The Winners! 12 Women to Watch in 2012

When we asked for nominations for our Women to Watch in 2012 awards, we expected some pretty awesome women—but you blew us away. We couldn’t have imagined the number of incredible profiles we would receive.

In just a week, we were flooded by nominations for women who are changing the world—challenging the norms in media, business, and education, creating the products that will define tomorrow, and saving lives in the developing world.

It was tough, but we narrowed it down to a fabulous dozen who have big stuff planned for 2012. We can’t wait to watch this year to see what they have in store—for themselves, and for the world.

Leslie Bradshaw

Named one of the top five female executives in the tech industry and a Top Woman in Tech Under 30 , Leslie Bradshaw is the operational force behindJESS3 , an internationally known creative interactive agency that she describes as being “as much BBDO as we are Facebook and Pixar.”

Her impressive client list already includes Nike, Google (check out the latest: Google Politics ), and Intel—including a several major initiatives set to launch within the next few weeks. The Wall Street Journal calls Bradshaw the “brains” driving the company forward—and we can’t wait to see where she takes it next. Follow her @LeslieBradshaw or @JESS3 .

Shaherose Charania

Not a day goes by when someone isn’t asking “where are the women in tech?,” but Shaherose Charania (named one of the Most Influential Women in Technology by Fast Company in 2010) is trying to change that. As the co-founder of Women 2.0 , an emerging media company aimed at increasing the number of female founders launching scalable technology ventures, she helps entrepreneurs find a network, resources, and knowledge to take their companies from from idea to launch.

Charania is also currently leading Founder Labs , an early stage incubator focused on new mobile ideas. Follow her @shaherose .

Keya Dannenbaum

2012 is a huge year for politics, which likely means it will also be a huge one for ElectNext , the brainchild of Keya Dannenbaum. The site works like an eHarmony for elections, matching you with your candidates based on what matters most to you, and helping you vote all the way down your ballot.

Dannenbaum got the idea working on political campaigns (Hillary Clinton in 2008 followed by two years at the city level), where she saw a vast drop in levels of political interest, knowledge, and participation from the national to the local level. Then, when she found herself “too busy” with the demands of her Wharton MBA program and neglected to vote in the 2010 midterm elections, she became determined to find a solution. We think it will be a solution for everyone else, too. Follow her @electnext.

Danielle Fong

Some call it greentech’s holy grail : finding an economical way to store energy from sources like wind and solar energy. Accomplish that, and renewable energy could finally compete on a level playing field with dirty fossil fuels.

And the person who’s leading the charge is 24-year-old Danielle Fong, who’s company, LightSail Energy , is working on a “ potentially game-changing ” energy storage solution. Fong tells Forbes (where she was named one of the 30 Under 30 Rising Stars in Energy) that she hopes to make “renewables the choice for almost everywhere on our planet” within just 10 years. Check her out at DanielleFong.com .

Dr. Elizabeth Iorns

Elizabeth Iorns , an assistant professor at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, isn’t just conducting breast cancer research—she’s changing the way research is done as a whole. In May 2011, she co-foundedScience Exchange , an online marketplace for crowd-sourcing science experiments (or “an eBay of science”) that could “ drastically change the way in which scientists do research .”

As CEO, Elizabeth has already helped the company secure major partnerships with UCSF, Eagle-i, Peter Thiel’s Breakout Labs, and the Neuroscience Information Framework (plus landed a spot at Y Combinator). Follow her @elizabethiorns .