Before “influencers” became synonymous with Twitter and Instagram, the word had a much different meaning. Being influential was less about social clout and fancy camera filters and more focused on effecting positive change in the world in ways that would inspire others.
From outer space to your TV screen, the scope of baby boomers’ influence on society knows no bounds. We’ve compiled a list of five iconic and influential baby boomers. These men and women have dedicated their lives to causes and passions that fostered a better world.
June is a pioneer in the immunotherapy field who made a name for himself after successfully developing T-cell therapies for cancer patients. The T-cells that June and his team customized give the immune system a boost, ultimately resulting in remission for patients. His work has led to the first FDA-approved gene therapy, ensuring a promising future for those with leukemia, as well as brain, lung and prostate cancers.
Whitson is a two-time commander of the International Space Station and the former NASA Chief Astronaut. She has made history multiple times. Most notably, with her record 665 days in space over the course of her career, breaking the record for the most total days spent in space by any NASA astronaut. Whitson is also the oldest female astronaut to travel in space, an accolade she earned at age 57.
While he’s well known for his philanthropy today, Bill Gates first cemented his position on any “most influential baby boomers” list in 1975, when he launched Microsoft. As the world’s largest PC software company, Microsoft was successful enough to give Gates the financial security he needed to launch his charitable organization. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to which he has donated more than $28 billion, works globally to enhance healthcare and reduce poverty. In the United States, the foundation focuses on expanding educational opportunities and access to information technology.
Oprah Winfrey put a fresh spin on the talk show genre. Her creation of a warm and genuine conversational space allowed her to explore topics such as fitness, health, mindfulness and literature freely with her audience. The popularity of her talk show launched her into unmatched heights of success within American entertainment culture. Though her time on daytime television has ended, she continues to influence others through her philanthropy and her TV network, OWN. Most of her philanthropy has been directed towards educational causes, including charter schools and programs for African-American students.
When you think of the tech giant Apple, who comes to mind? More than likely, you picture Steve Jobs. While Jobs was the man with the vision, Steve Wozniak was the man with the plan. Co-founder Wozniak was the true builder behind Apple Inc. His experience as an inventor, an electronics engineer and a programmer enabled him to bring all of Job’s ideas to life. Without Wozniak as an integral part of the dream team, it’s possible Apple wouldn’t be the household name it is today.
Is there an influential baby boomer that you admire? Let us know who you would put on your list of most influential adults over 55.