Exactly 20 years ago, the the Dec. 5, 1994, issue of TIME made a gamble, predicting the 50 people who were the most promising leaders for the future.
The magazine’s editors selected “50 for the Future”: 50 people under the age of 40, from the worlds of politics, science, activism, business, media and the arts, who seemed poised to take charge of America’s next steps. They had, David Van Biema wrote, “the requisite ambition, vision and community spirit to help guide us in the new millennium.” We decided to see just how well that group has turned out. Whatever happened to that Bill Gates guy, anyway?
Tundi Agardy, then 37 and a marine biologist
The World Wildlife Fund scientist made it to the original list for the way she used her hard-science chops to advocate for conservation. During the past two decades, she has continued that work, founding the marine conservation organization Sound Seas; leading the Marine Ecosystem Services Program at Forest Trends, a nonprofit that uses business ideas to protect the environment; and participating in the United Nations-led Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.
Helen Alvaré, then 34 and an antiabortion leader
The self-described “pro-life feminist” lawyer was the U.S. spokesperson on the subject of abortion, on behalf of Catholic bishops. She left her job with the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2000, after which she began teaching at the George Mason University School of Law. She has received several awards for her service to the Church, and continues to consult for the Pontifical Council for the Laity.
Marc Andreessen, then 23 and co-creator of Mosaic
Andreessen’s Mosaic browser and the company he founded, Netscape, landed him on the cover of TIME in February 1996. In recent years Andreessen, 43, has become one of Silicon Valley’s most successful venture capitalists through his firm Andreessen Horowitz with payoffs from Twitter, Facebook and Skype. He is now one of the tech industry’s most visible leaders. He is on Twitter at @pmarca.
Evan Bayh, then 38 and Governor of Indiana
After two terms as Governor of Indiana, Bayh, 58, served in the Senate for twelve years until 2011. The Democratic lawmaker flirted with running for president in 2007, but ultimately endorsed then-Senator Hillary Clinton. He is now a partner at DC lobbying firm McGuireWoods.
Dr. Regina Benjamin, then 38 and a rural health-care provider
With an M.D. and an MBA, Benjamin took advantage of a federal program to fund her practice in coastal Alabama. After continuing to work in healthcare in the region during Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, she was named Surgeon General of the United States by President Barack Obama in 2009. She resigned in 2013 and was appointed to an endowed chair in public health sciences at Xavier University.
Henry Bonilla, then 40 and a Texas Congressman
The Texan was a frequent surrogate for President George W. Bush, but redistricting made his seat more favorable for Democrats, and he lost re-election in 2006 after serving seven terms in the House. He is now a partner at the Washington government relations firm The Normandy Group.
John Bryant, then 28 and founder of Operation HOPE Inc.
Bryant continues to serve as the founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Operation HOPE Inc. In 2008 he was appointed by President George W. Bush to be vice-chair of the President’s Council on Financial Literacy. President Barack Obama appointed him Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Underserved and Community Empowerment for the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability, where he focused on forming local financial literacy councils in cities across the country.
William Burns, then 38 and a foreign-service officer
After 33 years at the State Department, Burns retired in November 2014 as Deputy Secretary of State, the department’s number two, under Secretary of State John Kerry. One of the most decorated diplomats of his time, Burns continues to play a role in the P5+1 Iran nuclear negotiations. In February of 2015 he will become the next president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Stephen Carter, then 40 and a law professor at Yale University
The William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Yale Law School, Carter is a renowned fiction and nonfiction author of titles like The Violence of Peace: America’s Wars in the Age of Obama and The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln. He has taught and written extensively about the law and ethics of war and is also a columnist for Bloomberg View.
Sean Carroll, then 33 and a molecular biologist and inventor
A co-founder of Ophidian Pharmaceuticals, Carroll (not to be confused with the CalTech theoretical physicist of the same name) also used his non-commercial side to study butterfly wings in order to investigate the relationship between genes and evolution. In addition to contributing to the Science section of the New York Times, Carroll has written several books about evolution for popular audiences. One of them was a finalist for the 2009 National Book Award for non-fiction. His latest, Brave Genius, was released last year.
Christopher Chyba, then 35 and a planetary scientist
His research on comets and asteroids concluded that Earth was unlikely to be majorly damaged by a collision with one, and he worked with the White House to make sure that planetary damage wouldn’t come from unsecured nukes either. He received a MacArthur ‘Genius’ grant in 2001, and is now director of the Program on Science and Global Security at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University.
James Dimon, then 38 and president of Travelers Group
Back in 1994, about a decade after founding the New York Academy of Finance — a program that prepped underprivileged kids for Wall Street jobs — he was considered one of the stock world’s top 10 figures. Now, as CEO of JPMorgan Chase, “Jamie” Dimon has since become even more recognizable in the Wall Street world. Though the bank has not had a completely smooth run in recent years — the “London Whale” mess cost it billions — he is credited with helping JPMorgan Chase get through the financial crisis with minimal damage. He has been a frequent honoree on TIME’s annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world, and currently ranks at #18 on the Forbes list of the most powerful people in the world.
Chaka Fattah, then 38 and a Pennsylvania Congressman-elect
About to enter his 11th term representing parts of Philadelphia in the House of Representatives, Fattah is the ranking member of the House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies and the Vice Chair on the House Gun and Violence Task Force.
Bill Gates, then 39 and co-founder of Microsoft Corp.
Gates was already America’s richest man in 1994 (TIME estimated his net worth at $9.35 billion) — but Forbes now estimates his net worth at a whopping $82.1 billion. And while Microsoft continues to chug along, he now dedicates much of his energy to the major philanthropic organization that is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which he and his wife launched in 2000.
Dr. Pedro Jose Greer Jr., then 38 and an advocate for the homeless
Not content to provide healthcare for the homeless by visiting them on the streets and in public parks, Greer had founded four free clinics to make sure they got the best care possible. Since 1994, he has continued to provide healthcare for underserved populations in Florida and teach at the Florida International University School of Medicine. His autobiography, Waking Up in America, was released in 1999, and in 2009 he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
John Kaliski, then 38 and an urban architect
Kaliski used a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to research L.A.’s urban sprawl, to help avoid mistakes as the cities of the future were built. In 2000, he founded the architecture firm that carries his name, and he is a co-author of the book Everyday Urbanism. He continues to design award-winning projects throughout California.
John F. Kennedy Jr., then 34 and a health-care entrepreneur
In 1995, JFK, Jr. founded the short-lived political/fashion magazine George. He died in 1999 after losing control of his Piper Saratoga airplane in a crash that also killed his wife and sister-in-law.
Randall Kennedy, then 40 and a Harvard law professor
A nationally recognized expert on race issues, Kennedy is the Michael R. Klein Professor of Law at Harvard Law School where he continues to write about race, discrimination, and the law.
Alan Khazei, then 33 and co-director of City Year
By co-founding the “public-service entrepreneurship” that had, by 1994, helped hundreds of people find yearlong jobs, Khazei recruited corporations to help pick up the tab. City Year also inspired President Clinton to start AmeriCorps. Since then, Khazei also founded Be the Change, a nonprofit of which he’s now CEO, which promotes service among an even wider swath of the population. His runs for Senate in Massachusetts, however, have proved unsuccessful.
Ronald A. Klain, then 33 and chief of staff to Janet Reno
Klain was chief of staff to two vice presidents, Al Gore and Joe Biden. His role in the 2000 Florida recount was immortalized by Kevin Spacey in the HBO movie Recount. He is now serving as the White House’s Ebola Response Coordinator and is rumored to be next in line to be President Barack Obama’s chief of staff or senior advisor.
Wendy Kopp, then 27, Founder of Teach for America
In 1994, Teach for America was active in 17 districts and received a few thousand applications for 500 positions. Kopp’s organization has since become one the biggest movers in the education. In the 2013-14 school year, according to TFA’s numbers, 750,000 students nationwide were taught by 11,000 TFA teachers. The organization has also expanded to include Teach for All, a global education network, and Kopp has written two books.
Samuel LaBudde, then 38 and a biologist
A video LaBudde shot while undercover on a Panamanian tuna boat helped make dolphin-safe tuna a national issue. He has continued to work for environmental causes in the years since.
Winona LaDuke, then 35 and a Native American rights activist
A two-time vice presidential candidate on the Green Party ticket, LaDuke is the executive director of environmental non-profits the White Earth Land Recovery Project and Honor the Earth. She has worked extensively to raise the political awareness and clout of Native American tribes.
Maya Lin, then 35, a sculptor and architect
In the last two decades, Lin’s art and architecture projects have continued to make news. About five years ago, Lin, who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., announced that a new project called What Is Missing? would be her “last memorial”: the project memorializes environmental loss with a web site, art installations and a foundation. She will be working on it, she has said, for the rest of her life.
Roderick von Lipsey, then 35 and a Major in the U.S. Marine Corps
After 20 years as a Marine Corps Aviator, during which he served as director of the National Security Council and as a senior aide to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, von Lipsey is now a Managing Director at UBS Financial Services, Inc. in Washington in the firm’s private wealth practice.
Jonathan Lunine, then 35 and a planetary astronomer
Then head of NASA’s Solar System Exploration Committee, he was studying whether it would one day be possible to send a manned mission to Mars. (By 2030, maybe, he guessed.) He has continued to advise NASA — he worked on the 2011 Juno mission to Saturn — and he teaches at Cornell. (Manned missions to Mars remain an idea of the future — but Lunine may yet be proved right.)
Frank Luntz, then 32 and a Republican pollster and analyst
The GOP messaging guru who popularized terms like the “death tax” and “climate change” and the man behind Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America has worked extensively in American and international politics on behalf of conservative candidates. In 2010 he branded the Affordable Care Act a “government takeover” of healthcare, a talking-point used extensively by Republicans as they retook the House of Representatives. He is also a prominent commentator on Fox News.
Wynton Marsalis, then 33 and a Jazz musician
Not content to be a virtuoso trumpeter, Marsalis was also an ambassador of jazz, dedicating his time to visiting schools and introducing the music to a new generation. Since 1994, he has received the National Medal of the Arts and a Pulitzer Prize, and has been appointed a U.N. Messenger of Peace. Jazz at Lincoln Center, the program he helped found, is now one of New York City’s leading jazz venues, and Marsalis remains one of the genre’s most famous players.
Fred McClure, then 40 and a corporate consultant
Now the Chief Executive Officer of the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation, McClure was an aide to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Then-Governor George W. Bush appointed him to the Board of Regents of the Texas A&M University. He was previously a managing partner of the international law firm, SNR Denton.
Cynthia McKinney, then 39 and a Congresswoman from Georgia
McKinney served six terms in the House of Representatives, become a vocal critic of the Bush administration and the Iraq War. She gained notoriety for accusing the Bush administration of having advance warning of the 9/11 attacks and allowing them to take place, and has since become a vocal critic of American interventions overseas. She was twice defeated by Democratic primary challengers before abandoning the party. She was the Green Party’s presidential nominee in 2008.
Wayne Meisel, then 35 and founder of COOL
After leaving the foundation he helped found, Meisel, who is a Presbyterian minister, served as Director of Faith and Service at the Cousins Foundation in Atlanta. Earlier this year, he became the founding director of a new center at the McCormick Theological Seminary, focusing on the intersection of religion and public service.
Nancy-Ann Min, then 37 and a White House budget official
Nancy-Ann Min DeParle served as President Barack Obama’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy from January 2011 to January 2013 after a stint as director of the White House Office of Health Reform. She coordinated the administration’s efforts to pass and implement the landmark Affordable Care Act in 2010. She is currently a Partner & Co-Founder at Consonance Capital Partners, a healthcare-focused private equity firm.
Albert Mohler, 35, and president of the Southern Baptist Seminary
Only about two years after becoming president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, he returned the school to older traditions, by forcing out the school’s first female theological professor—and he promised to spread his values throughout the Baptist community. He remains president of the Seminary to this day.
Susan Molinari, then 36 and a Congresswoman from New York
After three terms in the House, Molinari quit Congress to take a job at CBS News. She later became a Washington lobbyist and now runs Google’s Washington, D.C. office, where she is Vice President of Public Policy and Government Relations.
Charles Munn, then 39 and a conservationist-zoologist
Munn turned a love of birds into a career in conserving their tropical habits, particularly by encouraging ecotourism and promoting land-management by tribal communities from the areas in question. One of his more recent ecotourism ventures was a jaguar-focused photo-safari center in Brazil.
Jim Nussle, then 34 and a Congressman from Iowa
Now the president of the Credit Union National Association, Nussle served in the House from 1991-2007, where he was chairman of the House budget Committee. In 2007, President George W. Bush selected him to run the White House Office of Management and Budget.
Ralph Reed, then 33 and Executive director of the Christian Coalition
The conservative political activist became one of the leading evangelical powerbrokers in Republican politics, despite a brief fall from grace in the late 1990s and ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Reed now runs the Faith and Freedom Coalition, a nonprofit organization whose conferences are regularly attended by Republican presidential hopefuls.
Condoleezza Rice, then 40 and Provost of Stanford University
During the 2000 Bush campaign, Rice took a leave of absence from Stanford to serve as the then-Texas governor’s top foreign policy advisor. When he won the White House, she was selected as his first National Security Advisor, a position she held until 2005 when she was nominated to be the first black woman to serve as Secretary of State. After Bush left office, Rice returned to Stanford, where she is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. One of the first two women invited to join the Augusta National Golf Club, she also serves as a member of the College Football Playoff Selection Committee and is frequently mentioned as a possible successor as commissioner of the National Football League.
John Rogers, then 36 and a mutual-fund manager
Notable for his relatively frugal lifestyle, the stock savant was the first African American president of the Chicago Park District and helped put dozens of inner-city students through school. He remains Chairman and CEO of Ariel Investments, the company he founded, while serving as the chair of the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability for Young Americans, which councils the President on how to work toward future economic stability by educating young people about how money works.
Jeffrey Sachs, then 40 and an economist
The director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, Sachs has put his economics background to use as an advisor on developing countries across the globe. The author of books like The End of Poverty, Sachs is one of the leading thinkers on sustainable economic development and has twice been named to the TIME 100.
Bret Schundler, then 35 and Mayor of Jersey City
As the Republican lawmaker of a Democratic city, Schundler drew acclaim as a reformer until he left office in 2001. He twice unsuccessfully ran for governor of New Jersey and briefly served as Commissioner of Education under New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in 2010.
Tavis Smiley, then 30 and a radio talk-show host
These days, Smiley does television too: his eponymous PBS talk show is in its tenth year. He’s written more than a dozen books and, in 1999, started a foundation focused on mentorship and leadership.
Lawrence Summers, then 40 and Treasury Under Secretary
The outspoken economist quickly rose to be President Bill Clinton’s final Treasury Secretary, where he led efforts to deregulate the financial sector. After leaving office, he became the 27th President of Harvard University, where he had a tumultuous tenure. After President Barack Obama was elected in 2008, he selected Summers to be Director of the National Economic Council, a post from which he helped lead the administration’s response to the global financial crisis. He left the White House in 2010.
Terri Swearingen, then 37 and an environmental activist
Concerned with a hazardous-waste processing incinerator too near her local elementary school, she devoted herself to the environment, went on a hunger strike and ended up influencing national environmental policy. In 1997, she was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize. She has stayed out of the news in recent years.
Urvashi Vaid, then 36 and a gay-rights advocate
She was the first woman of color to head up the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Her first book came out in 1996; she has written or edited two more since. In 2012, she helped launch the first lesbian political action committee, and since 2011 she has been the director of a Columbia University project that examines the role of tradition in the success or failure of gender justice advocacy.
Fidel Vargas, then 26 and Mayor of Baldwin Park, California
After a successful career in private equity, Vargas is now the President and CEO of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, which provides scholarships for Latino students to succeed in college.
Kevin Vigilante, then 40 and Founder of Community Outreach Clinic
After a failed run for Congress, Vigilante returned to treating female HIV patients in Rhode Island. He now works at Booz Allen Hamilton, where he consults with government clients about public health topics.
Rebecca Walker, then 25 and co-founder of Third Wave
The Third Wave Foundation continues to be dedicated to encouraging female leaders of the future, registering female voters and making feminism work for women of color. In the last two decades, Walker has also written or edited more than a half-dozen books. She teaches memoir writing, and in 2009, she co-founded Write to Wellbeing, a business that helps writers improve their lives.
Oprah Winfrey, then 40 and a talk-show host
Her talk-show business was making her more than $50 million a year, and her openness about her own past had helped get the National Child Protection Act through Congress. Twenty years later, her earnings, her power and her media empire are even bigger. She remains, in short, Oprah.
Naomi Wolf, then 32 and a feminist author
The author of The Beauty Myth was credited with bringing feminism “back to life” when she accused the cosmetics industry of hobbling advancement for women. Wolf — who has also worked as a political consultant and in the nonprofit space — continues to inspire conversation with her writing, as with her 2013 book Vagina: A New Biography.
Read the full 1994 list of 50 future leaders here, in the TIME Vault: A New Generation of Leaders
Correction: Luntz coined the phrase “climate change” instead of “global warming.”
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