When Waters opened the world-famous restaurant Chez Panisse in 1971, she never imagined that offering “real food” would help spark a revolution. More than anyone else, she is responsible for the movement to eat fresh foods that are grown locally and sustainably. Her latest focus, the Edible Schoolyard Project, aims to get children into the garden and kitchen to change the way we eat, one student at time. Follow her on Twitter @AliceWaters.
It’s hard to remember the time before “Google” became both a verb and one of the world’s most powerful forces for change. As the executive chairman of Google (and its former CEO), Schmidt has led the company through more than a decade of unprecedented expansion into politics, business, culture, privacy, copyright, and other broad interests. He also tackles issues of ever-increasing personal and global importance, including the responsible use of natural resources. Schmidt was named the Cal Alumni Association’s 2012 Alumnus of the Year. Follow him on Google+ or Twitter @ericschmidt.
McGonigal has a vision that games will change the world. How? They take us on epic missions, present us with urgent challenges, and offer exhilarating rewards. A pioneer in alternate reality games that aim to improve real lives and solve problems such as poverty, hunger, and climate change, McGonigal includes EVOKE, Superstruct, and World Without Oil among her best-known projects. MIT Technology Review named her one of the top 35 innovators changing the world through technology. Follow McGonigal on Facebook or Twitter @avantgame.
While some believe the world will end in fire, Perlmutter argues that it will end in ice. A physics professor at UC Berkeley and senior scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Perlmutter led one of the two teams that simultaneously discovered the accelerating expansion of the universe. He received the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics. The discovery led to speculation that a “dark energy” is pushing the universe apart until, in the distant future, it will be cold and dark. Perlmutter is working with NASA and the Department of Energy to build the first space-based observatory designed to understand this enigmatic force.
Governor Brown is both one of California’s youngest governors — having served two terms from 1975–83, during which time he focused on energy efficiency, crime fighting, environmental protection, and farmworkers’ rights — and its oldest. Since reclaiming the title in 2010, he has cut the state budget deficit and government inefficiencies, raised the clean energy goal to 33 percent, and is seeking new revenues to protect education and public safety. He also served as Oakland’s mayor from 1998–2006, revitalizing a downtown that had been dormant for decades. Find Governor Brown on Facebook and Twitter @JerryBrownGov.
The daughter of a former slave, Jackson (1902–1996) was one of only 17 African-American students at Berkeley when she started in 1920. During her freshman year, she and a few friends co-founded the Rho chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority to help make the campus more hospitable to young African-American women. Jackson went on to become the first African-American woman certified to teach in California and the first black teacher in the Oakland public schools.
While Goldman (1920–2010) made a living as an insurance broker, he made his name as a philanthropist. In addition to the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, which has dispensed more than $680 million locally and internationally since 1951, the Goldman Environmental Prize has honored more than 150 grassroots organizers for addressing some of the world’s most pressing environmental challenges. Often facing great personal risk, winners include those who have sought justice for victims of a deadly gas leak in Bhopal, India, led the fight for dolphin-safe tuna, halted deforestation in Brazil, and fought oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
The Mulleavy sisters are the fashion design duo behind Rodarte, sold by more than 40 leading retailers worldwide. Melding elaborate details with imaginative shapes and textures, Rodarte’s masterful designs have caught the eye of international style icons, museums, even Hollywood — dancers donned their costumes in Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan — and are reaping awards across the realms of fashion and art. Find Rodarte on Facebook or Twitter @officialrodarte.
From the classroom to the lab to the White House, Chu has addressed the enormity of climate change through the tireless pursuit of renewable and sustainable energy sources. Awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for developing laser techniques to cool and trap atoms and molecules, Chu is now the U.S. secretary of energy. He is charged with implementing President Obama’s ambitious agenda to invest in clean energy, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and create new jobs. The Cal Alumni Association named Chu its 2011 Alumnus of the Year. Follow him on Facebook.