37. Benjamin Jealous
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Age: 39

President and CEO, NAACP

It's a family calling. A fifth-generation member of the NAACP, Jealous became its youngest president in 2008, having spent much of his early career as a journalist, investigating official corruption and looking out for the little guy (followed by a stint setting up Amnesty International's U.S. human rights program). A Rhodes Scholar, Jealous has brought some serious management chops to the task. Under his shrewd leadership, the civil rights organization's revenue has grown 10% annually, as its donor base has swelled almost 10-fold. Now that Jealous has put the NAACP's finances in order, he's serious about helping its hardest-hit members do the same for themselves. With black unemployment at record highs, Jealous has expanded its programs to include economic literacy training, as well as taking education, health, and environmental justice initiatives national.

Need for speed: Swooshing down frozen mountains as a kid with his Maine-bred dad turned Jealous into an avid skier.

--Benjamin Schenkel

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