31. New Mexico - Paula Gunn Allen. American Indian poet and scholar, Paula Gunn Allen was a "foremost voice in Native American literature" and a "founding mother of the contemporary women's spirituality movement." Born and raised in New Mexico, Allen left the state to study English (B.A., 1966) and creative writing (M.F.A., 1968) at the University of Oregon, Eugene. She then received a Ph.D. in American studies from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. Prior to joining UCLA's American Indian Center, Allen taught English, creative writing, and Native American studies at Fort Lewis College, the College of San Mateo, San Diego State, the University of New Mexico, and UC Berkeley. During her life, Allen won numerous awards, including postdoctoral fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the national Research Council, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers' Circle of the Americas, the Hubbell Medal for Lifetime Achievement in American Literary Studies from the Modern Language Association, the Native American Prize for Literature, and a Lannan Foundation Fellowship. A multi-talented and prolific writer and editor, Allen published six volumes of poetry, several anthologies on Native American literature, a novel inspired by tribal mythology, and many short stories.
32. New York - Janet Yellen. New York native Janet Yellen is currently the chair of the Federal Reserve, the first woman to hold the position. Valedictorian at her high school, Yellen went on to study economics at Brown and then Yale, where she was the only woman in her Ph.D. class. Yellen has been a professor at Harvard, the London School of Economics, and UC Berkeley. Prior to her appointment as chair of the Federal Reserve, she served as president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, vice chair of the Board of Governors, president of the Western Economics Association, and vice president of the American Economic Association. In 2015, Forbes named Yellen the fourth most powerful woman in the world and the seventh most powerful person in the world.
33. North Carolina - Loretta Lynch. Born in Greensboro, Loretta Lynch is the great-great granddaughter of North Carolina slaves, the granddaughter of a sharecropper, and the daughter of a civil rights leader and pastor. After receiving a B.A. in English and literature and a J.D. from Harvard, she began working in the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York, in Brooklyn. Soon after, President Clinton nominated her to serve as U.S. Attorney. During her nine years in private practice, Lynch did considerable pro bono work for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. In November 2014, President Obama nominated her to serve as the U.S. Attorney General. In April 2015, she was confirmed by the Senate and became the first black woman and only the second woman to hold the post. Announcing her nomination, President Obama said of Lynch, "[she] might be the only lawyer in America who battles mobsters and drug lords and terrorists, and still has a reputation for being a charming people person...[she] doesn't look to make headlines, she looks to make a difference."
34. North Dakota - Twila Martin Kekahbah. Member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, Twila Martin Kekahbah has spent her career advocating for women and American Indians. In addition to being the first woman to be elected head of the Tribal Government for the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, Kekahbah has also served in the following positions: Director of Turtle Mountain Community College, Director of Tribal Analytic Institute at United Tribes Technical College, Policy Analyst for the National Indian Health Board, Community Liaison for the Northwest Area Foundation, and President of the Board for the Housing Assistance Council. She is a member of UND Indians Into Medicine, Rural Development Leadership Network, Native People Cancer Control, and Native Elders Research Committee. Kekahbah was a panelist for the Office of Women's Health Minority Women's Health Panel and a partner in a women-owned business consulting company for North Dakota tribes.
35. Ohio - Grandma Gatewood. Born Emma Gatewood, legendary Grandma Gatewood was the first woman to hike the entire Appalachian Trail solo. According to the Washington Post, she was 67 years old when she started the hike, with 11 children and 23 grandchildren. Gatewood hiked the trail again in 1957, two years after her first thru-hike and in 1964, she became the first person to ever complete the Appalachian Trail three times. The Trail's website notes that she was "famous for wearing only 'Keds' tennis shoes and carrying a small knapsack." Following her first two hikes through the AT, Gatewood helped found the Buckeye Trail in her home-state of Ohio. According to Gatewood's daughter Lucy, "the fact that no woman had yet hiked the trail presented a challenge" to Gatewood, who had a history of perseverance and survival: for 30 years, Gatewood was physically abused by her husband, who nearly killed her one night during a fight that resulted in her, rather than her husband's, arrest. Though it was extremely rare at the time, Gatewood was able to get a divorce and raise her three kids alone, all the while inspiring new hikers and invaluable restorations to the AT with her courageous hikes.
36. Oklahoma - Juanita Stout. Though most of her life was spent as a Philadelphia lawyer and judge, Juanita Stout began her career as a music teacher in Oklahoma. According to her New York Times obituary, Stout learned to read when she was three years old and started college at the age of sixteen, which might explain why she was such a staunch advocate for education, often lecturing law students and criminal defendants alike on the importance of good schooling. Stout attributed her own legal career to her high school education, specifically a shorthand class that gave her the skills to land a job taking legal dictation at a Washington law firm. Working her way up from stenographer to administrative assistant, to private practice attorney, to the District Attorney's office, Stout was eventually appointed to the Philadelphia Municipal Court. Her election to the court made her the first black woman elected to any judgeship in the United States. In 1988, she became the first black woman in the U.S. to serve on a state's highest court when she was appointed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. In 2012, the Philadelphia City Council renamed its Criminal Justice Center the Justice Juanita Kidd Stout Center for Criminal Justice.
37. Oregon - Andrea Durbin. Northwest native Andrea Durbin is currently the Executive Director of the Oregon Environmental Council and has a long list of achievements proving that she is fit for the job: Durbin was included as one of the Portland Monthly's "Portland's 50 Most Influential People," one of the Pacific Northwest's Pivotal Leaders, and one of Portland Business Journal's "Fabulous Under 40." She is a member of the Oregon Global Warming Commission and the US Climate Action Network, and in 2013, she spoke at the Environmental Summit with the Dalai Lama.
38. Pennsylvania - The Women who Programmed ENIAC. In 1954, the U.S. Army hired six women studying math at the University of Pennsylvania - Kathleen Antonelli, Ruth Teitelbaum, Jean Bartik, Frances Spence, Marlyn Meltzer, and Betty Holberton - to work on a secret government project: the world's first all-electronic, digital computer, the Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer, better known as ENIAC. Considered manual operators, because the title of "programmers" as we know it now did not yet exist, much of the credit for ENIAC's creation went to its two male designers, John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert, rather than the women. With no programming languages or manuals, the women constructed a machine that, in a matter of seconds, could calculate an artillery firing table that would take a single person 40 hours to complete. Nonetheless, Betty Holberton recalled that none of them were invited to a celebration dinner the night that ENIAC was unveiled to the public. The six women went 50 years without recognition for their immense accomplishment, until a computer programmer named Kathryn Kleiman discovered their story while studying at Harvard. As the number of women in tech continues to drop, Kleiman is working to spread the ENIAC programmer's legacy, through a documentary called The Computers, and to collaborate with fellow women in the world of technology to bring their numbers back up.
39. Rhode Island - Viola Davis. Named by Time as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2012, actress Viola Davis's long list of awards signifies her remarkable success in Hollywood. Davis has won a SAG Award, a Primetime Emmy Award, two Tony Awards, a Drama Desk Award, the Women in Film's Crystal Award, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, as well as multiple Golden Globe, SAG, BAFTA, and Academy Award nominations. Born in South Carolina and raised in Rhode Island, Davis grew up in poverty but eventually graduated from the Juilliard School. Upon winning the Emmy for Best Actress in 2015 for her role in How to Get Away with Murder, Davis became the first black woman to take home the award. Including in her acceptance speech a quote from Harriet Tubman, Davis used her win as an opportunity to advocate for greater diversity in Hollywood, a barrier that she continues to overcome with every new role and nomination.
40. South Carolina - Sylvia Woods. Founder of New York institution Sylvia's in Harlem, restaurateur Sylvia Woods was known as the "Queen of Soul Food." Before dining critic Gael Greene gave her that title, Woods was a waitress at Andrew Johnson's Luncheonette. The owner of Johnson's sold Woods his business in 1962 and the rest was history. Famous for its ribs, cornbread, and fried chicken, Sylvia's was, and still is, one of the few places in New York City where class ceases to exist; tourists, locals, Wall Street executives and celebrities alike frequent the family-operated restaurant. Quincy Jones, Wesley Snipes, Bill Clinton, Diana Ross, Muhammad Ali, Robert Kennedy, Aretha Franklin, Natalie Cole, and Mayors David Dinkin and Mike Bloomberg have all dined at Sylvia's. Since it's opening, Sylvia's has expanded to a catering service, a banquet hall, and a nationally-sold line of prepared soul food dishes. A few days after her passing, Mayor Bloomberg presented Woods' family friend with an award commemorating the restaurant's 50th anniversary.