Hey, it’s easy to get overwhelmed thinking about all of the big problems that need fixing in the world. With issues like bad actors preventing folks from voting and the search for news we can trust, how do we expect to react to colossal disasters, global health crises, and other really big stuff?
The deal is that sometimes the best thing to keep you moving forward is to learn from people who are already working to change the world and set things right. Fortunately, there are lots of inspiring, smart people doing great things. They are builders and thinkers, disruptors, innovators, and philanthropists.
I’ve compiled a list of some of the Top 11 social change makers who really are making the world a better place. I hope they inspire you to change the world too.
(in no particular order…)
1. Fawzia Koofi – Fawzia Koofi is an Afghan politician who has fought for women’s rights and access to education, and has worked to combat violence against women and political corruption. She’s also a candidate in next year’s Afghan presidential election.
2. Bill McKibben – Bill McKibben is leading a movement to solve the climate crisis. Bill’s an organizer, activist, and co-founder and Chairman of the Board at 350.org, a climate campaign working in 188 countries. He continues to inspire a generation of climate activists.
3. Jacqueline Novogratz – As the founder of Acumen Fund, Novogratz’s leading with a unique approach to solving global poverty. The businesses that Acumen has invested its patient capital in are providing millions of people with affordable services for healthcare, clean water and energy, and housing.
4. Bill Gates – Through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and his promotion of the Giving Pledge, Gates has led a movement of philanthropists making big bets and big commitments of wealth for social good. He’s working to eradicate polio and to improve education and global health. Not to mention that he inspires countless entrepreneurs and technologists.
5. Rangita de Silva de Alwis – Rangita de Silva de Alwis directs the Women in Public Service Project launched by Secretary Clinton and the Global Women’s Leadership Initiative at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The WPSP at the Wilson Center has now grown to affiliate with over 75 partners including government entities, academic institutes, and multilaterals around the world.
6. Ruth Messinger – Ruth Messinger is President and CEO of American Jewish World Service. Through AJWS, Messinger advocates for human rights and works to end poverty in the developing world. AJWS supports grassroots organizations around the world, and helps communities protect local resources and recover from conflict.
7. Maggie Doyne – Maggie Doyne built and leads the Kopila Valley Children’s Home and School in Surkhet, Nepal, which she founded during a year of travel after graduating high school. Doyne encourages young people to volunteer and inspires them to make service personal. She is a Do Something Award winner.
8. Malala Yousafzai – Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist for women and education. She has overcome being banned from her school, death threats, and an assassination attempt, to champion the right of all children to an education.
9. Sal Khan – Sal Khan founded the Khan Academy, whose goal is to change education for the better by providing free world-class education for anyone anywhere. Khan has produced more than 4,300 video lessons teaching a wide spectrum of academic subjects, mainly focusing on mathematics and the sciences. In 2012, Time named Salman Khan in its annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world.
10. Majora Carter – Majora Carter redefined the field of environmental equality, starting in the South Bronx. Now she’s leading the local economic development movement across the US. Carter was awarded a 2005 MacArthur “genius” grant,and advocates for eco-friendly practices (such as green and cool roofs) and, equally important, job training and green-related economic development. Carter has formed the economic consulting and planning firm, the Majora Carter Group.
11. Roya Mahboob – Roya Mahboob is an Afghan entrepreneur and businesswoman. She founded and serves as CEO of the Afghan Citadel Software Company, a full-service software development company based in Herat, Afghanistan. She has received attention for being among the first IT female CEOs in Afghanistan, where it is still relatively rare for women to work outside the home. Roya was named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People In The World for 2013 for her work in building internet classrooms in high schools in Afghanistan and for Women’s Annex, a multilingual blog and video site hosted by Film Annex.
What other change makers inspire you, and who would you add to this list?