“My mother would look at me and she’d say, ‘Kamala, you may be the first to do many things, but make sure you are not the last.’ That’s why breaking those barriers is worth it. As much as anything else, it is also to create that path for those who will come after us.” These are the inspiring words that Vice President Kamala Harris delivered during a lecture, empowering millions of women to keep fighting for their dreams after the words were widely shared.
Harris has shattered the glass ceiling as the first woman—and woman of color—to be sworn in as vice president, paving the way for other women aspiring to secure major leadership positions. In 2020, women held 29 percent of senior leadership positions globally. Although we have a long way to go, it’s worth celebrating the successes of the women who are breaking ground.
Read more: 12 Female Leadership Books to Pump You Up
Here are 15 new women in leadership to celebrate in 2021:
1. Janet Yellen
Janet Yellen will be the first female treasury secretary in the U.S. Yellen previously taught at the Haas School of Business and was head of the Federal Reserve System from 2014–2018. She will serve under President Joe Biden and will lead the administration’s economic response to the pandemic. Her climb to the top has transformed her into a feminist icon in the economics world.
2. Rosalind Brewer
Rosalind “Roz” Brewer is set to become the CEO of Walgreens in March 2021, effectively making her the only Black woman to lead a Fortune 500 company. She’s previously made history as the first Black woman COO of Starbucks and the first woman—and the first Black person—as president and CEO of Walmart. There have only been 18 Black chief executives of Fortune 500 companies since 1999, and Brewer will become the 19th.
3. Karen Lynch
This February, Karen Lynch became the CEO of CVS Health. Previously, she was the company’s executive vice president and has also held executive positions at Cigna, Aetna, and Magellan Health Services, giving her three decades of experience in the health care industry. In 2020, she was recognized by Forbes as one of The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women and for the past five years, she was named on Fortune’s list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business.
4. Jane Fraser
Banking Connoisseur Jane Fraser will become the CEO of Citigroup in March, making history as the first woman to run one of Wall Street’s four biggest banks. She started her career at Goldman Sachs and McKinsey and spent half of her 10-year McKinsey tenure working part time to raise her children. As a working mom, she once said, “The advice to everyone is, you can have it all, but don’t expect to have it at exactly the same time.” Amen.
5. Linda Rendle
In September 2020, Linda Rendle ascended to the CEO position at The Clorox Company. Rendle has worked with Clorox in leadership positions since 2003 and previously held several sales management positions at Procter & Gamble. Currently, Rendle is leading the charge in helping the company develop new products to help sustain the momentum it gained during the pandemic.
6. Lauren Hobart
Lauren Hobart joined Dick’s Sporting Goods in 2011 and acted as Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer before securing the position as the company’s new CEO in February 2021. Earlier this year, she also joined the board of Yum! Brands. Similar to many of the women on this list, Hobart will be the first woman at the head of a nationwide sporting goods chain.
7. Sonia Syngal (pictured)
Former Old Navy CEO Sonia Syngal was named the new CEO of Gap Inc. in March 2020. Recently, Syngal has joined other chief executives in discussing economic relief bills with President Joe Biden. Syngal is one of 37 women leading a Fortune 500 company and was named one of Working Mother Magazine’s 50 Most Powerful Moms of 2018.
8. Carol Tomé
Carol Tomé is the new CEO of UPS—but she didn’t plan for her career trajectory to work out this way. Tomé worked for Home Depot for years and worked her way up to the CFO position before retiring in 2019—but retirement didn’t last very long. When UPS needed a new CEO in 2020, Tomé immediately stepped up into the position since she’d served on the board since 2003. Her leadership reactivation is going well so far—she’s the 11th most powerful woman in the world according to Forbes.
9. Helena Helmersson
In January 2020, Helena Helmersson took over as H&M’s first woman CEO and first non-family member to lead the fashion group. Helmersson is already driving lasting change in the fashion industry with a focus on sustainability. In February 2020, she helped H&M become the first retailer to sell a dress made from 100 percent recycled cotton and launched an in-store recycling system to transform customer’s old clothes into something new in front of them.
10. Deborah Liu
Deborah “Deb” Liu was appointed CEO of Ancestry in February of this year. Before Ancestry, Liu created and led Facebook’s Marketplace product group and held leadership roles at eBay and PayPal. Liu advocates for diversity in the workplace and actively helps propel women in technology through the nonprofit she co-founded, Women in Product.
11. Anita Samojednik
Former Groupon President Anita Samojednik was named CEO of Paro, a Chicago-based tech startup that connects companies to finance professionals for on-demand financial advice, in January of this year. Prior to Paro, Samojednik had over 15 years of executive leadership experience at Groupon, Ladders, and Vonage and still serves as a member of the advisory board at the Columbia Business School.
12. Tracy Skeans
Tracy Skeans was promoted to Yum! Brand’s Chief Operating Officer in January of this year. Skeans has worked with the company for 20 years, and has served as Chief People Officer since 2016. During the pandemic, Skeans has played an integral role in protecting the health, safety, and engagement of Yum! Brand’s corporate and restaurant teams. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Women’s Foodservice Forum, a forum that accelerates the advancement of women leaders in the food industry through networking and leadership development.
13. Phyllis Newhouse
Founder and CEO of Xtreme Solutions Inc. Phyllis Newhouse has recently stepped into the role of CEO of a new special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), Athena Technology Acquisition Corp. She will become one of just a handful of women to lead a SPAC through an IPO. She previously founded ShoulderUp, a nonprofit that connects and supports women in their career journeys with Viola Davis, and in 2017, she became the first woman to win an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year award in the technology category.
14. Rachael Sampson
KeyBank named Rachael Sampson as senior vice president and director of Key4Women in January of this year. Sampson has 20 years of banking experience and has been with the company for 15 years. In her new role, she "will lead a nationwide network to promote and support women business owners and clients toward growth." Since its conception 16 years ago, the Key4Women program has generated more than $12 billion in loans granted to women-owned businesses.
15. Geisha Jimenez Williams
Geisha Jimenez Williams just joined the Artera Services board of directors in February. Williams was formerly the president and CEO of PG&E, one of the largest combined natural gas and electric energy companies in the US. She was the first Latina CEO of a Fortune 200 company and was recognized as the highest-ranking Latina leader in business by Fortune in 2018.