Through technology, innovation, and good old-fashioned work, this remarkable group of women is making the world a better place now and for generations to come—and none of them is over 35. Impressive.
1. Yael Cohen, founder of Fuck Cancer
Yael Cohen is the Co-founder of FCancer, a cancer education organization targeted at Gen-Y to engage with their parents about early detection, preventative lifestyles, and communication around cancer. Yael launched FCancer in 2009 after her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was really her presence on social media that brought this organization to the next level. “It might be arrogant but we are the first generation with the technology to change the world,” she told Elle.
2. Annie E. Clark, Sofie Karasek and Andrea Pino, founders of End Rape on Campus
Meet the new guard of civil rights activists. Annie E. Clark, Sofie Karasek and Andrea Pino give voice and counsel to survivors of campus sexual assault all around the country. After encountering an environment at their own university that deprived sexual assault survivors of their rights under Title IX, Andrea and Annie, together with three other women, filed two federal complaints against The University of North Carolina. In the months after filing, they were contacted by hundreds of other survivors, also hoping to learn how to hold their schools accountable. Clark and Pino then began helping others learn their civil rights and consulted them in filing their own federal complaints. Karasek’s advocacy was instrumental in the passage of California’s landmark “Yes Means Yes” affirmative consent bill. Since its adoption, New York has passed its own “Enough is Enough” legislation, and similar affirmative consent standards have been introduced in other state legislatures nationwide.
3. Brit Morin, founder of Brit & Co
Morin’s start-up, Brit & Co, is the digital foundation for DIY nation. Founded in 2011, it’s a visual site like Pinterest, but instead of just looking, you’re learning how to make all those cool things through tutorials, classes, and kits. Her goal, besides making you the most impressive person at a dinner party, is to help redefine the term “maker” for the Millennial. She even wrote a book, Homemakers: A Domestic Handbook for the Digital Generation, to guide us through it. “Something I tell a lot of women who are in their late 20s is that you don’t have to have it all figured out. I think society today puts so much pressure on women and men in their 20s, specifically to find a career that is going to make you uber-successful and that aligns with your passion. To be honest, you spend the majority of your 20s just figuring out what your passion is and who you are as a person, so I don’t think it’s even common to find a career that aligns with your passion until later in life. Until then, my advice is to keep doing things that you’re passionate about and interested in and ultimately you’ll find something that you can be successful at.”
4. Adda Birnir, founder of Skillcrush
When Birnir, the founder of Skillcrush, an online tech education platform, was laid off in 2009 from her job at a digital agency, she knew she needed to make a change. At the same time, Birnir noticed that none of the technical people were losing their jobs. So, with Skillcrush, she wants you to not just take a class, but join a community of people who want to learn and help each other. Plus, you’ll walk away from Skillcrush with an online portfolio that you built—and can feature on your resume. “We’re teaching real, marketable skills and empowering women to accomplish their career, financial, and lifestyle goals. Realizing that what you’ve created is getting people jobs and changing lives is pretty amazing!” she told Levo.
5. Emilie Aries, founder and CEO of Bossed Up
Aries is the founder and CEO of Bossed Up, an innovative personal and professional training organization that helps women craft sustainable careers. Her program helps hundreds of women, mostly in their 20s, learn skills to find real success in the workplace that will carry them through the rest of their careers. They will also learn how to avoid burnout and really just live fuller lives. “I started Bossed Up because I wanted to create the program that I needed a few years earlier,” she said.
6. Alexis Jones, co-founder of I Am That Girl
Jones is the co-founder of I Am That Girl, an empowerment non-profit aimed at helping young women gain confidence so they can go out and conquer the world. Like Local Levo, I Am That Girl has local chapters all over the country (and also internationally) which Jones describes as Girl Scouts meets book club in a “Sex and the City” way. In her book, I Am That Girl, she encourages girls to embrace their uniqueness and combats gender stereotypes that are underlined in so many media portrayals. Jones told Levo, “Being an activist and part of that DNA structure that creates sustainability in activists is an emotional resilience. If I could find a cure for apathy, I would spend the rest of my life fighting for it.”
Dermalogica FITE (Financial Independence Through Entrepreneurship) helps women to start or grow a business across all industries—and so far it has helped more than 40,000 women worldwide. In her role, Byrne partners with non-profits all over the world to raise awareness and funds for the women who need it most. While speaking at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and the United Nations this year, Byrne said, “We need to focus on solutions and working together to create an ecosystem to help women entrepreneurs thrive. In many countries, women do not have access to banking systems or the ability to get an I.D. card, often leaving them dependent on others for their income and stability, as well as being faced with incredible personal challenges such as access to childcare as a single mother. It is on us to help remove these obstacles.”
8. Lauren Bush Lauren, founder of FEED
After becoming an honorary spokesperson for the UN World Food Programme in 2004 and getting a first-hand look at the global hunger epidemic, Bush Lauren was inspired to create FEED. (You may have heard of the FEED bag—or own one yourself—which the Princeton grad later created in 2006.) The idea was simple: For every FEED bag purchased, a child would not go hungry in school for an entire year. The FEED line eventually expanded to include accessories and clothing, and today it has donated more $6 million and 60 million meals all over the world. At the Forbes Women’s Summit in 2013, she said she was inspired to create FEED not only because she saw a staggering problem in the world, but because she knew many of her friends weren’t thinking about how to solve the world hunger crisis. “I wanted a way for them to get involved that is quick and tangible,” she said.
Where would the world be today without the Rent the Runway? A lot more shabbily dressed, that’s for sure. After meeting at Harvard Business School, Hyman and Fleiss came up with the idea of providing women with access to designer dresses, without having to sell the rest of their clothes to pay for it. The website officially launched in November 2009 with 160 different styles, and it has been growing at an exponential rate ever since. Dubbed the “Netflix of fashion, the company currently has more than 4 million members and 250 designer brands to choose from. It has changed the way Millennial women approach fashion and has inspired hundreds of women to start their own companies, especially in the fashion space.
10. Meredith Perry, founder of UBeam
Just shy of 26, Meredith Perry decided she was going to invent the one thing we all crave most when it comes to technology—a wireless charging system. Though there still isn’t a lot out there on what Mark Cuban dubbed a “zillion dollar idea,” it will be a game changer. “There may be people on the Internet who don’t believe it’s true,” Perry says, but those who see it, “are converted instantly.” Convincing the world that a blonde girl with no engineering degree can come up with technology that actually works” has been challenging, she told Elle. But it’s gotta be good if Marissa Mayer invested in UBeam after 15 minutes with the woman.
Photo: FEED Projects / Facebook