Nonprofit Leaders Skew Young in TIME’s “100 Most Influential” List

Print Share on LinkedIn More

April 18, 2012; Source: Time Magazine

TIME Magazine’s annual list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World is out and NPQ was thrilled to see Ai-Jen Poo, the head of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, on the list. NPQ interviewed Ai-Jen earlier this month about her leadership of the 99% Spring efforts to train and mobilize 100,000 activists. She is a remarkable and quite modest leader, known for her leadership in getting New York State to enact the first-ever Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights.

Ai-Jen is not the only U.S. nonprofit leader among TIME’s top 100. Bill Gates wrote the profile of Salman Khan, who created the Khan Academy, a nonprofit that has an online library of over 3,000 online lectures for kids in a range of topics, allowing all users “a chance at a free, world-class education.” NPQ took a look at the Academy site and found 35 lectures  on solving quadratics, 20 on current economics (including three on the economics of a cupcake factory), and 14 on the Paulson bailout (we’re particularly interested in the fourth of the bailout lectures, which examines mark-to-model vs. mark-to-market).

New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin profiled NFL quarterback Tim Tebow but spent most of the brief essay on Tebow’s religious values, which he expresses partly through his eponymous foundation. The foundation supports a variety of programs that inspire the young quarterback, now with the New York Jets, but focuses on an eclectic four: a Jacksonville-based wish-granting program for children with life-threatening illnesses; CURE International, which helps children with treatable physical disabilities; Timmy’s Playrooms in children’s hospitals; and Uncle Dick’s Orphanage in the Philippines.

During the past 12 months, the NPQ Newswire has run six stories on online petitions organized by, from a recent petition demanding an arrest in the Trayvon Martin shooting to the petition organized by Saudi women demanding permission from authorities to be able to drive cars. The founder of, Ben Rattray, is on the TIME list and the woman leading the Saudi protest, Manal al-Sharif, who we profiled in the NPQ Newswire, was also included in the list.

NPQ has also written about the DREAM Act as a logical step to take to provide a path to citizenship for the children of undocumented immigrants. The leader of the Arizona DREAM Act Coalition, Dulce Matuz, is in the top 100, the recipient of a brief but thoughtful profile penned by actress Eva Longoria.

A person, or perhaps hundreds or even thousands of persons, going by the name of

Anonymous, pictured as looking like Guy Fawkes, received recognition for plundering and playing in the electronic networks of an ever-shifting enemies list: Arab dictatorships, the Vatican, banking and entertainment firms, the FBI and CIA, the security firm Stratfor and even San Francisco’s BART transport system.

With the exception of Barbara Van Dahlen (the founder of Give an Hour, which provides free mental health services to armed forces personnel and their families affected by the U.S. military action in Iraq and Afghanistan), all of the U.S. nonprofit leaders on the TIME list are under 40, with Ai-Jen Poo topping out at 38. Even as youngish nonprofit leaders, they were all people who had tested and proven themselves. They aren’t great leaders because they are young; they are young nonprofit activists whose accomplishments and continuing efforts merited their inclusion in TIME’s list of the most influential people in the world.—Rick Cohen