World Economic Forum 2009 | Remy Steinegger - Gates Foundation

Research Center in Mozombique | Jeff Christensen - Gates Foundation

Manhica Research Center, Mozambique | Jeff Christensen - Gates Foundation

Field Worker and Patient - Khayelitsha Site B Clinic, South Africa | Sharon Farmer - Gates Foundation

International Institute of Tropical Agriculture Research Station, Abuja, Nigeria | Prashant Panjiar - Gates Foundation

Chura Village, Kenya | Courtesy of the Gates Foundation

Chura Village, Kenya | Courtesy of the Gates Foundation

2. Melinda Gates

Cochair and trustee of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Maybe it should be called the Melinda & Bill Gates Foundation. Her influence over the world's largest foundation is enormous—Bill has said it wouldn't exist if it weren't for her. She has championed not only big-picture, tech-oriented solutions to improve health and education over the long term but also more modest steps to help the poorest of the poor right now, such as distributing condoms. The foundation's latest surprise: funding health and education messages to be integrated into Viacom TV programming. Sneaky? Perhaps. Daring? For sure—and that's what Gates, 44, expects of the foundation. "We will get out there and try something," she told Vogue this year. "If it doesn't work, we will try something else. And we will keep trying until we find something that works." — by Jeff Chu

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