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These powerful women show this is no longer just a man’s world

Compiled by the women of The Express


One of the most influential women of our time eloquently captured the spirit of Women’s History Month.

“There’s something so special about a woman who dominates in a man’s world. It takes a certain grace, strength, intelligence, fearlessness and the nerve to never take no for an answer.”

No truer words has Rihanna spoken. OK, maybe “I think women want freedom. They want to be empowered. They want hope. They want love; they want all the things that I want, and I’m not afraid to say those things and act on them, and I think that’s why they identify with me,”was equally true.

Wherever you find people, you will find great women. But the Bay Area is ripe with exemplary women that Rihanna so frequently references. This is home, either by origin or by choice, to some of the most impactful and relevant women in the world. Pioneers. Society shapers. Innovators. Trend setters. Cultural icons.

We celebrate Women’s History Month by recognizing the modern gems in our own backyard.


Ayesha Curry

Her husband is a global superstar because of his basketball exploits. Still, she has managed to forge her own equally impressive career.

What doesn’t Ayesha Curry do? Since moving to the Bay Area with her husband, Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry, Ayesha has grown into a mogul.

She has taken the world of cuisine by storm covering all the parameters of culinary with an endless list of achievements. She has a best-selling cookbook and cooking show. She opened a popular restaurant in San Francisco. She became the first face of CoverGirl who is not an actress, singer or influencer, according to Glamour Magazine. Ayesha is making her name known all over, landing in the Forbes 30 under 30 list of 2018 in the food and drink category.

Ayesha is a national best selling author of“The Seasoned Life,” recipes geared toward the home chef, striving for the quick and easy meals. Ayesha has launched her own meal planning subscription service called Homemade. With the same ideals in mind as her book, Ayesha continues to make dinner time easy and back to the kitchen table. She also has her own cookware line and hosts her own cooking show on Food Network, “Ayesha’s Home Kitchen.”

Adding another culinary accomplishment to the list, Ayesha launched International Smoke with Chef Michael Mina, providing a global palette in the heart of Mission Street in San Francisco.

Ayesha is also co-founder of Cheeky Kids, which sells dinnerware from paper products, reusable mealtime and on-the go-products. Cheeky Kids is partnered up with No Kid Hungry to end childhood hunger in the U.S. For every pack sold, a child gets a meal.


Oakland native Zendaya grew up dancing in a variety of groups like Hip-Hop with Future Shock Oakland and hula dancing at the Academy of Hawaiian Arts. Attending Oakland School for the Arts and performing in the California Shakespeare Theater and at the American Conservatory Theater, Zendaya shaped her craft with the influences of the Oakland arts.

She made her television debut in 2010 on Disney’s show “Shake It Up,” then signed a record deal with Hollywood Records in 2012. Zendaya made a celebrity appearance on “Dancing with the Stars” in 2013, making it to second place.

Not only is Zendaya a triple threat to entertainment, she is not afraid to speak out about what she believes in. Going after manipulated pictures of her body in Modelist Magazine, clapping back to comments about stereotypes about her ethnicity on Grammy Red Carpets and becoming the face of CoverGirl in Jan. 2016, Zendaya has become a rising young influencer made from the best of the Bay.

Alicia Garza

One of the most powerful voices in media today, Garza, an activist and writer, co-founded the Black Lives Matter movement, which, when it hit social media, changed the world. The hashtag became a movement.

The Black Lives Matter Movement was started as a response to the murder of Trayvon Martin in 2012. Magnifying the issue on social platforms gave everyone the chance to communicate the injustice that happens in our country.

The Oakland-based activist, writer and believer in freedom has been featured in Time, The Guardian and The New York Times. Garza currently works as a Special Projects Director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance. She has received numerous awards such as 2016 Glamour Women of the Year Award, 2016 Marie Claire New Guard Award, Community Change Agent at the 2016 BET’s Black Girls Rock Awards and Root’s 2016 list of 100 African American achievers and influencers

Amy Trask

Trask is known as one of the highest-ranking women in American professional sports. Her love for the Raiders started when she was a student at UC Berkeley, where she graduated in 1982 with a political science degree.

After graduation, Trask would then follow the Raiders as she enrolled at USC Gould School of Law. In 1983, she landed an internship with the Los Angeles Raiders Legal Department.

Fourteen years after her internship with the Raiders, Trask became the first woman CEO in the NFL. Resigning in May 2013, Trask spent 25 seasons with the Raiders. Trask is currently working as a CBS sports analyst. In 2016 she wrote a book called “You Negotiate Like a Girl: Reflections on a Career in the National Football League” about her journey climbing to CEO with any regard to gender.

Stevie Nicks

The rock goddess was born in Phoenix and made her way to California when her family moved to Los Angeles in 1963 where she attended high school. She eventually made her way to Northern California, attending San Jose State University (formerly known as San Jose State College) before deciding to drop out in 1968 to join a local band.

Nicks was a California girl at heart, opting to stay behind when her entire family relocated to Chicago later that year, which in turn was the decision that would eventually land her a one-way ticket to fame. She signed with Fleetwood Mac in 1975 and the rest is history.

By 1981 she had seen multiple No. 1 songs on the Billboard and decided to release her first solo album. However, with the fame came a price. By 1985, Nicks’ solo album only reached platinum and an intense cocaine drug addiction had developed. She took matters into her own hands and embarked on self-driven path for recovery.

Since her recovery, Nicks has appeared on television series such as the popular “American Horror Story.” She also continues to play at shows for the thousands of fans she was able to impact with her soulful music.

Dian Fossey

Born in San Francisco, Dian studied at the University of California. Because she found the chemistry and physics courses challenging, Fossey transferred to San Jose State College, graduating in 1954 in occupational therapy.

Fossey’s legacy lays with her conservation work with gorillas in Rwanda and Uganda after she realized they were being hunted by poachers. Fearing their extinction, Fossey founded the Karisoke Research center in the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda.

Beginning with studying their behaviors, Fossey gained the trust of the Mountain Gorillas and began observing their social behaviors. She grew a special bond with one gorilla named Digit, whom she found when he was five years old. Digit was stabbed and killed while protecting his troop from poachers.

Fossey used Digit to raise a tone to the awareness of the gorillas and raise funds to fight against the poachers. Mountain gorillas are now one of the most-endangered animals on earth, with fewer than 880 remaining, according to the International Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.

With her 1983 autobiography about her findings in Rwanda, “Gorillas in the Mist,” Fossey became a best-selling author. Fossey was featured in “National Geographic” in January 1970. Fossey changed the way people perceived gorillas with photographs that captured her relationship with the kong-like beasts.

Ruth Asawa

Ruth Aiko Asawa was a woman of multiple talents leaving her mark on the world in the 87 years she contributed to American culture and education. Born Jan. 24, 1926, in Newark, California, and raised by parents who were immigrants from Japan, Asawa’s life was turbulent growing up.

Asawa and her family were then sent to an internment camp. The positive twist to this is that this is where she studied art.

Asawa is known for her creation of the Ghirardelli Square Fountain in San Francisco and referred to as “The Fountain Lady.” Another local accomplishment was her creation of the San Francisco School of Fine Arts, which was later named after her as Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of Arts in 2010.

Asawa’s passion was not focused on her own art endeavors alone. In 1968 she lobbied for politicians and charitable foundations that supported arts programs benefiting young children, helping co-found the Alvarado Arts Workshop for school-aged children. She was a believer in “learning by doing” making available hands-on experience for children. In addition, she connected children to professional artists through a program knowing that teachers in the school system could not do it all. Her activism was followed up in 1982 by building public arts high school.

Some of her other artwork is included in the art collections of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.

In her later years, Asawa continued to serve this community by being on the California Arts Council, the National Endowment of the arts in 1976, and was a trustee from 1989-1997 for the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.


These biographies were compiled from the following sources:,,,

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