35. Binta Niambi Brown
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Age: 38

Partner, Kirkland & Ellis

When self-described "problem solver" Binta Brown talks, elected officials listen. It doesn't hurt that she's also one of the country's top black fundraisers, tapping her extensive network to fund political, humanitarian, and cultural initiatives, all while working as a corporate lawyer at Kirkland & Ellis (where she recently made partner). The American Theatre Wing, the New York Philharmonic, and Barnard College (where she is the youngest trustee) have all benefited from Brown's fundraising skills, and she has served as an adviser to New York governors Elliot Spitzer and Andrew Cuomo and to Hillary Clinton when she was a senator. But Brown says she's taking a break from politics for now. Her next goal? Help fund more woman-owned tech startups.

Stress reliever: Rocking out on her electric bass.


  @FortuneMagazine - Last updated October 17 2012 05:11 PM ET
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