Her software has helped social workers approve foster and adoptive families for thousands of children.
Felicia Curcuru knew early on that starting her own company was never a question of if, but of when. After honing her business chops with stints at McKinsey and FundersClub, an online venture capital firm, she co-founded Binti in 2014. The San Francisco company provides software tools that help social workers and government agencies evaluate families going through an adoption process. Instead of filling out huge stacks of paper forms, families can use Binti to submit their applications online, making it easier for social workers to review them. Last year, Binti began partnerships with agencies outside of California, where it is up and running in 36 out of 58 counties. Now 78 agencies across 12 states use the tools. Since 2016, Binti has helped more than 15,000 families win approval to foster or adopt a child. Curcuru says: “Our mission is to help every child have a family.” --Guadalupe Gonzalez
Non-violent offenders under community supervision can use her app to keep track of court dates and stay out of jail.
After a career in startups and the music industry—one job was helping Prince secure his digital rights—Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins saw a loved one go through a complex and harrowing experience after missing a court date. He had bounty-hunters after him mainly because he didn’t know who to call to reschedule his appearance. Ellis-Lamkins teamed up with longtime lawyer Diana Frappier to remedy a flawed system that saw nonviolent offenders pay fines and await trial behind bars because they couldn’t afford bail or a lawyer. They called it Promise; its pitch was to take over parts of the local criminal-justice apparatus and provide individuals with an app and automated check-in process that keeps track of court dates and paperwork. Before even graduating from startup incubator Y Combinator in 2018, this audacious little company had raised $3 million in funding from the likes of Jay-Z’s Roc Nation and First Round Capital. Recently it has been working with Alameda County in California, as well as localities in Kentucky and North Dakota, and appearance rates--essentially, showing up when you’re supposed to in court--have increased by nearly 25 percent. “The system is fundamentally broken based on race and class,” Ellis-Lamkins says. She’s aiming to even the field, and help fix a system that penalizes those without means. --Christine Lagorio-Chafkin
Dr. Emily Feistritzer
She’s making it easier to be a better teacher.
Emily Feistritzer, a 78-year-old former nun, learned as far back as the 1970s that she didn’t like traditional teaching methods, like talking at students as if she were the expert, and organizing learning around planned lessons. A more collaborative approach, she came to believe, was far better. She founded two education foundations that sought to conduct and distribute the most up-to-date research in the field, and, in 2011, she founded Teach-Now, which trains and certifies teachers online. “We focus on preparing tomorrow's teachers for tomorrow's learning world,” she says. “so that the program will never be old.” This year the Washington, D.C.-based Teach-Now started offering master's certifications targeted at programs that are growing quickly, such as early childhood, multilingual, and special needs education. Since its founding, Teach-Now has enrolled 4,000 aspiring teachers in 125 countries. “I owe everything to my mother,” says Feistritzer. But of course she does: “She was a teacher.” --Anna Meyer
Her health-technology platform puts mothers first.
“When I was younger, I swore that I was never going to work in this field,” says Melissa Hanna. “I didn’t want to work in my mother’s shadow.” That’s understandable: Linda Hanna pioneered the world-class maternity programs at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and Kaiser Permanente. But once there was an opportunity to “digitize her work,” says Hanna, they knew they could fundamentally change the structure of health care in this country. Mahmee, recently backed by Mark Cuban and Serena Williams, describes itself as a "data-driven maternal and infant health tech company”; it pulls a mother and her baby’s health records together so the burden isn’t on them to keep physicians on the same page about their care. Families get a personalized dashboard, and physicians can identify critical-care issues like post-partum depression sooner. Says Hanna: “We become that trusted resource where moms can let us know what’s going on.” --Jill Krasny
She's one of the few female founders in tech who's taken her company public.
Julia Hartz has had a rollercoaster ride of a year. In September 2018, the co-founder and CEO of ticketing platform Eventbrite took her company public in a wildly successful IPO that raised more than $240 million and valued her company at $1.75 billion. Last year, the company helped about 800,000 creators produce nearly four million events across 170 countries. Its market cap had soared to more than $2.4 billion when its momentum abruptly halted in March: Eventbrite missed Wall Street’s earnings estimate in its first quarterly report. “That’s a straightforward thing for the company to understand,” says a matter-of-fact Hartz. For her and her company, being public means getting back to basics. “We’ve almost rediscovered our founding DNA,” she says. “That’s been a great springboard for us.” --Guadalupe Gonzalez