From Food Reviewers To Climate Activists, Meet Some Change-Makers From This Year's Forbes '30 Under 30'

Keith Lee; Franziska Trautmann and Max Steitz; Dylan Mulvaney

Earlier this week, Forbes released its 2024 edition of 30 Under 30, an annual list that highlights 600 young go-getters across 20 industries in North America.

With the help of independent judges, the Forbes editorial team evaluated over 11,000 candidates to compile this list, full of innovative entrepreneurs, culturally impactful artists — and our favorite: do-gooders.

While there is certainly some criticism of the 30 Under 30 competition — including Forbes’s own “Hall of Shame” for past honorees who have become more dubious household names — the annual list, like its cousins “Spotify Wrapped” and “TIME Person of the Year,” give us a cultural touchpoint to reflect upon.

More importantly, it introduces us to people who are making a difference in the world, who inspire us with bold and exciting solutions, and make the world (and the internet!) a more welcoming, inclusive place.

With that in mind, we’ve compiled our own small list of activists and change-makers you shouldn’t overlook in this year’s 30 Under 30.

These Activists Were Among This Year’s Forbes ‘30 Under 30’

Dylan Mulvaney

TikTok Creator, @dylanmulvaney

Dylan Mulvaney
Dylan Mulvaney. Photo via Instagram

Seemingly overnight, Dylan Mulvaney has turned into a household name. The transgender actress, comedian, and content creator hard-launched her transition through a TikTok series called “Days of Girlhood,” where she highlighted her journey every day in front of millions of viewers — receiving over a billion views.

While the past year has brought a slew of political vitriol her way, Mulvaney has stood firm in her positive demeanor, while still setting boundaries. 

One of the most enjoyable and expressive LGBTQ+ influencers to follow, Mulvaney is a shining example of joy, hope, and empowerment for trans folks everywhere.

→ Check out Dylan’s essay about her first Pride as a trans woman!

Leah Thomas & Kiana Kazemi

Co-founders, Intersectional Environmentalist

Leah Thomas and Kiana Kazemi
Leah Thomas (left) and Kiana Kazemi (right). Photos courtesy of William Camargo and Kiana Kazemi

In 2020, Leah Thomas took to Instagram to teach the world what it meant to practice intersectional environmentalism.

Soon after, she launched a nonprofit and educational hub: Intersectional Environmentalist. The climate justice collective creates and shares educational resources for over 500,000 followers and consults for major companies.

Thomas brought Kiana Kazemi on board as a co-founder and programming director of the organization while Kazemi was a student at UC Berkeley, and last year, Thomas published her book, “The Intersectional Environmentalist.” 

Together, the pair leads a team of thoughtful, optimistic climate justice leaders who hope to save the world. 

Read a full Q&A with Leah Thomas

Keith Lee

TikTok Creator, @keith_lee125

Keith Lee
Keith Lee. Photo via Instagram

Keith Lee is TikTok’s resident food reviewer, whose viral videos have helped hundreds of local restaurants and struggling eateries survive an unpredictable economy.

Lee is a former professional fighter and father of two who has now accumulated over 15 million followers on TikTok, with his food review videos garnering over 630 million likes. 

Every time he reviews a new place, the masses follow. He also encourages viewers to donate to local business owners’ Venmo or Cashapp, to help them succeed further.

“We went from not being able to pay the bills to now having to hire people to come and help us,” Yasser Zermeno, owner of Aroma Latin American Cocina, told NBC News. “We call it the Keith effect.” 

Read more about Keith Lee 

Brittany Sinitch

Founder, The Unbreakable Organization

A short white woman with long brown hair smiles in a classroom
Brittany Sinitch. Photo via Instagram

Brittany Sinitch is a teacher who survived the 2018 school shooting at Marjory Stoneman-Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida during her first year as a teacher. 

Throughout the healing process that followed, she became a staunch gun reform activist and founded The Unbreakable Organization, which helps school communities heal from trauma and build emotional resilience.

The nonprofit shares resources about coping with tragedy, engages in personal story-building, works to eliminate financial barriers to professional mental health support, and has an Unbreakable Scholarship for first-generation college students. (It has awarded $18,000 in scholarships to 18 students.)

“We are humans, and we break,” The Unbreakable Org website reads. “Our hope is that you know when you are ready, you can always put your pieces back together and start again.” 

Franziska Trautmann and Max Steitz

Co-founders, Glass Half Full

A white man with blond hair and a white woman with pink hair take a selfie in front of a recycling bin
Max Steitz (left) and Franziska Trautmann (right). Photo via Instagram

It all started with a bottle of wine. Franziska Trautmann and Max Steitz were at the end of their college careers when they were commiserating about their city’s inaccessible glass recycling program over a drink. They began brainstorming what it would look like to implement their own grassroots glass recycling program. 

So, the duo started Glass Half Full. The company collects glass from residents and businesses in New Orleans — and was the city’s first glass recycling plant. 

Glass Half Full converts its recycled materials into beach-like sand and glass cullet, which is then used for disaster relief, eco-construction, new glass products, and more. 

The ultimate goal is to use its recycled sand to begin restoring Louisiana’s fragile shoreline. To date, the duo has diverted more than 6 million pounds of glass from Louisiana landfills and plans to expand into Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida. 

→ Listen to our interview with Franziska Trautmann

Ceri Riley

Co-founder, SciShow Tangents

A white woman with pink hair
Ceri Riley. Photo courtesy of Ceri Riley

Ceri Riley is a queer, biracial woman in STEM who is passionate about making accessible and inclusive educational media. Under Hank Green’s production company, Complexly, Reilly has led several teams as they produce content that uplifts historically marginalized voices and sources of knowledge.

This year, she also helped forge a partnership with Arizona State University that would provide an accessible opportunity for people to earn college credits through watching Complexly’s educational videos. Additionally, she co-hosts the podcast SciShow Tangents — which makes science fun (and a little competitive) for everyone.

→ Learn more about how you can earn college credit by watching YouTube

Sav Rodgers

Founder, Transgender Film Center

Sav Rodgers sits in a theater
Sav Rodgers. Photo courtesy of Travis Young

Sav Rodgers, a trans filmmaker and screenwriter, founded the nonprofit Transgender Film Center in 2020. Since then, the center has partnered with major studios to help Rodgers realize his goal of connecting transgender stories with audiences worldwide.

These partnerships include career development labs with Netflix, Career Boot Camps with Warner Brothers, and more.

Additionally, this year the center funded $100,000 in grants to up-and-coming trans filmmakers. Oh, and Rodgers debuted his hit LGBTQ+ romance documentary, “Chasing Chasing Amy,” at the 2023 Tribeca Festival. 

Taylor Cassidy

Content Creator & Educator, @taylorcassidyj

A young Black woman with an afro and geometric glasses
Taylor Cassidy. Photo via Instagram

Taylor Cassidy’s TikTok bio almost tells you everything you need to know: “Black history like you’ve never learned before.”

Cassidy started her project “Fast Black History” in 2020 when she was just 17 years old, creating her own web series in response to the lack of meaningful curriculum in her middle and high school syllabi. 

She then created another show focusing specifically on Black creatives called “Black Girl Magic Minute.” By keeping her lessons succinct, dynamic, and engaging, she became a radio host for Sirius XM’s TikTok radio, as well as a correspondent for Nickelodeon’s Nick News.

Also in 2023, she became the first youth speaker at the UN’s International Day for the Rememberance of the Trans-Atlantaic Slave Trade — continuing her mission of uplifting young people through the power of education.

→ Meet some other TikTok teachers you need to follow

Header images courtesy of Keith Lee; Franziska Trautmann and Max Steitz; Dylan Mulvaney

Article Details

November 29, 2023 10:30 AM
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