made history on June 27 when he became the first black and the youngest person ever to complete a solo flight around the world. He refused to let anything stop him from achieving this feat–not even the fact that he didn’t own a plane. Irving took bold steps to make his dream possible, asking manufacturers to donate plane parts and securing $300,000 in donated components. One of the donors, Columbia Aircraft Manufacturing, even agreed to assemble the plane. Irving currently runs Experience Aviation Inc., a nonprofit organization he founded in 2005 as a way to encourage young people to pursue careers in aviation and aerospace.
Mellody Hobson, President / Ariel Capital Management L.L.C. / 38. Why she’s hot: As president of Chicago-based mutual fund company Ariel Capital Management L.L.C. (No.2 on the be asset managers list with $16 billion in assets under management), Hobson is responsible for all of Ariel’s businesses outside of research and portfolio management. In 2006, she was appointed chairman of Ariel Mutual Funds Board of Trustees. Hobson continues to be an advocate of investor education in her role as a spokeswoman for the Ariel Mutual Funds/Charles Schwab Black Investor Survey and has found inventive ways to expose African Americans to Ariel and the value of investing. In fact, the firm became a sponsor of the Oprah Winfrey-produced musical, The Color Purple, this year.
Melanie Kinchen, M.D., Medical Director, Orthopaedic Surgeon / Presbyterian Intercom-munity Hospital Spine Center/ 38. Why she’s hot: Kinchen is a highly specialized adult and pediatric spine surgeon. Known for her new-motion preserving techniques such as disc replacement and herniation treatments, she is considered one of the best in her field. When individuals have been told by their doctors that they’ll never walk again, many patients have come to Kinchen, a Harvard Medical School graduate with 12 years of experience, to reverse that prognosis. Her innovative approach to spine and scoliosis surgery minimizes incision scars and reduces the amount of tissue damage and blood loss that often occur during surgery. In addition, she is widely recognized as the expert in highly complex adult deformity and reconstruction.
Alicia Keys, Singer, Songwriter, Actress / 26. Why she’s hot: As a singer, songwriter, actress, and author, Keys continues to evolve as a powerhouse entertainer and businesswoman. This year, she has demonstrated her prowess across media by launching her third studio album, As I Am, and displaying her acting chops in the films Smokin’ Aces and The Nanny Diaries. Keys is flexing her business muscles as co-owner of KrucialKeys, an entertainment production and merchandising company. Although she’s won dozens of awards, including nine Grammys, Keys appears to be making a big name for herself as a philanthropist. She serves as Ambassador of Keep A Child Alive, a charity that builds clinics and provides antiretroviral drugs to Africans infected with the HIV virus.
Paulianda Jones, M.D., Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine / 28. Why she’s hot: Jones’ research focuses on the development and discovery of potential therapeutic treatments for neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s