FILIPINO-American immigration activist and journalist Jose Antonio Vargas and Filipina-Australian entrepreneur Melanie Perkins landed on Fortune Magazine’s all-new expansive 40 Under 40 lists that were released Wednesday, September 2.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the many calls to end social injustice and racial inequality that shaped this year, Fortune stepped away from its single list of 40 influential changemakers and presented 40 individuals in five categories of finance, technology, health care, government and politics, and media and entertainment.
“It’s been a year of monumental change,” the magazine wrote in its announcement. “The coronavirus pandemic has touched every aspect of our lives—fundamentally altering the ways in which we work and socialize.”
Describing the individuals selected this year, Daniel Bentley, senior editor at Fortune, said in a video that they “stood up for racial justice, they stood up for inequality, stood up against policy or took a stand to help with the coronavirus.”
Vargas was among leaders in the government and politics category for founding Define American, an organization aimed at shifting conversations around immigrants and identity in the U.S. through media and storytelling.
Having moved to the U.S from the Philippines at the age of 12 as an undocumented immigrant—an experience Vargas first wrote about in an essay for New York Times Magazine in 2011—Vargas went on to accomplish a string of accolades.
“The risk paid off,” wrote Fortune before highlighting Vargas’ Pulitzer Prize for his coverage on the Virginia Tech shooting, his Time magazine cover for his story on immigration, his autobiographical documentary film “Documented,” which aired on CNN, his Emmy-nominated special “White People” created for MTV, his 2018 memoir “Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen,” and his production of the hit Broadway show “What the Constitution Means to Me.”
On Twitter, Vargas said that he was “honored” to be included in Fortune Magazine’s 40 under 40 list as an undocumented entrepreneur.
Among entrepreneurs listed in the technology category was Perkins who made headlines last year after becoming the third richest person in Australia under the age of 40 as the founder of Canva.
In 2016, Perkins was included in Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia list.
Perkins’ passion for graphic design grew from a side job of teaching graphic design to students with traditional programs like Photoshop and InDesign, to eventually founding Canva, a free online design platform which Fortune described as a “viable competitor to the likes of Adobe.”
Even amidst the coronavirus pandemic, the Sydney-based company managed to close a $60 million funding round in June, and is now valued at $6 billion and employing workers not only in Sydney, but in Beijing, China and Manila, Philippines.
Aside from the over 20 million global users who sign on to Canva’s platform each month, some 85% of Fortune 500 companies have signed up for the product.
With many classrooms now moving online due to the pandemic, the company has also dedicated free tools and creative resources for teachers that integrate with Google Classroom to help them better engage their students and foster their learning experiences.
“What’s more, Perkins has become one of Australia’s most successful tech entrepreneurs and one of the world’s youngest female tech unicorn founders,” Fortune wrote.