50 Over 50: Women Stepping into Their Power in Life’s Second Half
The most successful female entrepreneur in U.S. history. A groundbreaking Silicon Valley venture capitalist. Hollywood’s most influential stage mom. The nation’s first Black female Supreme Court Justice.
Diane Hendricks, Theresia Gouw, Kris Jenner and Ketanji Brown-Jackson are (respectively) just 4 of the 200 women on the second annual 50 Over 50, but their historic achievements and barrier-breaking success after 50 are emblematic of this entire Forbes list. Produced in partnership with Mika Brzezinski and her Know Your Value initiative and first launched in 2021, the 50 Over 50 shines a light on women who are stepping into their most powerful roles in their sixth decade or later.
For many of the women on the list, their success and innovative thinking is not in spite of their age, but instead, a direct result of it. Deborah Kilpatrick, the 54-year-old co-CEO and executive chair of Evidation Health, a digital health company worth $1 billion, says that she feels more capable of running a unicorn startup now than she ever could earlier in her career: “I find it not only gives me more proverbial problem-solving arrows in my quiver, but it also allows me to more effectively use my energy,” she says.
Nicole Taylor, the 52-year-old CEO of Silicon Valley Community Foundation—the largest community foundation in the nation that, in 2021, distributed more than $2 billion in grants to 6,000 nonprofits—says her age is helping her open doors for other women, particularly women of color: “Unfortunately, as a Black woman, I’m still a rarity in philanthropic leadership and in the boardrooms of Silicon Valley. We have to address inequity in our own ranks and being over 50 gives me greater power and influence over those conversations and decisions.”
The 2022 50 Over 50 presents 200 women across four broad categories—lifestyle, entrepreneurs, impact and money—and dozens of sub-sectors. The women on this list have founded companies in industries such as manufacturing, retail and enterprise technology, and some, like 66-year-old Nobel Prize winner Frances Arnold, have even founded more than one company. Others, like Wellington Management’s Jean Hynes, who is 53, oversee billions (or, in Hynes’ case, $1.4 trillion) in assets. Others still, like the Michelin-starred 57-year-old Dominique Crenn, are changing the way we eat and drink.
In the two years since opening nominations for the 50 Over 50, we’ve received thousands of nominations from the general public, and we’ve also solicited the insight of the Forbes and Know Your Value journalists about which dynamic women are the most forward-thinking and impactful people on their beats.
As we whittled these submissions down to the final 200, we assessed the final 2022 list on five main criteria. The first: achievements after turning 50, with a particular focus on “Over 50 Firsts.” Did this person make history in ascending to her role or founding her company? The second: success at scale. Founders and CEOs of private for-profit companies must drive a minimum of $10 million in annual revenue, while those leading publicly traded companies must oversee a market cap of $300 million or more. The third: impact. For investors and asset managers of traditional funds, we looked for a minimum of $100 million in assets under management. For socially responsible impact investors, we relaxed this rule in order to highlight those working to solve systemic inequities. The fourth: first-time listees. Did this person make the 50 Over 50 in 2021? If the answer was yes, we moved on. The 2022 edition is a brand-new collection of names. And finally: a pay-it-forward mindset. Many of these women aren’t just working to advance their own careers, they’re using their platforms to make life better for future generations.
The women who fit this criteria are dazzling: Sheila Johnson is not just the 73-year-old cofounder of BET Networks and Salamander Hotels and Resorts, she is also is the first Black woman to own a stake in three professional sports franchises (the Washington Wizards, Capitals and Mystics). Jill Tiefenthaler, 58, became the first woman to helm the 134-year-old National Geographic Society—one of the world’s largest scientific nonprofits—in 2020, just before turning 56. Suzan Shown Harjo, 77, is a poet and activist who in 2014 received a Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, for her work shaping legislation for Native Americans and reclaiming tribal lands for Native peoples.
In a moment when women’s rights are under attack around the globe, it is our hope that the women on this list—and their stories of power and resilience—resonate, inform and even inspire. Above all, we hope their experiences are a reminder that it’s never too late to pursue a goal or achieve a dream.
“Some people get all their blessings in their 20s, some people get them in their 30s or 40s, and some people get them in their 50s or 60s or 70s,” says Hoda Kotb, the 58-year-old TODAY Show co-anchor and one of this year’s listees. Kotb was 53 in 2018 when NBC network execs tapped her for the co-anchor job—a move that made her and Savannah Guthrie the first all-female anchor team in the morning show’s 70-year history. The lesson she takes from this trajectory: “We’re not on anyone else’s timetable. We’re right on time.”