41. South Dakota - Zitkala-Ša. Born on the Yankton Indian Reservation in South Dakota, Sioux Indian Zitkala-Ša ("Red Bird") was a woman of many trades, including a writer, editor, musician, teacher and activist. Her education began at a missionary school in Wabash, Indiana. She later attended Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana for two years before becoming a violinist at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. She taught music to children for a number of years and in 1910 became the first American Indian to co-author an opera with her work on The Sun Dance Opera. Throughout the early 20th century, Zitkala-Ša published a number of collections of Native American legends, as well as autobiographical works, which were published in the Atlantic Monthly and Harper's Monthly. In the 1920s, Zitkala-Ša moved to Washington, D.C. with her husband, where she began lecturing on behalf of the Society of American Indians. In 1926, she and her husband founded the National Council of American Indians; she served as its president until her death in 1938. In 1997, the National Women's History Project designated her a Women's History Month honoree, under her missionary-given name, Gertrude Bonnin.
42. Tennessee - Pat Summitt. Last month, the legendary coach of the University of Tennessee's Lad Vols passed away, after years of battling Alzheimer's. A pioneer in women's basketball, Summitt, over her 38 years as head coach, led the Lady Vols to 16 Southeastern Conference tournament titles, 31 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances, 22 Final Fours, eight national titles (three of which were consecutive), and more wins (1,098 total) than any other Division I basketball coach, man or woman. Summitt graduated from the University of Tennessee-Martin as the school's all-time leading scorer and went on to co-captain the U.S. women's team in the 1976 Olympics, where they won silver. Eight years later at the 1984, they won gold, with Summitt as their coach. In 2000, Summitt was named the Naismisth Coach of the Century and was inducted in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Despite her diagnosis of early-onset dementia in 2011, Summitt continued fighting, both on and off the court. She coached the Lady Vols through their 2011-2012 season and then founded the Pat Summitt Foundation to raise money for Alzheimer's research. She then won the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2012 ESPY Awards and that same year, President Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Summitt was honored by numerous awards, titles and appointments for her achievements and her lifelong dedication to inspiring and supporting young women. Following her death, Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart said of Summitt: "[She] is synonymous with Tennessee, but she truly is a global icon who transcended sports and spent her entire life making a difference in other peoples' lives...she was a genuine, humble leader who focused don helping people achieve more than they thought they were capable of accomplishing."
43. Texas - Beyoncé. A trailblazer in both the music and fashion industries, Houston native Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter is a global icon so influential that there is a Wikipedia page separate from her biography dedicated solely to listing all of her awards and nominations. With 20 Grammys and 52 nominations (both as a solo artist and member of R&B group Destiny's Child), Beyoncé is the second most honored and first most nominated woman in Grammy Award history. After leaving Destiny’s Child in 2001, Beyonce went on to star in Austin Powers in Goldmember, The Fighting Temptations, The Pink Panther, and Cadillac Records. She has released six solo albums, all of which debuted at number one, making her the only artist in Billboard history to have six studio albums consecutively top the charts. In 2013, Beyonce and Jay-Z became the world’s first billion-dollar couple in the music industry and in 2014, Beyonce became the highest-paid black musician in history. With over 100 million records sold worldwide and several best-selling singles of all time worldwide, Beyonce is one of the best-selling artists of all time. In addition to being one of history’s most successful musicians, Beyonce has also more recently dedicated both her money and her public image to political causes, including Black Lives Matter.
44. Utah - Esther Peterson. Born to Swedish immigrants, women's and consumer rights advocate Esther Peterson grew up in a Mormon family in Provo, Utah and attended Brigham Young University. Peterson's career as an activist began a few years after she and her husband moved to Boston, where she worked as a prep school teacher. She became an organizer for the American Federation of Teachers in 1938, joined the Amalgamated Clothing Workers Union (ACWU) in 1939, and in 1944 became the first lobbyist for the National Labor Relations Board, travelling to D.C. to advocate for raising the minimum wage and establishing minimum work hours. After spending ten years working with the Swedish Confederation of Trade Unions and the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions in Europe, Peterson and her husband returned to the U.S. and Peterson became the AFL-CIO's first woman lobbyist. Under President Kennedy, she was appointed head of the Women's Bureau in the Department of Labor and established the President's Commission on the Status of Women. After spearheading the Equal Pay Act, Peterson turned her focus to consumer rights. As LBJ's Special Assistant for Consumer Affairs , President Carter's Director of the Office of Consumer Affairs, Giant Food Corporation's Vice President of Consumer Affairs, and president of the National Consumer League, Peterson was a leading voice for consumers, helping to create "sell before" dates on perishable food items and nutrition labels. For her work on women's and consumer rights, Peterson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1981.
45. Vermont - Mary Adelia McLeod. A native of Birmingham, Alabama, Reverend Mary Adelia McLeod was elected Bishop of the Diocese of Vermont in 1993, making her the first woman Diocesan Bishop in the Episcopal Church. The Ninth Bishop of Vermont's religious career did not begin until she was 39 years old, when she entered seminary at the School of Theology at the University of the South. She served as co-rector at an Episcopal Church in Athens, Alabama and an Episcopal Church in Charleston, West Virginia, as well as Archdeacon for southern West Virginia before being consecrated as Vermont's Diocesan Bishop. In her last year as Bishop of Vermont, McLeod wrote a letter and testified at the House Judiciary Committee in support of extending marriage rights to the LGBT community. She also urged greater inclusion of LGBT individuals within the Church.
46. Virginia - Maggie L. Walker. Born in Richmond, Virginia two months after the Civil War ended, Maggie Walker was the daughter of a widow, a former slave who served as a spy for the Union during the war. When she was just 14 years old, Walker joined the Independent Order of St. Luke (IOSL) a burial society and fraternal order dedicated to the economic and social support of African Americans in Richmond. After being nominated to serve as the IOSL's Right Worthy Grand Secretary Treasurer, Walker founded the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank in 1903, becoming the first African American woman in U.S. history to charter a bank and serve as its president. During the Great Depression, Walker merged her bank with two other black-owned banks to create the Consolidated Bank & Trust, which survived the Depression. In addition to being an entrepreneur, Walker was also an ardent social activist. She served on the boards of the NAACP, the Council of Colored Women, Federation of Women’s Clubs, National Association of Colored Women and the National Association of Wage Earners. In 1978, the government made Walker's Richmond home, a social and political hub for African Americans throughout her lifetime, a National Historic Site.47. Washington - Velma Veloria. Serving from 1992 - 2004, labor activist Velma Veloria was the first Filipino American and the first Asian American woman to be elected to the Washington State Legislature. Veloria's activism began in college, when she participated in Asian American student anti-war movements at San Francisco State University. After graduating, she travelled to the Philippines and upon her return, she joined the Union of Democratic Filipinos (KDP) to voice her opposition to Filipino leader Ferdinand Marcos and the U.S.'s support of his dictatorship. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Veloria remained committed to activism: she worked as an organizer for the Office of Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU), the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 37, and the Service Employees' International Union (SEIU). Veloria helped keep Local 37 alive after its two leaders were assassinated in 1981. Her political career began when the KDP dissolved and she took a job as the Legislative Assistant to State Representative Art Wang. As a legislator, Veloria advocated for affordable housing, workers' rights and racial justice. Veloria currently serves as the community outreach coordinator at the Equity and Education Coalition and as the co-chair of the University of Washington's Women's Center Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force.
48. West Virginia - Maria Gunnoe. The Goldman Environmental Prize "is the world's largest award recognizing grassroots environmental activists" and it goes to just six individuals per year (one from each continental region). In 2009, North America's recipient was Maria Gunnoe, a native of Boone County, West Virginia and an ardent activist fighting mountaintop removal mining. Gunnoe was also awarded the University of Michigan Wallenberg Medal for humanitarian leadership in 2012 and the Joe A. Callaway Award for Civic Courage. Though Gunnoe is frequently threatened and intimidated by members and supporters of the coal mining industry, as a member of the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, she continues to train and educate community members on the environmental dangers of mountaintop removal.49. Wisconsin - Tammy Baldwin. Born and raised in Wisconsin, UW Madison Law alum Tammy Baldwin is the state's first woman to serve in the U.S. Senate, as well as the country's first openly gay member of the Senate. Prior to becoming a senator, Baldwin served four terms on the Dane County Board of Supervisors, three terms as a Wisconsin State Representative and seven terms as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. During her time in the House, Baldwin was a leader in helping to draft the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, particularly the provision allowing young adults to remain on their parents' insurance plans until the age of 26.She currently serves on the Senate Budget Committee, the Senate Appropriations Committee, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, and the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Baldwin is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, her voting records "place her among top liberals" In 2007, she received a grade of 100 from the League of Women Voters.
50. Wyoming - Nellie Tayloe Ross. A teacher by trade, Nellie Tayloe Ross's foray into politics was not planned: a month before the 1924 gubernatorial election in Wyoming, Ross's husband, the incumbent, died. Despite advice from her family and friends to not bother running in a historically Republican state, Democrat Ross decided to honor her husband and successfully defeated the Republican candidate to become not only Wyoming's first woman governor, but the nation's first woman governor. It was only fitting that the historic moment should take place in the first state to grant women's right to vote. Although she lost reelection two years later, Ross continued to work in politics, campaigning for Al Smith's presidential run. The influence and fame she garnered during her short tenure as governor earned her the job as the director of the Women's Division of the Democratic National Committee in 1926. In 1933, Ross shattered another glass ceiling when FDR appointed her director of the U.S. Mint, a position that had previously only been held by men.
But wait...there's more!
51. Washington, D.C. - Madeleine Albright. As the first woman to serve as the United States secretary of state, Madeleine Albright is no stranger to breaking glass ceilings and in fact, she made headlines last week at the Democratic National Convention when she continued to kill the brooch game with a shattered glass ceiling pin worn in support of the country's first female presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton. Born in the former Czechoslovakia, Albright and her family fled the Nazi-occupied territory in 1939 and eventually settled in the U.S. After receiving a bachelor's degree from Wellesley and both a master's and PhD from Columbia, Albright began working for Jimmy Carter's national security advisor in 1976. After several years of teaching at Georgetown, Albright was appointed by President Clinton to serve as the U.S. ambassador to the UN. Four years later, the Senate unanimously confirmed her as secretary of state. Since leaving the government, she has written numerous books, founded a consulting firm and been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
52. Puerto Rico - Sonia Sotomayor. A Native of the Bronx and daughter of Puerto Rican-born parents, Sonia Sotomayer smashed one of the largest glass ceilings for women in the law in 2009, when her nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court was confirmed and she became the first justice of Hispanic heritage and the third woman to serve on the highest bench. A graduate of Princeton University (where she attended on a full ride) and Yale Law School, Sotomayor has received over ten honorary degrees, including one from the University of Puerto Rico. Prior to serving on the Supreme Court, she worked as an assistant district attorney in New York and then as an associate at Pavia & Harcourt. She served on the boards of the State of New York Mortgage Agency and Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, as well as the New York City Campaign Finance Board. President George H.W. Bush appointed Sotomayor to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in 1991 and President Clinton appointed her to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in 1997. A reliable member of the informal liberal bloc, Sotomayor is considered by many to be the most liberal member of the current bench and among the most liberal of modern (FDR to Obama) Supreme Court justices. While the public tends to know little about the personal lives of most Supreme Court justices, the outspoken Sotomayor has made a point to appear at a number of public, extrajudicial events, from interviews with Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, to throwing the first pitch at a New York Yankees game and attending the Time Square New Year's Eve ball drop, giving her the potential to be what law professor David Fontana calls the "people's justice."