Many of the boomers who defined their generation
in technology, entertainment, media, politics and fashion will be turning 60
in 2015. Here, we highlight 10 trailblazers who made their mark and continue to do so through teaching, philanthropy, activism and inspiring second acts. They are sorted by their 2015 birthdates.
JOHN G. ROBERTS, Jr. – Supreme Court Chief Justice, January 27
John Roberts, the court’s second youngest member in a job with no retirement age, is likely to wield influence for many years if he is afforded the longevity of his predecessors. Since 2005, he has presided over an ideologically-divided court which has issued significant opinions on health care, campaign finance and gay rights.
GARY SINISE, Actor, March 17
It’s hard to say whether Gary Sinise is better known these days as an actor or a veterans’ advocate. A stage performer who earned an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of troubled Vietnam veteran Lt. Dan in Forrest Gump, Sinise formed the real-life Lt. Dan Band to entertain troops abroad. Through those performances, he formed a close bond with veterans and founded the Gary Sinise Foundation to support military families and first responders.
BARBARA KINGSOLVER, Author, April 8
Kingsolver, a biologist turned author, has written more than 14 books, mostly novels, including her best-known work The Poisonwood Bible
. In 2000, she received the National Humanities Medal from President Bill Clinton. In 2005, she moved her family to a farm in Appalachia and attempted to subsist only on locally-produced foods for a year, an experiment she chronicled in her book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life
. In 2012, Kingsolver founded the Bellwether Prize
, a $25,000 award for an unpublished novel promoting social change, as many of her books do.
ROSANNE CASH, Singer/Songwriter, May 25
The eldest daughter of Johnny Cash has been singing and composing music since she was a teenager. Her early career traced her father’s country music roots, and later she crossed over into folk, rock and blues. Cash is also an author, having published her first collection of short stories in 1996. Over the years, she has survived substance abuse, vocal cord polyps and a rare brain illness. She continues to record and perform, releasing her latest album The River and the Thread and earning a Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award last year.
IMAN – Model, July 25
The Somali supermodel who needs no last name, left modeling long ago to pursue other interests. After achieving international fame as a fashion model, she launched a line of affordable cosmetics and turned it into a $25 million business. Last year, she teamed up with model Naomi Campbell and modeling agent/activist Bethann Hardison to call out the fashion industry for failure to include more black models in their shows. She also supports a number of public health, child advocacy and relief organizations. She has been married to rock star David Bowie since 1992.
EDWIN MOSES, Olympic Athlete, August 31
Edwin Moses won Olympic gold in the 400 meter hurdles twice, first in 1976 and again in 1984. He broke four world records and also won 122 consecutive races between 1977 and 1987. He helped develop drug-testing policies for track and field and, since 2000, has chaired the Laureus World Sports Academy
, which promotes social change through sports.
YO-YO MA, Musician, October 7
The world’s most famous cellist, who played for President Kennedy as a boy, Ma is constantly taking on new projects and challenging himself to play even better. With 17 Grammys and a Presidential Medal of Freedom to his name, Ma might have retired to a life of leisure years ago. Instead, he continues to tour exhaustively and devotes time to his Silk Road Ensemble
, a collaborative musical group he founded in 1998 to support a range of educational, artistic and cultural-exchange programs.
BILL GATES, Entrepreneur, October 28
It may be hard to believe that the one-time whiz kid who made geek cool is turning 60. Gates
, who famously dropped out of Harvard, founded Microsoft and became a billionaire by the time he was 32, has focused his second act on philanthropy. Through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
, he and his wife have donated more than $31 billion to support numerous education, public health and anti-poverty initiatives.
MARIA SHRIVER – Journalist, November 6
Born to the storied Kennedy family, Maria Shriver made her mark as a journalist. She left her job as an NBC News anchor before husband Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected California governor. As first lady, she continued to work on political and charitable causes. In 2009, her HBO film, The Alzheimer’s Project
, won two Emmys. In 2011, she gracefully weathered public humiliation after it was discovered that Schwarzenegger had an affair and a child with a housekeeper. Shriver powered on, continuing with public appearances and supporting numerous causes including Alzheimer’s caregiving
and Special Olympics, the organization her mother founded. Last year, she published the Shriver Report
, examining financial equity among women.
BILL NYE, Science Educator, November 27
The mechanical engineer turned TV host popularized science as host of the PBS/Disney children’s program, Bill Nye the Science Guy
. After the show ended in 1998, Nye continued to serve as a science advocate through his public activities. His latest efforts have been aimed at combating scientific “illiteracy,” taking on climate-change skeptics
and creationists. This year, he published Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation
and recently explained evolution using emoji
By Liza Kaufman Hogan
Liza Kaufman Hogan is a senior editor for Next Avenue. She is a freelance writer, a former senior producer for CNN.com and lecturer at the Medill School of Journalism.
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