These Americans are changing the world -- and they're all under 40

Compton mayor Aja BrownRandy Shropshire / Getty ImagesThese young people are changing the world in the best kinds of ways.

Each year, the World Economic Forum selects innovative and socially-minded young people to receive its Young Global Leaders award.

Awardees, who are recognised for making considerable contributions to their field and society, are all under the age of 40, and 20 of them hail from the US this year.

This year’s Young Global Leaders class includes leaders from an array of backgrounds. Some are political and and community leaders, others are inventors, CEOs, philanthropists, and scientists working on revolutionary ideas.

Once chosen by the WEF, these leaders are a part of the program for five years, and they attend meetings, participate in initiatives and research, and work with the rest of the WEF’s community.

Here are the 20 US leaders making a worldwide impact.

Feng Zhang is a professor at MIT

The Young Global Leaders

Why he made the list: Zhang is 'one of the most acclaimed young scientists in the world and a pioneer of CRISPR, the breakthrough gene-editing technique that lets scientists manipulate the genetic code of organisms.'

Adam Kinzinger is a Republican congressman from Illinois

The Young Global Leaders

Why he made the list: Kinzinger is 'a former armed forces pilot and Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives who has emerged as a champion for improving the lives of veterans.'

Aja Brown is the mayor of Compton, California

The Young Global Leaders

Why she made the list: Brown is 'the youngest mayor to ever be elected in Compton, California, whose 'New Vision for Compton' is a revitalization strategy centered on 12 key principles that focus on family values, quality of life, economic development and infrastructural growth. She received the National Action Network Martin Luther King Award.'

Ankur Jain is the vice president of Tinder

The Young Global Leaders

Why he made the list: Jain is 'cofounder and CEO of Humin, a technology company that developed a platform for managing contacts and was bought by the dating-app, Tinder. He also founded the Kairos Society, an organisation of young entrepreneurs working to create billion-dollar solutions to the world's most significant challenges.'

Brad Henderson is a senior partner and managing director at the Boston Consulting Group

The Young Global Leaders

Why he made the list: Henderson is 'one of BCG's strongest performing partners throughout his career, his focus is on economic and social development issues. A Chicago resident, he has worked on several initiatives in his city to improve its most disadvantaged neighbourhoods and enhance its relevance as a global city.'

Brie Loskota is the executive director of the Center for Religion and Civic Culture at the University of Southern California

The Young Global Leaders

Why she made the list: Loskota 'works with government agencies to ensure more effective partnership with faith communities on public health and is involved several community groups, including NewGround: A Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change.'

Graves Tompkins is managing director and global head of capital partnering at General Atlantic LLC

The Young Global Leaders

Why he made the list: Tomkins is a 'private equity professional with a proven record of impact beyond the world of finance, helping leading families, foundations and endowments further their philanthropic impact.'

Jess Lee is an investor at Sequoia Capital

The Young Global Leaders

Why she made the list: Lee is a 'young and dynamic investor at Sequoia Capital' and a 'former product manager at Google and CEO of Polyvore, a community-powered social commerce website whose mission is to empower people to feel good about their fashion style.'

Katie Hill heads the Clean Energy Program at Apple

The Young Global Leaders

Why she made the list: Hill is 'an innovator who is using business models to solve critical social and environmental challenges. She currently leads Apple's ambitious new Clean Energy Program converting the company's manufacturing worldwide to renewable energy.'

Lydie Hudson is COO of Global Markets at Credit Suisse AG

The Young Global Leaders

Why he made the list: 'A New York based leader, Hudson is chief operating officer for the Credit Suisse Global Markets business and manages a diverse organisation of more than 2,500 people. She is a champion and passionate voice for the professional advancement of women, particularly in financial services.'

Mike Moradi is the founder and CEO of Sensulin

The Young Global Leaders

Why he made the list: 'After establishing several successful nanotech and biopharma companies, Moradi is now the cofounder and CEO of Sensulin, a company that strives to provide a once-a-day solution for type I/II diabetics.'

Nili Gilbert is a cofounder of Matarin Capital

The Young Global Leaders

Why she made the list: 'Cofounder and portfolio manager of Matarin Capital, a hedge fund and equity asset manager for institutional investors, Gilbert is a recognised leader in a number of fields ranging from finance and economics, social justice and sustainability, to US foreign relations.'

Rana El Kaliouby is the CEO and cofounder of Affectiva

The Young Global Leaders

Why she made the list: Kaliouby is 'a pioneer of industry who's spearheading digital applications of emotion-sensing and facial coding.'

Rebecca van Bergen founded Nest

The Young Global Leaders

Why she made the list: Bergen 'is the founder and executive director of Nest, a platform connecting local artisans with global consumers, helping them overcome supply chain hurdles with direct programming. She has been honored by the White House as one of the Top 100 Entrepreneurial Enterprises led by a young person.'

Reihan Salam is a contributing editor and blogger at National Review

The Young Global Leaders

Why he made the list: 'An influential political commentator, Salam is the co-author of 'Grand New Party' (2008) and a leading figure among reform conservatives, a movement dedicated to revitalizing the US right.'

Richard Socher is chief scientist at Salesforce

The Young Global Leaders

Why he made the list: Socher is 'one of the prodigies of the artificial intelligence and deep learning space whose breakthrough technologies are transforming natural language processing and computer vision.'

Sam Kass is the founder of Trove

The Young Global Leaders

Why he made the list: Kass is 'a food entrepreneur, policy advisor, and celebrated former White House Chef who is on a mission to reduce childhood obesity to just 5% by 2030.'

Samar Ali is an attorney at Bass Berry & Sims

The Young Global Leaders

Why she made the list: 'Born to Syrian and Palestinian immigrants in Tennessee, Ali served as a counterterrorism adviser as a White House Fellow under President Barack Obama and is currently an attorney at Bass Berry & Sims and director at Lodestone Advisory Group.'

Sarah Parcak is the director of GlobalXplorer

The Young Global Leaders

Why she made the list: Parcak is 'an archaeologist who uses satellites to uncover hidden ancient treasures. She estimates we have excavated less than a thousandth of one per cent of what is out there.'

Navrina Singh is the director of business development at Microsoft

The Young Global Leaders

Why she made the list: A 'tech innovator who has worked on some of the most disruptive technologies, Singh is currently director for business development and part of a team that is forging new business for Microsoft in artificial intelligence and internet of things.'

NOW WATCH: Ideas videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.