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2023 Women of the Year: Those Who Made it All More Bearable

It’s a mad, mad, mad world out there. Especially this year. Here are 15 women who are kicking butt and helping to set things right.

It’s a mad, mad, mad world out there. Especially this year. Here are 15 women who are kicking butt and helping to set things right.

Every December we have the honor and pleasure of going back through the year to find the women who have made news, made leaps forward, or made our hearts swell. The task reminds of us of what went right over the past months when so much went wrong—non-stop political divisions, terrorism and a heightened conflict in the Middle East, a continuing war in Ukraine, global scorching, the continued assault on women’s reproductive rights. 

So here are our 2023 Women of the Year—a musician, a model, two actresses, a designer, an artist, a stylist, a photographer, a conservationist, a commercial fishing captain, two authors, a district attorney, a community organizer, athlete—just a small sampling of what makes women at this stage of life so impactful, influential, and bold!

Click through the photos below (using the red arrows) to see who we’re honoring. 

Architect, Fashion Designer, Philanthropist

Azin Valy

Azin Valy has put her architectural training to work in the fashion realm, under the label Cityzen. Her scarves, dresses, accessories feature aerial topography images of cities from around the world, visually stamping stylish, otherworldly-looking maps that wend their way around the body and offer double duty, “leveraging fashion for social impact.” Many of her pieces help raise awareness for, as well as philanthropic aid to, citizens of those respective cities, including victims of political abuse and violence hailing from her homeland of Iran.

Music Legend

Bonnie Raitt

In February, Bonnie Raitt was up against the hottest singers in the world: Beyonce. Adele. Taylor Swift. Harry Styles, for God’s sake. But proving that sometimes there’s no substitute for experience, 73-year-old Bonnie Raitt took home the coveted prize for Song of the Year at the Grammy Awards. She was an inspiration to us all.

Marathon Swimmer, Inspiration

Diana Nyad

This year, the world became more aware of how incredible, grueling and triumphant Diana Nyad’s swim from Cuba to the Florida Keys was. Even if we had heard about the feat when it happened in 2013, the movie Nyad–with Annette Bening playing Nayd–demonstrated the true magnitude. It took 52 hours and 54 minutes in the water and five attempts over 35 years to complete. That is persistence on an epic scale.

Author, Victorious Plaintiff

E. Jean Carroll

E. Jean Carroll was well known in the magazine world for her sassy, wise advice column in Elle Magazine. But clearly she doesn’t just talk the talk. She is a living, breathing example of how to face your demons, seek justice, and hold your head up high. To date, she is one of the few people who have won a case against Trump, seeking amends for not only his sexual assault of her years ago in a department store dressing room, but also for the lies and slander he spread about her. Her win was truly breathtaking. We’re proud that she was a speaker at one of our Out Loud events.

District Attorney

Fani T. Willis

It takes guts to go toe-to-toe with the MAGA machine, but Fani T. Willis, the district attorney of Fulton County, which covers most of Atlanta, is known to have some steel in her bones. In her short tenure in her post, she’s gone after non-mobsters using racketeering charges that prosecutors often use to bring down organized crime. Now, she’s using those charges against Trump and 18 co-conspirators. Of all of the cases against Trump, many believe the Georgia case may be the most effective, since she’s already gotten some key co-conspirators to cooperate with her office.


Kris Tompkins

Kris Tompkins, one of the co-founders of North Face, was the subject of a moving National Geographic documentary released in 2023 called Wild Life. Though the movie is billed as a love story between Doug and Kris Tompkins, who separately rose to the top of the corporate world then left that all behind to devote themselves to environmental philanthropy in Chile, it’s actually an extraordinary portrait of a woman at the top of her game who isn’t afraid to flex her muscles. After Doug’s death, she pushed to ensure that the couple’s shared vision was completed, by donating 1 million acres they owned in Patagonia to the government of Chile, and she continues to work tirelessly to protect wild lands.

Sea Captain, Reality TV Star

Linda Greenlaw

Linda Greenlaw, the only female sword-fishing boat captain on the East Coast and a bestselling author, first rose to prominence in the 1997 book The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger, which showed her courage efforts to warn the crew of the Andrea Gail. (Actress Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio played her in the film.) This year, the legendary captain joined Discovery’s Deadliest Catch, an exciting series that follows the adventures of some of the world’s greatest fishermen in troubling situations at sea. We love that she is showing the world how a woman, an older woman at that, can navigate her way through a distinctly man’s world.

Political Provocatuer

Nina Burleigh

Nina Burleigh is a journalist, best-selling author, documentary producer, and publisher of a substack on politics called American Freakshow. Her weekly musings on the outrageous state of our political landscape help us keep eyes on the facts, to remember where we started and how we got here. “My journalism and books have been inspired by curiosity about one theme: the tension between science and religion, between reality and conspiracy theories, that has so vexed our technologically advanced world,” says Nina. “It is for people of all political persuasions who resist normalizing corruption and incivility.”

Actress, Role Model

Pamela Anderson

Back in the heyday of Pamela Anderson’s stardom, it might have been easy to dismiss her as some kind of  Marilyn Monroe-clone. Today, she has proved herself far from that. In her Netflix documentary, Pamela, a Love Story, we get to see her as a real and relatable woman who has had struggles and setbacks like all of us. She has risen even further in our esteem by taking the unusual step of appearing regularly in public without makeup–defying the idea that women our age need to cling to every shred of our youthful looks.

Jump Roper, Community Builder

Pamela Robinson

Chicagoan Pamela Robinson says that when she was a child, the jump rope game double Dutch was her “happy place.” In 2016, she found herself in a spot–divorce, depression–where she needed to return to that happy place. She founded Double Dutch 40+ and since then has provided happy places for hundreds of women around the country. Bravo to Robinson because we too believe there’s nothing more therapeutic than play!

Author, Anti-Ageism Agent

Paulina Porizkova

She may be best known as a model and wife of a rock star, but Paulina Porizkova has become just as revered for the truth telling she does on her Instagram account, which has about a million followers. Porizkova strives to show the reality of aging by posting unvarnished and emotional photos and videos. Amidst a sea of highly curated images of everyone’s perfect lives, Porizkova’s openness has endeared her to others. We also got a peek at her vulnerabilities in her aptly titled book of essays, No Filter. 

Actress, Ambassador

Selma Blair

Blair was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2018 at the age of 46. Since then, she has demonstrated to the world what people with disabilities are capable of. She’s embraced disability activism by working with the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America and the American Association of People with Disabilities–hoping to counteract bias and the dismissal of those with disabilities. “If we’re lucky enough, we all know we’re all going to be in some form of disability or needing someone,” she says, referring to the aging process. “So let’s break that down now, and enjoy what everybody who’s lived a long time can offer us, because it does get better as it gets worse.”

Stylist, Model Agency Owner

Stephanie O'Dell

We loved Stephanie O’Dell when she created a modeling agency called Celebrate the Gray, which exclusively features authentic-looking gray-haired women over 50. We love her even more, now that she is pushing even harder to make sure  women our age are represented in advertising and marketing. O’Dell, a fashion stylist, is working to bring together leaders in the pro-aging movement so we can make a more impactful effort. We are thrilled to participate.

Psychotherapist, Photographer

Susie Lang

Susie Lang specializes in taking portraits of women our age. Fueled by a desire to counter the invisibility often imposed upon older women, her mission is to spotlight and honor this demographic, says Lang, whose other career is as a psychotherapist and they are strangely yet perfectly aligned. “I feel that my background as a psychotherapist offers a very healing space for clients to be deeply seen and heard—which is one of life’s most precious, rare gifts,” she says. “It enables me reach a deeper kind of human connection—which is especially magical during a photo session.”


Wangechi Mutu

During NextTribe’s Insider Tour of NYC in April 2023 (which we’re offering again in 2024), we all were bowled over when we visited the New Musuem to see Wangechi Mutu’s extensive solo exhibition, with more than 100 pieces on display–collages, sculptures, drawings, and film. “Human forms combined with botanical and animal life yield fluid boundaries, transmutations, and hybrid configurations,” NextTribe art critic Marcia G. Yearman wrote of her work. Those of us who witnessed the work of this native Kenyan will never forget its power.

Read More: The 100 Most Powerful Women: Almost All Are Over 45 and Busy Changing the World

By NextTribe Editors


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