It’s been an amazing year for women and an amazing year for us here at NextTribe. So we put the two of them together and—like chocolate and peanut butter—came up with something extra good. We are proud to present the first ever Our Own Women of the Year. We crowd-sourced and researched to develop this list of amazing women who are Aging Boldly and making major waves in their respective fields. We’re saying every form of “Congrats,” “Huzzah,” and “You go, girl” to these remarkable and inspiring women. Take a peek and tell us who we missed as Women of the Year.
HERE'S WHY: The former acting attorney general’s testimony on Flynn, Russia, the travel ban, and Trump was a tour de force of honor and passion. She continues to speak truth to power.
HERE'S WHY: She hilariously voices her views in the male-dominated world of political pundits and calls them out like no one else on the late-night circuit. If you haven’t seen her post-Weinstein “Penis PSA,” watch it now.
HERE'S WHY: A mover and shaker in the French New Wave cinema scene of the 1960s, she’s pursued her art and this year is on the shortlist for a Best Documentary Oscar nod with Faces Places, through which she speaks frankly on aging and life.
HERE'S WHY: She’s on the run at age 102(!), holding the record for the 100-meter dash in both the 95-99 and 100+ brackets and stars in the documentary If You're not in the Obits, Eat Breakfast.
HERE'S WHY: She’s literally out of this world, with 10 space walks to her credit. This year she concluded an incredible 665 days in the International Space Station, a U.S. record. Epic!
HERE'S WHY: The mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Cruz eloquently and unapologetically demanded to be heard and for her people to be helped after Hurricane Maria’s devastation. ¡Viva Puerto Rico!
HERE'S WHY: Shugarman has been in the trenches of raising environmental awareness for over a decade with climatemama.com, which works to inspire and educate parents. This fall, Al Gore presented her with The Climate Reality Project’s Green Ring Award. Earth needs all the help it can get right now, and Shugarman sets a fantastic example.
Photo: Joan Beard
HERE'S WHY: With a TED2017 Talk titled, “Let’s End Ageism,” how could we not applaud activist Applewhite? She’s also the author of a blog and the book This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism. We have a feeling we’re going to appreciate her rallying cry more with every passing year.
HERE'S WHY: We love the celebs who lit the match to the #metoo movement, but credit goes to Burke for cultivating the first spark when she created the hashtag a decade ago as a way to give voice to the prevalence of sexual violence and support other victims. Brava, Burke!
HERE'S WHY: Who doesn’t have a girl crush on the Notorious RBG? She is stalwart on the court, advocates for women’s rights at every turn, has a great sense of humor (and style), and works out with a trainer regularly.
HERE'S WHY: This university professor started her Accidental Icon blog a few years ago and is now an internationally acclaimed model and fashion influencer. She encourages her followers to be “increasingly experimental”—count us in.
HERE'S WHY: “Disturbing,” “challenging” and “unrelenting” are the words art critics use to describe Walker’s intense art, which explores the dark legacy of slavery. Her show this fall in NYC was a sensation, triggering throngs of visitors, rave reviews—and much dialog about race in America.
HERE'S WHY: With her just-released book Future Home of the Living God—which is rich in feminist thought—Erdrich, a Native American, continues her legacy of powerful and well-loved books. More reasons to be a fan: She’s also an environmental activist and bookstore owner.
Bonus Women of the Year (Because we just can’t stop)
We have to cheer on the bold African-American women—whether young, midlife or beyond—who turned out in force for the Alabama senatorial vote this month. At least 96 percent of the state’s black females voted for the Democratic candidate Doug Jones, pushing him into office over Roy Moore, an accused sexual predator. They made their voices heard in record numbers and truly changed the course of history that night in what was a nail-bitingly close race. High-fives all around!
Since NextTribe is based in Texas, we wanted to honor our Texas roots with a shout-out to the talented, fearless, and dynamic Sherry Wagner, 81. A passionate reader and writer (she established her first library at age 12, and has won multiple awards as an author), she recently donated her 3,700-volume personal library so others can share in her curated collection. Did we mention she has been a planner and development leader for San Antonio’s River Walk, our favorite park, as well as the Dallas Arts District? Or that she has served as consultant to more than 45 cultural institutions? Now we have. Sherry, you are a treasure.
Bold-Faced Lives We Lost
These three women embraced the Age Boldly ethos long before we ever articulated it and were true icons. They died in 2017, but may their legacies live on.
Jane Juska, 84
Have you read A Round-Heeled Woman: My Late-Life Adventures in Sex and Romance? It’s the book by author and writing teacher Juska that received excellent reviews, catapulted her onto Oprah, and let readers “of a certain age” know that craving and having lots of sex and romance were 110 percent acceptable.
Liz Smith, 94
One of the most prominent gossip columnists—or celebrity journalist, as we’d now say—of her generation, Smith was known for her friendly and upbeat portrayal of stars, giving her readers some good escapist glamour.
Mary Tyler Moore, 80
TV’s trail-blazing career girl, Mary Richards, won this spunky actress widespread fame, four Emmy Awards, and the admiration and adulation of pretty much every American woman who turned on a TV in the ‘70s. Moore had plenty of other TV and big-screen credits (she was nominated for an Oscar for Ordinary People), but the Minneapolis single lady is the one who once and forever captured the determination and exuberance of a ground-breaking generation.