The Coolest Woman in Every Single State
So many amazing groundbreakers and game changers
We’ll start with a disclaimer: There are just waaaay too many awesome women in this country. So we had to pare it down to one per state. From small but important accomplishments (like being the only lady on her high-school football team) to mind-blowing achievements (like, um, living in space), here are the coolest women in every single state (plus Washington D.C.).
ALABAMA: LILLY LEDBETTER
You’ve probably heard her name associated with the Fair Pay Act of 2009. Ledbetter has worked tirelessly to make equal pay for equal work a reality.
ALASKA: THE SALMON SISTERS
Sisters Claire Laukitis Neaton and Emma Teal have inspired us to move to Alaska. Not only are they badass fisher-women, but their business, Salmon Sisters, sells products designed and created in Alaska. For every sale they make, they donate a can of wild Alaskan salmon to the Food Bank of Alaska.
ARIZONA: DIANE HUMETEWA
Ohh, just the first Native American woman to serve as a federal judge…NBD.
ARKANSAS: TAMHRA HUTCHINS-FRYE
In 2016, Hutchins-Frye became the first woman promoted to general in the Arkansas Air National Guard. Breaking. That. Glass. Ceiling.
CALIFORNIA: KELSIE WHITMORE & STACY PIAGNO
Well, we couldn’t choose just one of the first two women signed to play with an independent professional baseball team. Go Sonoma Stompers!
COLORADO: TEMPLE GRANDIN
Fantastic cowboy shirts aside, Grandin is a total game changer. Using insights from her autism, she revolutionized the livestock industry by designing humane handling systems that help reduce animal trauma.
CONNECTICUT: KRISTEN GRIEST
Boot camp? Puh-lease. Griest is one of the first two women (along with Shaye Lynne Haver) to ever graduate from the U.S. Army Ranger School. In 2016, Griest became the first female infantry officer in the U.S. Army.
Delaware: Marnie Oursler
The only thing cooler than a female contractor? A fifth-generation female builder with an MBA from Duke who runs her own construction company.
FLORIDA: VAL DEMINGS
Today she’s running for U.S. House of Representatives, but she previously served as the first woman chief of the Orlando Police Department.
GEORGIA: JEWEL BURKS
Ya know, just your average 26-year-old who raised $1.5 million to fund her start-up, PartPic. It’s an app that helps you find the weird little washer that fell off your sink (or any other replacement part you might be needing).
HAWAII: BETHANY HAMILTON
She not only survived a shark attack--which left her without her left arm--but she triumphantly returned to professional surfing shortly after.
Idaho: Lexi DuPont
This professional extreme skier could own a mansion, but instead she calls a 500-square-foot geodesic dome home.
ILLINOIS: DR. AMY LEHMAN
As founder of the Lake Tanganyika Floating Health Clinic, Lehman has literally created a floating hospital to give health care access to millions of people who live in isolated and war-torn regions of Central Africa. Wow.
INDIANA: IU'S "SISTER CIRCLE"
The “Great Eight”-- Jada Phelps Moultrie, Jasmine Haywood, Shannon McCullough, Juhanna Rogers, Demetrees Hutchins, Johari Shuck, Nadrea Njoku and Tiffany Kyser--made history, all earning PhD’s from Indiana University’s School of Education together. Usually the School of Education graduates three to four PhD candidates a year and the number of people of color is even lower. Sooooo YAS QUEENS.
IOWA: MARILYNNE ROBINSON
The Iowa Writers’ Workshop isn’t just a storyline in Girls. It’s one of the best MFA programs in the country thanks to faculty that includes Pulitzer Prize-winning writers like Robinson. (Book reco time: Housekeeping)
KANSAS: RENEE KELLY
We loved her on Top Chef--even though she was gone waaayy too early. Maybe we’ll just have to visit her farm-to-table restaurant, Harvest, which just happens to be inside a historic castle.
KENTUCKY: ATTICA SCOTT
She just won her seat as a Kentucky state representative. It’s been 20 years since a black woman has served in the state’s legislature. No biggie.
LOUISIANA: LEAH CHASE
The inspiration for Tiana in Disney’s The Princess and the Frog, Leah “Dooky” Chase has owned her restaurant, Dooky Chase, for over 60 years. It’s no wonder she’s known as the Queen of Creole Cuisine.
Maine: Elizabeth Strout
Ever heard of a little Pulitzer Prize-winning book (and HBO miniseries) called Olive Kitteridge? Yep, this eighth-generation Maine woman wrote it.
Maryland: Jennifer Lake
After taking over her father’s martial arts studio, this karate instructor has been teaching survival skills to local students for the last 30 years. Basically, she has a black belt in awesome.
MASSACHUSETTS: CADY COLEMAN
The astronaut/chemist/Air Force officer taught Sandra Bullock how to be all astronaut-y in Gravity…oh, and she spent 159 days in space.
MICHIGAN: MAGGIE PARKER
After teaching herself to ride, she became the only woman bull rider to compete against men. So don’t mess with her.
Minnesota: Ilhan Omar
After escaping a civil war in Somalia and spending four years in a Kenyan refugee camp, Omar is on track to become the United States’ first Somali-American legislator. (Ilhan, can we please be friends?)
MISSISSIPPI: SARAH THOMAS
In 2015, Thomas became the first woman ever hired as a full-time official in the NFL. Look for number 153 next time you watch a game.
MISSOURI: JENNIFER WADELLA
MONTANA: LESLIE HITTMEIER
Take skiing, climbing and trail running, then add in some photography and writing. Whoa, talk about #careergoals.
NEBRASKA: LESLIE HARMON & BRENDA DANKERT
The two-woman team is their station’s first all-female fire medic crew (they’re paramedics also trained as firefighters). Both had to pass rigorous training, which includes carrying a 220-pound fire hose. Oh, and they’re both mothers of four.
NEVADA: CATHY "CAT" HULBERT
The card counter has been one of few female professional gamblers since 1976. Her book Outplaying the Boys was published in 2005.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: SY MONTGOMERY
The naturalist is bringing a little magic back into the world with her writing on everything from piglets to octopuses (yep, that’s the plural).
NEW JERSEY: ROSIE NAPRAVNIK
She’s the only woman jockey to compete in all three Triple Crown races. Someone make a biopic about this lady, stat.
NEW MEXICO: Judy Chicago
She not only coined the term “feminist art,” but also founded the first feminist art program in the United States. Her most well-known installation, The Dinner Party, is on permanent exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum.
NEW YORK: MELISSA ALDANA
The Chilean tenor saxophonist because the first South American musician to win the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition. You’ll feel cooler just listening to her play.
NORTH CAROLINA: ANDREA REUSING
Women are running the food industry in North Carolina, and Reusing is a huge part of that revolution with her James Beard Award-winning restaurant, Lantern, in Chapel Hill. If only we could get a reservation…
NORTH DAKOTA: Louise Erdrich
She’s one of the most widely celebrate authors among the second-wave Native American Renaissance, and it’s no wonder--her novel The Round House received the 2012 National Book Award for Fiction. Book club, anyone?
OHIO: Renée Powell
Overcoming sexism? Check. Overcoming racism? Check. Powell is a pioneering golfer in the Ladies Professional Golf Association who recently became one of the first female members of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews--where the sport originated.
Oklahoma: Polly Nichols
This Oklahoma City bombing survivor co-chaired the drive to raise over $21 million to build the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum. She has worked more than 20 causes and organizations in the area (including the Girl Scouts) since 1971.
Oregon: Nichole Maher
At age 22, she became the leader of NAYA, the Native American Youth and Family Center, catapulting its annual budget from $215,000 to over $10 million. Since then, she’s gone on to become the president of the Northwest Health Foundation.
Pennsylvania: Morgan Snyder
When she was an undergrad at the University of Pennsylvania, Snyder and her classmate Spencer Penn co-created Sweet Bites, a xylitol gum aimed at preventing tooth decay in children who don’t have access to dental care.
Rhode Island: Lisa A. Ranglin
This Bank of America VP helped found the Rhode Island Black Business Association, where she works to help companies grow and create new jobs. (Oh, and she was the youngest of nine, which is an accomplishment in itself.)
South Carolina: Jean Hoefer Toal
This retired chief justice was the first woman to serve as a justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court in 1988 and served as chief justice from 2000 to 2015.
South Dakota: Paige McPherson
This member of the U.S. Olympic Taekwondo team learned her moves in her hometown of Sturgis, South Dakota. Oh, and her nickname is “McFierce,” NBD.
Tennessee: Dolly Parton
We had to--she sings, she plays the banjo, she’s a philanthropist, she runs theme parks, she writes iconic songs that make us cry. Is there anything this lady can’t do? (No. The answer is no.)
Texas: Reilly Fox
At 16, this kicker became the first gal to play varsity football at R.L. Paschal High School, and the first female football player in the district in 15 years.
Utah: Misty Snow
This democratic candidate made history when she became the first transgender nominee to run for a seat in the U.S. Senate. You go, girl.
Vermont: Emily Blistein
Since opening her boutique, Clementine, in Middlebury, Blistein has been a mentor to other local women who are looking to start their own businesses.
Virginia: Ginny Thrasher
Whoa, this 19-year-old Virginia native made history when she brought home the gold medal for the women’s 10-meter air rifle competition at the 2016 Olympics.
Washington: Maria Semple
She’s a former writer for Ellen and Mad About You, but most of all, we love her for penning the 2012 New York Times best seller Where’d You Go, Bernadette.
Washington, D.C.: Sasha & Malia Obama
Because they're Just. So. Cool.
West Virginia: Sally Barton
Barton was the founding executive director of the Tamarack Artisan Foundation, an organization that nurtures artists and entrepreneurs. Under her direction, the foundation has raised over $4 million to help West Virginia artists thrive.
Wisconsin: Valerie Daniels-Carter
Since opening a Burger King franchise with her brother in 1984, this restaurant mogul now owns over 100 restaurants throughout the country. Hey, can we get some free fries?