World's Greatest Leaders

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In business, government, philanthropy, and the arts, and all over the globe, these men and women are transforming the world and inspiring others to do the same. Read more about our sixth annual list here.
RANK NAME TITLE AFFILIATION
1 Bill and Melinda Gates Cofounders Gates Foundation
2 Jacinda Ardern Prime Minister New Zealand
3 Robert Mueller Special Counsel Department of Justice
4 Pony Ma Founder and CEO Tencent
5 Satya Nadella CEO Microsoft
6 Greta Thunberg Student and climate activist Sweden
7 Margrethe Vestager Commissioner for Competition European Union
8 Anna Nimiriano Editor-in-Chief Juba Monitor
9 José Andrés Chef/Founder World Central Kitchen
10 Doug McMillon and Lisa Woods CEO; Senior Director, Strategy & Design for U.S. Benefits Walmart
11 Aliko Dangote CEO Dangote Industries
12 Masayoshi Son CEO SoftBank
13 Marilyn Bartlett Special Products Coordinator State of Montana
14 Tim Cook CEO Apple
15 Claudia Dobles First Lady Costa Rica
16 Chip Bergh CEO Levi Strauss
17 Sean McVay Head Coach L.A. Rams
18 The Pink Wave 42 Newly Elected Women United States Congress
19 Tristan Walker Cofounder, Code2040 and CEO, Walker & Co. Brands
20 Charlie Baker Governor Massachusetts
21 Jo Ann Jenkins CEO AARP
22 Michael J. Fox Founder Michael J. Fox Foundation
23 Katrina Lake CEO StitchFix
24 William McDonough Founder William McDonough + Partners
25 Leo Varadkar Prime Minister Ireland
26 Marc Harrison President and CEO Intermountain Healthcare
27 Fatma Samoura Secretary General FIFA
28 Kyaw Hla Aung Activist/Lawyer Myanmar
29 William J. Barber II Pastor and Activist The Poor People's Campaign
30 Kapil Mohabir Managing Partner Plympton Farms
31 Tadashi Yanai CEO/Founder Fast Retailing
32 Mick Ebeling and Daniel Epstein CEOs Not Impossible Labs and Unreasonable Group (respectively)
33 Venture Capital for the 99% Aileen Lee, All Raise and Steve Case and J.D. Vance, Rise of the Rest
34 Joy Buolamwini Founder, Algorithmic Justice League and graduate researcher, MIT Media Lab
35 Kerstin Forsberg Founder/Chair Planeta Oceano
36 Sunita Danuwar Executive Director Shakti Samuha
37 Chrystia Freeland Minister of Foreign Affairs Canada
38 Ellen Agler CEO The End Fund
39 Jordan Peele Director/Producer Monkeypaw Productions
40 Sister Norma Pimentel Executive Director Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley
41 António Horta-Osório CEO Lloyds Banking Group
42 Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Duke and Duchess of Sussex United Kingdom
43 Beth Ford CEO and President Land O'Lakes
44 Michael Crow President Arizona State University
45 Arunachalam Muruganantham Social Entrepreneur Jayaashree Industries
46 Tricia Griffith CEO Progressive Insurance
47 Mahathir Mohamad Prime Minister Malaysia
48 Tony Bennett Head Men's Basketball Coach University of Virginia Cavaliers
49 Brian Manley Chief of Police Austin
50 Scott Gottlieb Former Commissioner FDA
1

Bill and Melinda Gates

Cofounders, Gates Foundation
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In Manhiça, Mozambique in 2003. “Melinda would sit on the ground, talking woman to woman about the things that mothers care about,” recalls one ally who joined the trip. “She has this remarkable ability to connect.”
Courtesy of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation/Barbara Kinney

For evidence of what happens when an unstoppable force — Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates — meets a profoundly movable human being, the empathetic Melinda Gates, one has simply to measure the impact of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

 

From January 1995 through the end of 2017, that namesake philanthropy (along with earlier Gates family foundations that were merged into the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000) has deployed an extraordinary, barely countable $45.5 billion. That funding has launched, and then continually supported, what global health experts widely acknowledge to be some of the most successful international, private-public partnerships ever formed: GAVI, which has helped developing countries immunize 700 million children against preventable diseases. The second is The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

 

But the impact of Bill and Melinda Gates is due to more than money. As Warren Buffett told Fortune, “The two of them have a multiplier effect—the two of them together. They act with a unity of purpose and with a difference of style.”

 

Read Fortune‘s profile of Bill and Melinda Gates here.

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