachel • 62 Cofounder and Executive Director, We Care Solar
A trained concert pianist whose dexterity helped during her two-decade career as an obstetrician, Stachel had been a busy clinician until a back injury sidelined her medical career in her mid-40s. She went back to school, getting her master’s in public health. When she was 51, she cofounded We Care Solar, an energy company that provides “solar suitcases” (briefcases filled with solarpowered lighting and emergency communication tools) to underserved health clinics and hospitals throughout Africa. To date, 6,000 of them have helped more than 7.5 million mothers and newborns.
Carol Tomé • 64 CEO, UPS
Tomé, a longtime Home Depot executive who had been passed over for the top job there, started 2020 in retirement. But when UPS (a company on whose board she’d sat since 2003) came calling, Tomé readily reentered corporate life. Wall Street likes her leadership: Shares of the logistics giant have doubled since she took over last June, and the company proved to be a lifeline for essential household goods during coronavirus stay-at-home orders.
Julie Wainwright • 64 Founder and CEO, The RealReal
Once the CEO of dot-com bubble casualty Pets.com (she shut it down in 2000 the same day her husband asked for a divorce), Wainwright started over again in 2011 at age 53 with luxury-goods consignment shop The RealReal. She took the secondhand marketplace public in 2019; the company, which has $300 million in sales (trailing 12 months), is now worth $1.3 billion.
Cathie Wood • 65 CEO, Ark Invest
A star stock picker, Wood founded Ark Invest in 2014 at age 58; her hedge fund now has $29 billion in assets. Known for her bold predictions (Bitcoin will one day hit $500,000, she maintains), Wood is one of Tesla’s biggest boosters—she invested in the electric-vehicle manufacturer in 2018, predicting then that its stock would hit $4,000. It reached that number in January, two years before she expected it to.