40 Next

Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins 34
Green for All Oakland, CA

Ellis-Lamkins’ goal is to build a green economy, inclusive of people of color as well as those in low-income and underserved communities, who are traditionally shut out of  the “new economy.” Under Ellis-Lamkins’ leadership since March 2009, the national not-for-profit scored major legislative victories on state-level green jobs and energy-efficiency programs in Washington State and New Mexico as well as responsibly investing federal Recovery Act dollars for environmental and economic health. But part of her advocacy is engagement–getting people involved within their local communities. “It’s critical. If we don’t do something, it’s only going to get worse for our community,” says Ellis-Lamkins, who adds the first step is behavioral change. “There’s a long way to go but we’ve come incredibly far in this short amount of time. This is a moment where everything is possible.”

–Tennille M. Robinson

Roland Fryer Jr. 33
Robert M. Beren Professor of Economics
Harvard University Cambridge, MA

It’s quite a feat for any economist to earn some of Harvard’s most coveted fellowships and become its youngest-ever African American tenured professor by the age of 30. It’s another achievement entirely to consistently produce economic research that doesn’t put non-economists to sleep. His body of work is an investigation into the causes of economic inequality and the gap between blacks and other races in classroom and workplace achievement. Fryer’s must-read published research, including An Empirical Analysis of Acting White and The Causes and Consequences of Distinctly Black Names helped land him on The Economist’s list of the world’s top young economists and Time magazine’s 2009 list of the world’s 100 most influential people.

–John Simons

Darnell Henderson 32
H.I.M-istry Skincare Inc. Miami

Henderson delivers all-natural men’s skincare products, including cleansers, toners, and scrubs, to the male masses. To date, H.I.M-istry is sold online and in more than 100 Macy’s department stores nationwide. In 2009, the enterprise produced revenues of $1.6 million and projects revenues of $2.3 million in 2010.