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
Whitney Wolfe Herd
Her ladies-first dating app expanded into networking and now has more than 65 million users.
When Whitney Wolfe Herd launched Bumble in 2014, she aimed to invert social mores: her dating app requires women to start conversations with men. That platform has since swelled to more than 65 million users--including networking and friendship niches--with around $200 million in revenue and a reported $1 billion valuation. This year, Wolfe Herd convinced Serena Williams to join her venture arm, the Bumble Fund, as an investor and adviser; the tennis icon also starred in Bumble’s 2019 Super Bowl commercial. Wolfe Herd is trying not to be distracted by recent reports detailing sexual harassment at Bumble’s parent company, Badoo. “We assure you that we would never conduct business in a manner contradictory to our values,” she insists. In the spring, Wolfe Herd helped introduce a bill to the Texas state legislature criminalizing the transmission of sexually explicit photographs if the person receiving it has not given consent (it passed in May.) “This was an issue that many of the women on our team have dealt with firsthand,” the founder explains, “and seeing it go from concept to law [is] the moment I’m most proud of this year." --Zoë Henry