RODNEY GILBERT

For a country long defined by ethnicity and social conservatism (divorce and homosexuality were illegal till the 1990s; abortion still is), Leo Varadkar's elevation to the post of Taoiseach, or Irish leader, was a triple whammy- at 39 he is Ireland's youngest ever prime minister, and its first openly gay, and mixed-race one. An Indo-Irish medical involved in center-right politics since youth, Varadkar, won the leadership of the ruling Fine Gael Party in June 2017, and with it, the premiership.

Despite his barrier-breaking firsts in become prime-minister, Varadkar's legacy will may rest on what he does next.  Once labeled the Celtic Tiger for its miraculous economic modernization, Ireland still feels the impacts of the Great Recession.  Most importantly, Varadkar must disentangle Ireland from the United Kingdom in a post-Brexit world.  Ireland not only shares deep trade and cultural ties with the UK, but a land border that remains an intractable flash-point in Brexit negotiations. 

BRILLIANT 2017

AHMAD RAMADAN
Novelist, The Clothesline Swing
ELISA PADILLA
Chief Marketing Officer, Brooklyn Nets
PARVEZ SHARMA
Author/Filmmaker, A Sinner In Mecca
REV. KEVIN TAYLOR
Spiritual Icon
RAJIV MOHABIR
Poet
SAM PARK
State Representative, Georgia
SRI RAO
Producer and Cookbook Innovator
SHAWN SHORT
Artistic Director, Dissonance Dance
IQUAIL SHAHEED
Artistic Director, Dance Iquail
ZEKE THOMAS
Activist and Survivor
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