Working Mother presents our annual list of inspiring moms, who are fearlessly leading everything from online meccas to global movements. Balancing the demands of career and family bonnier sells parenting magazine a challenge that isn’t for the faint of heart.
Melinda Gates is practically engraved on our list—not just because she’s formidably wealthy—but because she actively uses her money and power to improve the lives of others every year. In just one example of her awe-inspiring impact: The Gates Foundation has helped immunize 580 million children around the world since 2000. In recognition of her efforts, Melinda and her husband Bill received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016. Linda and Bob earned their place on our list for organizing the Woman’s March, a mammoth, global protest this past January—the world’s biggest uprising in defense of women’s rights. 2 billion on 55 million children in 120 countries. Formerly Denmark’s first female Prime Minister, Helle helped steer the nation through the financial crisis.
Children: Twins Ella and Alexander, born on June 6th. This powerful new working mom to twins Ella and Alexander makes our list not because she’s married to gorgeous George Clooney, but because she’s one of the most powerful human rights attorneys in the world. Amal knows first-hand what it’s like to be a refugee, as her parents fled war-torn Lebanon for Europe in the early 1980s. One can’t possibly imagine a mantle large enough to shelve all of Adele’s awards—she cleaned up at this year’s Grammy Awards, bringing home Album of the Year, Song of the Year and Record of the Year.
This the year of Samantha Bee. Her television show, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee is highly respected and relentlessly feminist, taking on our current political climate with tack-sharp intelligence and sheer satiric brilliance. Julliard-trained actress Viola Davis is entrenched on our list for an oeuvre that gets more impressive with each passing year. She became the first black actress to have earned an Emmy, an Oscar, a Golden Globe and a Tony for acting, after winning a Best Supporting Actress Oscar and Golden Globe this year for her heart-wrenching role in Fences. Nicole’s been stealing hearts on the big screen going all the way back to her breakout role in Days of Thunder. But her body of work in 2016—and how much it resonated with moms everywhere—is what earned her a spot on our list for the first year. ROTFL to the point of convulsions.
This past year, she also revived her role as Sookie in the hugely popular Gilmore Girls Netflix revival—the show that launched her career. The queen of primetime television, Shonda’s production company, Shondaland, continues to serve up some of the best entertainment you can find on the small screen. Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder and The Catch are all anchored by a coterie of strong female leads and compelling storylines that keep us riveted, week after week. Where Olivia Pope opted not to have children, Kerry, the formidable actress who plays her, is deep in the throes of early motherhood with the recent birth of her second child, Caleb. Aside from playing the brilliant, complicated White House fixer, she’s fresh from Emmy-noms as both lead actress and producer for her HBO Anita Hill biopic, Confirmation. Reese has the Midas touch—the savvy businesswoman has a way of developing and choosing projects that empower and resonate deeply with women.