The most powerful woman from every state

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Talia Lakritz
·19 min read
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powerful women every state
From left to right: Beyonce, Dr. Jill Biden, and Meghan Markle. Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images for Disney, Roy Rochlin/Getty Images, Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Since 1981, March has been celebrated as Women's History Month in the US. But women's accomplishments in politics, medicine, civil rights, entertainment, media, sports, business, and other pursuits are worth celebrating every day.

Here's the most powerful woman born in every state.

ALABAMA: Rosa Parks

rosa parks
Rosa Parks was an activist long before she refused to give up her seat. Getty Images

Rosa Parks, born in Tuskegee, Alabama, was an activist long before she refused to give up her seat for a white rider in 1955 — she was the secretary of the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP.

"People always say that I didn't give up my seat because I was tired," she wrote in her autobiography, "but that isn't true. I was not tired physically … No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in."

Her arrest sparked a bus boycott, and, as a result, the Supreme Court ruled bus segregation unconstitutional in 1956.

ALASKA: Elizabeth Peratrovich

Elizabeth Peratrovich
Elizabeth Peratrovich was featured on a one dollar coin. US Mint via AP

Elizabeth Peratrovich was born in Petersburg, Alaska. A member of the Native Tlingit nation, her passionate address to the Alaska Legislature is credited with helping pass the Anti-Discrimination Act of 1945, the first anti-discrimination bill in the United States, almost 20 years before the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

She was featured on a new $1 coin honoring Native American civil rights leaders in 2020.

ARIZONA: Lynda Carter

Lynda Carter played Wonder Woman. Getty Images / Jordan Strauss

Lynda Carter was born in Phoenix, Arizona. Her portrayal of Wonder Woman in the 1975 television series by the same name was iconic, resonating with audiences for decades. During her three seasons doing the show, she was one of just several women on set. By performing many of her own stunts, she ultimately helped promote a stuntwoman's union.

"[Before that,] they didn't have women doing stunts," she told EW in 2017, "they had men doing stunts in wigs."

ARKANSAS: Chelsea Clinton

chelsea clinton
Chelsea Clinton works for the Clinton Foundation. Rob Kim/Getty

As the daughter of former president Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Chelsea Clinton now works for the Clinton Foundation as a vice chair.

The Foundation's mission is to convene businesses, governments, NGOs, and individuals to improve global health and wellness, increase opportunity for women and girls, reduce childhood obesity, create economic opportunity and growth, and help communities address the effects of climate change. She's also an author and teacher at Columbia University. She was born in Little Rock, Arkansas.

CALIFORNIA: Meghan Markle

meghan markle
Meghan Markle is the Duchess of Sussex. Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Meghan Markle was already a star in "Suits" and an outspoken feminist before she became the Duchess of Sussex. Her royal wedding was watched by 29.2 million people and her outfits sell out instantly thanks to her "Markle sparkle."

After using her global platform to champion the arts, education, gender equality, and other charitable causes, she's reshaping the monarchy by leaving royal life.

COLORADO: Ruth Handler

ruth handler
Ruth Handler named Barbies after her daughter Barbara. Matt Campbell/AFP/Getty Images

Ruth Handler was born in Denver, Colorado, and created Barbie dolls in 1959. The name "Barbie" came from Handler's daughter, Barbara. The company says that 100 Barbie dolls are sold every minute in 150 countries worldwide.

Over the years criticized for their proportions and representation of women, Barbie dolls continue to adapt to changing times with expanded career options, broader representation across race, nationality, and body type, and of course, the latest styles.

CONNECTICUT: Betsey Johnson

betsey johnson grandma
Betsey Johnson does cartwheels on the runways of her fashion shows. Evan Agostini/Getty Images

Born in Connecticut, fashion designer Betsey Johnson's bold, over-the-top creations have been her signature since the 1960s. Her early fans included Jackie Kennedy and Andy Warhol, and she continues to dress celebrities on red carpets as well as everyday people. She was awarded the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015.

DELAWARE: Annie Jump Cannon

Annie Jump Cannon
Annie Jump Cannon was an American astronomer. Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Annie Jump Cannon was an astronomer who discovered how to classify stars by temperature. She published her findings in 1901 and her spectral classifications became the universal standard. She classified 225,000 stars in her lifetime and was the first woman to receive an honorary doctorate from Oxford for her work. She was born in Dover, Delaware.

FLORIDA: Emma González

Emma Gonzalez march for our lives
Emma González's speech at the "March for Our Lives" rally brought many to tears. AP Photo/Alex Brandon

All of the Parkland student activists who survived the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have made an impact on how America talks about gun control, but Emma González' powerful speeches, op-eds, and no-nonsense attitude have made waves countrywide. She has become one of the most recognizable faces of the gun control movement in the US.

GEORGIA: Gladys Knight

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Gladys Knight. Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for ABC

Gladys Knight is known as the "Empress of Soul" for her hits such as "Midnight Train to Georgia" and "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" with her group, Gladys Knight and the Pips. She was named one of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time by Rolling Stone.

HAWAII: Patsy Mink

Patsy Mink sponsored Title IX. AP/Karin Cooper

Patsy Mink of Paia, Hawaii, was the first woman of color elected to Congress. She also sponsored and co-authored Title IX, which protects students against gender discrimination in federally-funded programs.

She was awarded a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2014.

IDAHO: Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin. JASON CONNOLLY/AFP via Getty Images

Sarah Palin was born in Sandpoint, Idaho. She was the second woman to run for vice president on a major party ticket, and the first Republican female vice presidential nominee, when John McCain chose her as his running mate in 2008. She had previously served as Alaska's first female governor.

After losing the 2008 election, Palin became a Fox News, author, and reality TV show star.

ILLINOIS: Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama
Michelle Obama remains an icon even after her tenure as first lady. Jim Young / Reuters

Michelle Obama was named Forbes' Most Powerful Woman of the Year in 2010. As the first African American first lady, she kick-started programs promoting fitness and education and delivered memorable speeches. Her memoir, "Becoming," about growing up on the South Side of Chicago, her relationship with Barack Obama, and her time in the White House, was the bestselling hardcover book of 2018.

INDIANA: Angela Ahrendts

Angela Ahrendts
Angela Ahrendts earned more than Apple CEO Tim Cook. AP

Angela Ahrendts was the senior vice president of Apple and the company's highest-paid executive. She earned $24.2 million in 2017, twice what Apple CEO Tim Cook made. Before working at Apple, she was the CEO of Burberry. She was born in New Palestine, Indiana.

IOWA: Peggy Whitson

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Peggy Whitson has spent more time in space than any other US astronaut. NASA via AP

Peggy Whitson was born in Mt. Ayr, Iowa. A NASA astronaut, she holds the US record for the most time spent in space at 665 days and was the first woman to command the International Space Station twice.

KANSAS: Janelle Monáe

janelle monae
Janelle Monáe often wears black and white on red carpets. Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Janelle Monáe was born in Kansas City, Kansas. She starred in the Oscar-winning "Moonlight" and Oscar-nominated "Hidden Figures" and has also been nominated for eight Grammy Awards. She came out when she appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone, describing herself as "a queer black woman in America, someone who has been in relationships with both men and women" and is celebrated as an LGBTQ+ icon.

KENTUCKY: Rose Will Monroe

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Rosie the Riveter on a stamp. Joan Seidel/AP

Rose Will Monroe of Kentucky worked as a riveter (someone who operates a riveting gun) of B-24 and B-29 bomber airplanes during World War II. She appeared in a film shot by actor Walter Pidgeon about war bonds and became known as the "real" Rosie the Riveter (after the character had already been established).

LOUISIANA: Reese Witherspoon

Reese Witherspoon
Reese Witherspoon. Jordan Strauss/AP

Reese Witherspoon was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. While the Oscar-winning actress is known for her iconic roles in "Legally Blonde," "Wild," and "Walk the Line," she also founded the production company Hello Sunshine in 2016 to focus on women-led stories. Forbes named her one of the World's 100 Most Powerful Women in 2020.

MAINE: Margaret Chase Smith

Margaret Chase Smith served in both the House and the Senate. AP

Margaret Chase Smith was born in Skowhegan, Maine. She was the first woman to be elected to both the House of Representatives and the Senate. She passed the Women's Armed Forces Integration Act granting women in the military full status (they had been considered volunteers up until then), and her "Declaration of Conscience" speech challenged McCarthyism at a time when speaking up carried grave consequences.

MARYLAND: Nancy Pelosi

Nancy Pelosi
Nancy Pelosi is third in the line of succession for the presidency. AP

Nancy Pelosi was born in Baltimore, Maryland. She was sworn in as the first female Speaker of the House in 2007 , 2019, and 2021. It is the highest position of power ever achieved by a woman in the US — third in the line of succession after the president and vice president.

"We have broken the marble ceiling," Pelosi said when she was sworn in for the first time. "For our daughters and our granddaughters now the sky is the limit."


susan b anthony
Susan B. Anthony fought for women's suffrage. PhotoQuest/Getty Images

Susan B. Anthony was a women's rights activist and lifelong advocate for gender and racial equality. In 1872, Anthony was arrested for attempting to vote. Years later, the trial led to her introducing the 19th Amendment to Congress granting women the right to vote. Though it was not ratified until 1920, it was widely known as the Susan B. Anthony Amendment. Her birthplace in Adams, Massachusetts, is now a museum.


madonna super bowl halftime 2012
Madonna continues to inspire pop music artists. Mark Humphrey/AP

Madonna's 1989 album "Like A Prayer" spent six weeks at the top of the charts, according to Billboard. It's still her longest-running No. 1 album. Her undeniably catchy songs and edgy fashion choices defined pop music and culture in the 1980s and 1990s, and artists continue to channel her aesthetic. She was born in Bay City, Michigan.

MINNESOTA: Lois Jenson

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Charlize Theron played Jenson in a movie about her case called "North Country." Will Burgess/Reuters

Lois Jenson was a single mother and one of four women working in a mine in Eveleth, Minnesota. She was subject to constant harassment from male colleagues and was ignored by the union and management when she reported it. She filed a class action suit, and after 14 years, she was the first woman to win a sex discrimination case in the US, according to The Guardian.

Jenson's story inspired the movie "North Country" starring Charlize Theron, pictured.

MISSISSIPPI: Oprah Winfrey

oprah winfrey
Oprah Winfrey is a media powerhouse. Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Oprah Winfrey was born in Kosciusko, Mississippi. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama in 2013 in recognition of her philanthropy and influence as the host of "The Oprah Winfrey Show," the highest-rated talk show in America for 25 years, according to the White House. She is also the founder and CEO of OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network.

MISSOURI: Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou was an author, poet, screenwriter, and actress. AP

Maya Angelou was born in St. Louis, Missouri. She was the author of the classic memoir "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" about her early life as well as several other autobiographical books and volumes of poetry. She was also an actress and one of the first African American women to have a screenplay produced as a feature film with "Georgia, Georgia." Angelou received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.

MONTANA: Jeannette Rankin

Jeannette Rankin
Jeannette Rankin was one of the few suffragists who served in Congress. AP

Jeannette Rankin was the first woman elected to Congress and the only member to vote against participating in both world wars. She was born near Missoula, Montana.

"I may be the first woman member of Congress, but I won't be the last," she said when she was elected in 1916.

NEBRASKA: Susan La Flesche Picotte

Susan La Flesche Picotte
Susan La Flesche Picotte was the first Native American woman to earn a medical degree. The National Library of Medicine

Susan La Flesche Picotte was the first Native American woman to graduate from medical school. She earned her degree from the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1889. The hospital where she practiced is now a national historic landmark known as the Dr. Susan La Fleshe Picotte Memorial Hospital. She was born on the Omaha Reservation in northeastern Nebraska.

NEVADA: Jennifer Harman

jennifer harman
Jennifer Harman wins big at poker competitions. Jae C. Hong, File/AP

Professional poker player Jennifer Harman of Reno, Nevada, is the only woman to win two World Series of Poker bracelets. She has earned more than $1.4 million over her WSOP career.

NEW HAMPSHIRE: Sarah Silverman

sarah silverman
Sarah Silverman's comedy gets political. Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

Sarah Silverman is one of the biggest names in entertainment (with a Twitter following of 12.5 million), an Emmy Award-winning actress, comedian, producer, and author, as well as a political activist whose work and commentary have at times made waves for being considered racy and controversial.

During the 2008 presidential election, she made a video urging American Jews to convince their Florida grandparents to vote for Obama. Though it's unclear how much direct influence this video had, 78% of American Jews voted for Obama that year. She was born in Bedford, New Hampshire.

NEW JERSEY: Dr. Jill Biden

jill biden
Dr. Jill Biden. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Dr. Jill Biden is the first lady of the United States. An English professor at North Virginia Community College, she is the only first lady in history to have a full-time job while serving in the role. She was born in Hammonton, New Jersey.

NEW MEXICO: Dolores Huerta

Dolores Huerta is a Chicano civil rights leader. AP/Richard Shotwell

Dolores Huerta was born in Dawson, New Mexico. She is a Chicano civil rights leader and labor activist who co-founded the United Farm Workers Association. She helped workers organize strikes, negotiate contracts, and establish safer working conditions. Her activism led to the passage of the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012.

NEW YORK: Ruth Bader Ginsburg

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The Notorious RBG. Ron Edmonds/AP

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was appointed to the US Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton in 1993. A champion of women's rights on the bench, her dissenting opinions spawned the "Notorious RBG" memes. She died of pancreatic cancer in 2020. She was born in Brooklyn, New York.

NORTH CAROLINA: Evan Rachel Wood

evan rachel wood congress
Evan Rachel Wood is an actress and activist. Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images

Evan Rachel Wood is an actress currently appearing on the show "Westworld" and she voiced Anna and Elsa's mother in "Frozen II." She testified in front of the House Judiciary Committee in 2018 to advocate for the Survivors' Bill of Rights Act, sharing a powerful and harrowing account about being beaten and raped that was covered by countless media outlets throughout the world. She was born in Raleigh, North Carolina.

NORTH DAKOTA: Fannie Almara Dunn Quain

Fannie Almara Dunn Quain
Fannie Almara Dunn Quain became a doctor in 1898. US National Library of Medicine

Fannie Almara Dunn Quain was the first North Dakota woman to earn a medical degree in 1898. She was born in Bismarck, North Dakota.

OHIO: Gloria Steinem

Gloria Steinem
Gloria Steinem is a feminist icon. AP Photo/Dan Steinberg

Gloria Steinem's articles "A Bunny's Tale" and "After Black Power, Women's Liberation," as well as books like "Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions," cemented her as a leader of the feminist movement in the late 1960s and 1970s. She founded Ms. Magazine in 1972 and continues to travel the world as a speaker and organizer. Steinem was born in Toledo, Ohio.

OKLAHOMA: Wilma Mankiller

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Wilma Mankiller was the first female Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation. Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images

Wilma Mankiller was the first female principal chief of the Cherokee Nation. She also helped establish the US Department of Justice's Office of Tribal Justice. She was born in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.

OREGON: Beverley Cleary

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Beverly Cleary's books are available in 20 countries and in 14 languages. Terry Smith/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images

Beverly Cleary was born in McMinnville, Oregon. She received the National Medal of Art in 2003 in recognition of her books starring the beloved characters of Beezus and Ramona Quimby and Henry Huggins. Her work has been translated into 14 languages.


Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift Ethan Miller/GettyImages

Taylor Swift was born in Reading, Pennsylvania. She was the youngest artist to win a Grammy for Album of the Year at 20 years old and has been a pop music mainstay ever since. She has been nominated for 32 Grammys and won 10. Her Reputation Stadium Tour is the highest-grossing US tour by a woman. Following an Instagram post in which she urged people to vote, saw 65,000 new registrations.

RHODE ISLAND: Martha McSally

martha mcsally
Senator Martha McSally speaks during a Senate Armed Subcommittee hearing on preventing sexual assault. Joshua Roberts/Reuters

Martha McSally was the first female fighter pilot in the US Air Force to fly in combat and the first woman to command a combat aviation squadron. She served as a US Senator for Arizona, having been appointed to John McCain's Senate seat, until she was defeated by Mark Kelly in the 2020 election. She was born in Warwick, Rhode Island.


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Viola Davis just needs a Grammy to be an EGOT holder. Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Viola Davis was born in St. Matthews, South Carolina. She is the first Black woman to win at least one competitive acting award at the Oscars, Emmys, and Tonys. She won an Emmy in 2015 as the lead actress in a drama series for "How to Get Away With Murder," and in 2001 she won a Tony for "King Hedley II" (she won another in 2010 for the Broadway version of "Fences").


kristi noem
Kristi Noem is the state's first female governor in history. James Nord/AP

Kristi Noem was born in Watertown, South Dakota. She is currently serving as the state's first female governor.

"It is a distinct honor to serve as our state's first woman governor, first and foremost because of the message it sends to our state's girls and young women, but really boys and young men as well," Noem said at her inauguration according to Argus Leader, a local network affiliated with USA Today.


Amy Hood Microsoft CFO
Amy Hood is a high-powered executive at Microsoft. Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

Amy Hood was named one of Forbes' most powerful women of 2018 for her work as the EVP and CFO of Microsoft. She was born in Nashville, Tennessee.

TEXAS: Beyonce

Beyonce Knowles Coachella 2018 performance Getty Images
Beyonce turned Coachella into #Beychella. Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Beyonce is on top of the world. Her music, style, and performances continue to make bold statements (who can forget #Beychella), and she leverages her success to open the doors for artists whose work may have otherwise been overlooked — for her September cover shoot, Vogue hired the first black photographer in its 126-year history. She was born in Houston, Texas.

UTAH: Chrissy Teigen

Chrissy Teigen
Chrissy Teigen has no time for negativity. Theo Wargo/Getty Images

Chrissy Teigen was born in Delta, Utah. In addition to being a successful actress, model, and producer, she's an expert at clapping back on social media. She has released two cookbooks and a line of cookware for Target. In 2018, she was named one of Glamour's women of the year.

VERMONT: Grace Coolidge

Grace Coolidge
Grace Coolidge in 1923. AP

Grace Coolidge was born in Burlington, Vermont. She was the first lady during Calvin Coolidge's presidency. The Secret Service referred to her as "Sunshine" for her vibrant personality. In 1931, she was voted one of America's greatest living women, according to the White House. The New England Historical Society calls her one of the most popular first ladies in history.

VIRGINIA: Katie Couric

Katie Couric
Katie Couric is an accomplished broadcast journalist. D Dipasupil/Getty Images

Katie Couric is one of the most well-known names in broadcast journalism. After co-anchoring "The Today Show," she was the first woman to anchor a network evening news program solo. She was inducted into the Television Academy's Hall of Fame in 2004. She was born in Arlington, Virginia.

WASHINGTON: Mary Lambert

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Mary Lambert is a singer/songwriter and spoken word poet. Kimberly White/Getty Images

Mary Lambert was born in Seattle, Washington. She wrote the chorus for the 2013 Macklemore and Ryan Lewis song "Same Love" about marriage equality which went triple platinum. Her 2014 single "Secrets" launched to No. 1 on the Billboard charts, and was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America in 2015.

WEST VIRGINIA: Mary Lou Retton

Mary Lou Retton
Mary Lou Retton won five medals at the Olympics in 1984, including the all-around gold. Suzanne Vlamis/AP

Mary Lou Retton was born in Fairmont, West Virginia. She was the first American female gymnast to win the all-around Olympic gold medal in 1984, cementing her as an icon in US gymnastics.

WISCONSIN: Georgia O'Keeffe

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Georgia O'Keefe's work is instantly recognizable. Tony Vaccaro/Getty Images

Georgia O'Keefe was born near Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. Her characteristic Modernist paintings of flowers, bones, and desert scenes are displayed in art museums across the world.

WYOMING: Anne Gorsuch Burford

Anne Gorsuch Burford
Anne Gorsuch Burford is Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch's mother. John Duricka, File/AP

Anne Gorsuch Burford was born in Casper, Wyoming. She was the first female administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, though her tenure there was controversial.

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