Maya Penn (Ernest Washington)

At just 16, Maya Penn has already shown the world just a bit of her awesomeness.

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In 2016, she released her debut book, You Got This! Unleash Your Awesomeness, Find Your Path, and Change Your World. She is the CEO of Maya’s Ideas—and an animated filmmaker, philanthropist, environmental activist, author, computer programmer, fashion designer and motivational speaker.

CATEGORY: Enterprise/Corporate Innovation
AGE: 16
HOMETOWN: Atlanta
EDUCATION: Home-schooled
SOCIAL MEDIA: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram

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Maya’s Ideas provides environmentally friendly clothing and jewelry and donates 10-20 percent of its profits to local and global charities. In spring-summer 2017, Maya’s Ideas will release a unique line of eco-friendly clothing inspired by nature. Maya’s Ideas 4 the Planet, the nonprofit offshoot of her business, will soon provide seed grants to young female entrepreneurs who hope to launch their own businesses. Within the year, she hopes to open a larger animation studio to continue producing projects including The Pollinators, an animated series about the environment.

In September, she was honored by Oprah as part of the media mogul’s SuperSoul 100 list. This summer, she created the animation and narration for the first digital report ever presented to Congress. The report was to commission a Women’s History Museum to be built in Washington, D.C. Maya was also honored by former President Barack Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency. In 2013, she presented a TED Talk in San Francisco that has since pulled in more than 1.3 million views.

When you give through your heart, that’s when movements are sparked, that is when opportunities and innovation are created and that is when ideas come to life,” she said in the video.