Name: Arianna Huffington
Short biography: Arianna Huffington (née Stassinopoulos) was born in Athens, Greece, in 1950. When she was 16, her family moved to England, where she later studied economics at (and received a Master of Arts degree from) Girton College, at Cambridge University. In 1980, Huffington moved to New York City and started a career as a writer. Huffington came into the public eye as a side effect of her then-husband Michael Huffington’s failed senate bid in 1994. In 2003, Huffington ran on the independent ticket for governor of California, and in 2005, she started The Huffington Post.1
What they do: Huffington is the president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group and a nationally syndicated columnist. (The Huffington Post is a news website, blog and content aggregator; in 2012 the site won a Pulitzer Prize for national reporting.) She has also written 13 books, including The Female Woman: An Argument Against Women’s Liberation for Female Emancipation, which examines womens’ changing roles, was published in 1974 and has since been translated into 11 languages. Her latest book, Third World America: How Our Politicians Are Abandoning the Middle Class and Betraying the American Dream, was published in 2010.2
Why they matter: In a Vogue magazine feature, Huffington was described as “refashioning the paradigm of the media tycoon and news editor. She seems the antithesis of the inaccessible, crotchety mogul, and intentionally so; she’s unabashed about women having a special responsibility to correct the way things are run.” In the same profile, she was quoted as saying: “I want to redefine success.”3 (Huffington sold The Huffington Post to AOL in 2011 for $315 million, only six years after it was first created.)
Huffington is on the boards of a variety of organizations that promote social change, including the Committee to Protect Journalists, which aims to protect the freedom and lives of journalists around the world.2
She’s twice been named to Time magazine’s Top 100, first in 2006 and then again in 2011,2 and was in 2011 sitting at No. 31 on the list of Forbes magazine’s list of Power Women.4 In 2009, Huffington was named as number 12 in Forbes' first-ever list of the Most Influential Women In Media. She has also moved up to number 42 in The Guardian's Top 100 in Media List.1
How they got where they are: While at university, Huffington was president of the prestigious Cambridge Union debate team. At age 22, she became a best-selling author with The Female Woman.3 Prior to The Huffington Post, Huffington hosted a website called Ariannaonline.com, but her first website was called Resignation.com; it called for the resignation of President Bill Clinton.1 Her involvement in her ex-husband’s senate campaign helped her become a political figure in her own right.