Before you scroll through our list of 12 Women of the Year, we want to preempt the inevitable question: How come Kamala didn’t make the cut? Oh, she made the cut all right; she’s a cut above. Not to take anything from the women we’ve chosen, but Kamala’s star is so bright, her badassery so obvious, we wanted to give someone else a little love here.
At the same time, it seems a bit absurd to only pick 12 women. Truly, we could have named every nurse, doctor, first responder, teacher, supermarket worker, liquor store clerk, and on and on. So many selflessly kept our world ticking, and we wish we could give them all proper recognition.
But we’ve done our best here, choosing women who have given us something to cheer about in an otherwise crappy year. Brava to all 12 Women of the Year.
Because she is a comic genius and brings great depth to her characters. In our minds, Moria Rose, the persona she created for the hit series Schitt’s Creek, elevates O’Hara to the level of modern-day Lucille Ball. Yes, Moira Rose can be ridiculous and vainglorious, but she is not just that. She has layers, meaning she can be surprisingly warm, tender, and graceful. And funny, always funny. O’Hara won an Emmy for the role this year, but she’d already won our hearts years ago.
Because Dolly has been wowing us with her creativity and generosity all year. She had a new documentary of her life out plus a holiday movie for Netflix called Christmas on the Square. But her greatest achievements this year didn’t have to do with her musical or acting talents, they were related to saving lives. Last spring, she invested $1 million investment in a COVID vaccine from Moderna, which was just approved. It was recently reported that Dolly pulled a 9-year-old out of the way of an on-coming car. Dolly hugged her and joked: “Well, I’m an angel, you know.” Yes, we do know.
Because the shelter she runs welcomes displaced immigrants and has become a model for shelters around the country. Since 1998, Long has been the director of Casa Marianella in Austin, Texas, which promotes immigrants’ self-sufficiency by providing an array of support services. Multiple shelters in renovated houses in residential neighborhoods serve this community, with two of them dedicated for women and children escaping violence. Those who nominated her say “her capacity for kindness and grace” is unsurpassed.
Because she is dragging menopause out from the shadows and offering real comfort and advice to women going through it. Angelo is the co-founder of Gennev, a company that offers products to make the menopausal transition easier, tons of articles about various facets of menopause, and, starting 18 months ago, tele-health support so that women can actually speak to doctors or coaches to get personalized help. As Gennev grows, Angelo is getting the recognition she deserves for addressing a too-often overlooked market. Most recently, INC. magazine named her to a list of top 100 female founders.
Because she’s who we all should want to be when we grow up. After a grand career in journalism–including 25 years as a contributing editor on the plastic surgery beat at Allure–and many books, Kron began making films. She was in her late 80s when she launched her new career. The result is the film Take My Nose…Please! about plastic surgery among female comedians. And she’s working on another, due out in 2022. We love that even now at age 92, she keeps a challenge in front of her. What a way to live!
Because she’s using her position as the Attorney General of New York State to take on injustice and corruption. In her second year as the top law enforcement official in New York, James has battled the federal government on everything from environmental regulations to its handling of the census. This year, she’s been involved in litigation over Postal Service slowdowns and against Facebook. She’s also been at the forefront of legal action against the Trump Organization. Her office’s years-long probe into Trump’s charitable foundation led to its dissolution.
Because she is committed to share the fortune that came to her. Scott, the ex-wife of Jeff Bezos, has given away more than $4.2 billion this year (no strings attached) to organizations that directly deal with the pandemic and to colleges that serve minorities. And she’s only just begun to give away her estimated $62 billion divorce settlement. Vanity Fair calls her generosity the ultimate “fuck you” to her ex. “She got even by doing what he does not: sharing his unbelievable, unconscionable, indescribable wealth with those he makes his money off of, i.e. everyone else in the world.”
Because she is a leading voice for civil rights, women’s rights, and social justice. In a year when racial injustice rightfully was one of the two major news stories, Campbell’s work as head of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation is more important than ever. Campbell has served as an advisor to U. S. presidents and business leaders on critical issues impacting Black America. This year Campbell spent three weeks in an ICU battling COVID and is lobbying the incoming Biden administration to do more for communities of color, which are more impacted by the virus.
Because she is making music that makes a difference. Hickman, an Austin-based singer-songwriter, has been a friend of NextTribe for years. But for even longer than that, she’s been a friend to those who need uplifting and hope. A former state musician of Texas, Hickman is known for various fund-raising efforts, and this year she seems to have topped herself. She recruited more than 30 other musicians to remake the Rolling Stones song, Salt of the Earth, with new words to express gratitude for those working on the frontlines of the pandemic. Sing it Sara!
Because she spoke truth to power in a very public way. We were gobsmacked by the audacity of Savannah Guthrie during her interview with President Trump in October. She may look like a push over, but she didn’t act like one (wish we could say the same for other journalists over the past four years). She did real-time fact-checking and offered this memorable scolding of Trump for re-tweeting an obviously bogus conspiracy claim: “You’re not like someone’s crazy uncle who can just retweet whatever.”
Because her crusade to prevent voter suppression helped boost voter registration in Georgia. Abrams has had a fascinating career as a politician, an organizer, and an author. After claiming that voter suppression and irregularities were at the root of her 2018 loss for the Georgia governorship, she was resolved that 2020 would be different. And it was. Her organization, Fair Fight, signed up an estimated 800,000 new voters, which helped turn the state blue. We can’t wait to see what she does next.
Because she encourages women to take up more space through her paintings of powerful female leaders. Beginning with a series of oil portraits of women in the public eye, Duryea created a line of products that allow women to wear their boldness on their sleeve…or bodice…or wherever. Pairing her activism with her brand, Duryea helps women running for office by painting their portraits and fundraising for them. She has also launched a project to get more diverse faces in schools, starting with donations of her Harriet Tubman painting to teachers.