The most powerful black women in Europe

Power is defined as the ability to act or produce an effect. The definition of powerful is having great power, prestige, or influence. The women on the inaugural Black Women in Europe™: Power List 2010 include politicians, business women, trendsetters, award-winning athletes, activists and social entrepreneurs.

Black women have not been allowed to attain powerful positions throughout modern history. However, as the Internet further permeates global consciousness, black women have more of an ability to work together and the economic and social standing of women worldwide. From remote conferences to online MBA programs, there are opportunities for education everywhere and with enough virtual networking, the support is now also available. Getting educated and getting ahead is now a possibility for a generation of women whose predecessors did not have the same opportunity.

Most Powerful Black Women in Europe

Black Women in Europe™: Power List 2010 – A List of Our Own

View the slideshow, read the List, or check out their Bios to get more information.

Black Women in Europe™: Power List 2010

| Methodology | | Editors | | Photo credits |


Name Category Country
Diane Abbott Politics England
Zahra Abdulla Politics Finland
Beatrice Achaleke NGO Austria
Glory Alozie Lifestyle Spain
Dounne Alexander Business England
Baroness Valerie Amos Politics England
Samata Angel Business England
Princess Angela Lifestyle Liechtenstein
Benedicta Attoh Social Entrepreneur Ireland
Floella Benjamin Lifestyle England
Grace Bumbry Lifestyle Austria
Naomi Campbell Lifestyle England
Sandy Cane Politics Italy
Rosemary Chileshe Lifestyle England
Lisa Cooper Business Norway
Othella Dallas Lifestyle Switzerland
Gaitana Essami Lifestyle Ukraine
Joan Ferrier NGO Netherlands
Trisha Goddard Media England
Naide Gomes Lifestyle Portugal
Tonya Graves Lifestyle Czech Republic
Bonnie Greer Lifestyle England
Caroline Henderson Lifestyle Denmark
Barbara Hendricks Lifestyle Sweden
Dame Kelly Holmes Lifestyle England
Sirelda Jackson Business Netherlands
Danitzah Jacobs Business Netherlands
Yvette Jarvis Politics Greece
Yana Johnson Business England
Sandrine Joseph Business France
Yelena Khanga Lifestyle Russia
Grada Kilomba Lifestyle Germany
Kanya King Business England
Oona King
Matilda MacAttram
Social Activism
Gisele Mandaila Politics Belgium
Lucia Mwihaki Kimani Marcetic Lifestyle Bosnia & Herzegovina
Ottey Marlene Lifestyle Slovenia
Caroline Marsh Business England
Salome Mbugua Social Entrepreneurs Ireland
Gabrielle Kirk McDonald Lifestyle Netherlands
Alison Bethel McKenzie Media Austria
Marie Ndiaye Lifestyle France
Kay Oldroyd Social Entrepreneur England
Euzhan Palcy Lifestyle France
Audrey Pulvar Media France
Sandra Raf aela Politics Netherlands
Nyamko Sabuni Politics Sweden
Baroness Patricia Scotland Politics England
Zadie Smith Lifestyle England
Noah Sow Lifestyle Germany
Veye Tatah Media Germany
Christiane Taubira Politics France
Chika Unigwe Lifestyle Belgium
Valerie van de Kaa Business Netherlands
Lori van Echtelt Business Netherlands
Felicia Weathers Lifestyle Germany
Rama Yade Politics France

More information on each woman is found below.


Diane Abbott – Politician

In 1987 Diane Abbott made history by becoming the first black woman ever elected to the British Parliament. She has since built a distinguished career as a parliamentarian, broadcaster and commentator. Diane has served on a number of parliamentary committees on social and international issues. She was also elected on to the National Executive of the Labour Party. For most of the 1990’s she also served on the Treasury Select Committee of the House of Commons. This is the committee which deals with business and finance matters. As a member of this committee Diane travelled frequently to Washington DC, New York, Frankfurt and other financial centres. She met with senior politicians, bankers and financial regulators internationally and she helped to author a series of official reports on issues such as Britain’s entry into the Euro. She went on to serve on the Foreign Affairs Select Committee. As a member of that committee she travelled to Kenya, Uganda, China, Hong Kong and many countries in Europe. She took a particular interest in human rights. Most recently she has set up a special parliamentary committee investigating gun crime.

Read more about Diane

Zahra Abdulla – Politician
Zahra Abdulla is a member of the Helsinki City Council and a member of the Green Party. She is an active member in many associations and official committees on racism, immigrant and multi-cultural issues, health, and equality.

Read more about Zahra

Beatrice Achaleke – Activist
Beatrice Achaleke is organizer and conference manager of the World Diversity Leadership Summit Europe, Founding Executive Director of AFRA – International Center for Black Women’s Perspectives (, and President of the Black European Women’s Council (

Read more about Beatrice

Dounne Alexander – Entrepreneur
Dounne Alexander was honored by the Queen Elizabeth with the Member of the British Empire for her outstanding services to the British Food Industry. She is the creator of the ‘GRAMMAS’ culinary line, named in memory of her grandmother. Dounne has won 7 national awards, including ‘Women Mean Business’ – most outstanding British small business and ‘Black Businesswoman of the Millennium’. She has written two books: The Black Cinderella and A Mission of Love.

Read more about Dounne

Glory Alozie – Athlete
Glory Alozie Oluchi is a Spanish athlete competing mostly in hurdling. While representing Nigeria she became African champion twice, and she still holds the African record for the 100 meters hurdles.

Read more about Glory

Baroness Valerie Amos – Politician
Valerie Ann Amos, Baroness Amos, PC is the eighth and current UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. Before her appointment to the UN, she had been British High Commissioner to Australia. She was made a Labour life peer in 1997 and served as Leader of the House of Lords and Lord President of the Council. When Amos was appointed Secretary of State for International Development on 12 May 2003, following the resignation of Clare Short, she became the first black woman to sit in the Cabinet of the United Kingdom. She left the Cabinet when Gordon Brown became Prime Minister. She was then nominated to become the European Union Special Representative to the African Union by Gordon Brown. In July 2010 Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon announced Baroness Amos’ appointment to the role of Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.

Read more about Baroness Amos

Samata Angel – Entrepreneur
Designer Samata Angel set up Samata’s Muse in 2005 after years spent creating unique pieces of clothing for women. Having spent time working in the fashion industry with positions ranging from Fashion Editor of The Talent Magazine to Head of Marketing for a Japanese clothing label and later as Head of PR for an exclusive Kings Road boutique she decided to officially launch SAMATA’S MUSE following growing interest in her work.

Read more about Samata

Princess Angela of Liechtenstein – Lifestyle

Princess Angela of Liechtenstein is the wife of Prince Maximilian of Liechtenstein. She has two children, Princess Angela and Prince Alfons. Miss Brown studied fashion at Parsons School of Design, where she was awarded the Oscar de la Renta Gold Thimble Award.

Read more about Princess Angela

Benedicta Attoh – Social Entrepreneur
Benedicta Attoh is the founder of Dreamworld Leadership Initiative for Girls. She is an Executive and Life Coach, Trainer, Facilitator, Motivational Speaker and an Independent Consultant in diversity management. She worked with the DePaul Trust and Simon Community; both organizations are working to end homelessness in Ireland.

She is a member of several boards and has been nominated and received several awards for her intercultural work including the Rehab/Louth Person of the Year 2007, the Edmund Rice’s Award for Achievement (2008), Social Entrepreneurs Ireland award 2009 for her leadership work with women in Ireland and the Bold and Beautiful award for Excellence and Achievement (2009).

Read more about Benedicta

Floella Benjamin – Lifestyle
Floella Benjamin, OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) is an actress, presenter, writer, independent producer and an active advocate for welfare, care and education of children throughout the world. She runs a successful film and television production company and is a Vice President of Barnardo’s. She led a twenty-year campaign to create the role of Children’s Minister, which achieved its goal in 2003. She is now leading a nation-wide campaign to save UK made children’s television programs. She was Chairman of the Women of the Year Lunch for five years, Chairman of BAFTA -Television, was a member of the OFCOM Content Board and a Millennium Commissioner. She is now President of the Ramblers’ Association, the Elizabeth ’R’ Commonwealth Broadcasting Fund, a Governor of Dulwich College and the National Film & Television School. She is the Chancellor of the University of Exeter and a Deputy Lieutenant for Greater London.

Read more about Floella

Grace Bumbry – Opera singer and teacher
Grace Bumbry an opera singer, a much-valued teacher around the word, and the creator of the Grace Bumbry Black Musical Heritage Ensemble, a choir devoted to preserving and performing traditional Negro spirituals and gospel on the concert stage. Bumbry lives in Salzburg, Austria and Bumbry has been inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame. Among other honors, she was bestowed the Distinguished Alumna Award from the Academy of Music of the West, Italy’s Premio Giuseppe Verdi, and was named Commandeur des Arts et Lettres by the French government. On December 6, 2009, she was among those honored with the 2009 Kennedy Center Honors, for her contribution to the performing arts.

Read more about Grace

Naomi Campbell – Lifestyle
Campbell’s successful modeling career, in some respects unprecedented for a black model, made her one of the most recognizable and in-demand models of her generation. During the so-called supermodel era of the early 1990s, she was part of the “Big Six”, alongside Cindy Crawford, Claudia Schiffer, Christy Turlington, Linda Evangelista and Kate Moss, and “The Trinity”, alongside Turlington and Evangelista. Campbell’s first public appearance came at age 7 in February 1978 when she was cast as a pupil to appear in a music video for Bob Marley’s song “Is This Love?”. In 1982, she appeared in another music video, this time as a tap dancer for Culture Club’s “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya”. At age 15 and while still a student at the Italia Conti Academy, Campbell was spotted by Beth Boldt, a former Ford model and head of the Synchro model agency, while window-shopping in Covent Garden. Campbell soon opted to become a fulltime model, signing with Elite Model Management. Campbell started her career as a catwalk model and was quickly hired for various high-profile advertising campaigns, including Lee Jeans and Olympus Corporation, which introduced her to the American market. Campbell also completed campaigns for Ralph Lauren and François Nars. At age 15 in April 1986, Campbell appeared on the cover of Elle, and on August 1988, she appeared on the cover of Vogue Paris as the publication’s first black cover girl, after friend and mentor, Yves St. Laurent, threatened to withdraw all of his advertising from the publication after it refused to place Campbell, or any black model, on its cover. In addition to Vogue Paris, Campbell also became the second black model to appear on the cover of Vogue UK, Vogue Nippon, Time magazine and later Vogue China.

Read more about Naomi

Sandy Cane – Politician
Sandy Cane became Lega Nord’s candidate for Viggiù mayor in June 2009 elections. She was elected the first non-white mayor of Italy after winning about 30% of the votes.

Rosemary Chileshe – Social Entrepreneur
Rosemary Chileshe
Rosemary is an entrepreneur and former award-winning beauty queen who competed at Miss Universe who uses her platform to support various NGOs and charities including All Star Kids.

Read more about Rosemary

Lisa Cooper – Diversity Advocate

Lisa Cooper
Lisa Cooper is the Founder and Managing Director of the Leadership Foundation. She has served on numerous boards including Simrad Optronics, Nattopharma, The Anti-Racist Center and Fornebu Banken (vara). She served as member of the Strategy Committee of the Norwegian Tourist Authority and, on appointment from the Ministry of Government Administration and Reform, sat on the Advisory Board of Management in the Public Sector.

Read more about Lisa

Othella Dallas – Performer
Othella Dallas is a Grand Old Lady of jazz, blues and funk. She began her singing career in Paris in 1950 and performed with Duke Ellington, Quincy Jones, Sammy Davis Jr., Nat King Cole. She has been performing ever since and has lived in Switzerland since the 1960’s.

Read more about Othella

Gaitana Essami – Performer
Gaitana Essami is a Ukrainian singer who has been nominated for 5 awards and has won three.

Read more about Gaitana

Joan Ferrier – Activist
The Netherlands
Joan worked at the Social Welfare Studies Centre ‘The Orphanage’, where she eventually was coordinator of two homes for Moroccan children. In addition, she teaches cross-cultural pedagogy and research assistant at the University of Amsterdam. Then in 1997 four women’s empowerment organizations merged and by January 1, 1998 Ferrier was director of what became the new Institute for Gender and Ethnicity, in the course of that year it was renamed the E-Quality. Previous honors include the award for Black Women Manager 2008 from the mayor of Rotterdam, Mr. Opstelten. Ms. Ferrier is the daughter of the late Johan Ferrier, the last governor and the first president of Suriname.

Trisha Goddard – Media
Trisha Goddard is known as Britain’s Queen of Chat. She is also trained in Conflict Resolution and had been an advisor to the Government of Australia on issues of mental health and is a mental health activist. In late 2004 Trisha left ITV to set up her own production company Town House TV which made her daily talk show for Five – Trisha Goddard which launched in January 2005. The hour long show airs daily at 10.45 a.m. Trisha writes a weekly column for the Eastern Daily Press Magazine. For 18 months from 2008 she also presented a two hour talk based Liverpool radio show for City Talk FM where she interviews a diverse range of people from celebrities to survivors, authors to the outspoken, burlesque dancers to the broken hearted. She has presented the RTS program awards and chaired the RTS workshop on Diversity in Television. She has presented Britain’s Psychic Challenge for Five made by her own TV Company Town House TV and a prime time series called Families at War. Trisha is actively involved in a number of charities including Home-Start and Mind.

Read more about Trisha

Naide Gomes – Athlete
Enezaide do Rosário da Vera Cruz Gomes, OIH, is a Portuguese heptathlete. She has competed in many competitions including the Olympics, European Athletics Championships, and the European Athletics Indoor Championships. She won gold at the World Athletics Indoor Championships.

Read more about Naide

Tanya Graves – Singer and Actress
Czech Republic
Tonya Graves is a singer and actress who has been living in Prague since May 1995. Tonya has been nominated 11 times for the Czech Academy of Music’s Cesky Andel and has won it four times.

Read more about Tonya

Bonnie Greer – Lifestyle
Bonnie Greer is a former Arts Council playwright in residence at the Soho Theatre and for NITRO, once known as the Black Theatre co-operative. Greer has played Joan of Arc at the Theatre Atelier in Paris. She has written radio plays for BBC Radio 3 and Radio 4, including a translation of The Little Prince. Her plays include Munda Negra (1993) concerning the mental health problems of black women, Dancing On Blackwater (1994) and Jitterbug (2001), and the musicals Solid and Marilyn and Ella. She is the author of two novels: Hanging by Her Teeth (1994) and Entropy (2009), and currently is working on a play for the National Theatre Studio. She is the Deputy Chairman of the British Museum’s Board of Trustees. Greer has been a regular panelist on BBC Two’s Newsnight Review, and occasionally contributes to the Question Time. An occasional writer for The Guardian and New Statesman, she is a former theatre critic for Time Out magazine. Greer has won numerous prizes for her work including a Verity Bargate Award for Best New Play. She was formerly director of the Talawa Theatre Company and has served on the boards of the Royal Opera House and the London Film School. Greer’s latest book Obama Music was published by Legend Press in October 2009. Her biography of Langston Hughes will be published by Arcadia in Spring 2011. She is currently working on a novel about Rossetti and on a new work for the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Greer was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2010 Birthday Honours.

Caroline Henderson – Singer and actress
Caroline Henderson is a performer. Apart from her musical career Caroline Henderson has acted in several plays and movies, including the Spanish drama “Tuya Siempre”, which won three awards at the Malaga film Festival 2007. She won great critical acclaim in the Howard Barker play “Dead, Dead, Very Dead”, directed by Jacob Shokking. She won a Grammy for Best Vocal Recording at the Danish Music Awards 2007. For years Caroline Henderson has been a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF with special attention to violence against children. She also supports Okobarn, a campaign for better health and organic products for children.

Read more about Caroline

Barbara Hendricks – Lifestyle
After nearly 20 years of service to the cause of refugees and her untiring support for the UNHCR she has been named Honorary Ambassador For Life by the UNHCR and will be given special tasks that demand her long unparalleled experience and commitment. At the end of 1991 and 1993, she gave two solidarity concerts in war-ridden former Yugoslavia (Dubrovnik and Sarajevo). In 1998 she founded the Barbara Hendricks Foundation for Peace and Reconciliation to personalise her struggle for the prevention of conflicts in the world and to facilitate reconciliation and enduring peace where conflicts have already occurred. In 2001, at the special request of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Kofi Annan, she sang for the Nobel Prize ceremony and gala concert in Oslo, and in May 2002 for the East Timor Independence Day Ceremony.

Read more about Barbara

Dame Kelly Holmes – Lifestyle
Dame Kelly Holmes is a retired British middle distance athlete. She specialized in the 800 meters and 1500 meters events and won a gold medal for both distances at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. She set British records in numerous events and still holds the records over the 600, 800, 1000, and 1500 meters distances. She joined the British Army but continued to compete at the organization’s athletics events. She turned to the professional athletics circuit in the early 1990s and in 1994 she won the 1500 m at the Commonwealth Games and took silver at the European Championships. She won a silver and a bronze medal at the 1995 Gothenburg World Championships but suffered from various injuries over the following two years, failing to gain a medal at her first Olympics in Atlanta 1996. She soon returned to form, taking silver in the 1500 m at the 1998 Commonwealth Games and bronze in the 800 m at the 2000 Sydney Olympics; her first Olympic medal. In 2002 Holmes won the 1500 m at the Commonwealth Games and the 800 m bronze at the Munich European Championships. The 2003 track season saw her take silver in the 1500 m at the World Indoor Championships and the 800 m silver medals at the World Championships and first World Athletics Final. She took part in her final major championship in 2004— she turned in a double gold medal-winning performance at the Athens Olympics, finishing as the 800 m and 1500 m Olympic Champion. For her achievements she won numerous awards and was appointed a dame by HM The Queen in 2005.

Read more about Kelly

Danitzah Jacobs & Sirelda Jackson – Entrepreneurs
Danitzah JacobShirelda Jackson
Danitzah Jacobs & Sirelda Jackson are two socially conscious business women who embarked on a gastronomic adventure that goes by the name Màrshé. A dream made reality that combines all of their passions. The vision statement of Marshé is as follows:
Màrshé Women authentic homemade soul food creates a place where people eat, meet and greet the world. It’s like traveling without moving. These two business women wanted to create a catering company that provides authentic homemade soul food of a variety of cultures. By doing so they bring people together and also create business and job opportunities for women. The first restaurant is established in Breda, The Netherlands. The ambition of Danitzah & Sirelda is to become and international gastronomic franchise brand with establishments in different cities of Europe and the rest of the world. Although this adventure has been a rollercoaster ride of emotions and experiences as they went through many growing pains as business women, they embrace these life and business lessons and take great pride that what they accomplished so far. The wonderful reward is witnessing Màrshé’s unprecedented growth and being able to inspire other women to become entrepreneurs.

Read more about Marshe Brede

Yvette Jarvis – Politics
Yvette Jarvis, a 1979 magna cum laude graduate of Boston University, came to Greece in 1982 as an accomplished basketball player, to play for Panathinaikos. She became the first African-American to play in the Greek Women’s Basketball League, while also being the first salaried female athlete in the league. She is the first African-American elected to public office in Greece in October 2002. An elected city councilwoman in Athens, Jarvis is a former professional athlete, model and actress. She is also a strong supporter of human rights, those particularly of Greece’s women, children, immigrants, and the disabled. One of Jarvis’ political accomplishments includes the establishment of a national toll free hotline for victims of domestic violence in April 2003. She is a special advisor to the Athens Mayor.

Read more about Yvette

Yana Johnson – Entrepreneur
Yana Johnson started Yana Cosmetics on 2002 to provide makeup & beauty treatments for very light to very dark skin. Yana was awarded a Member of the British Emprise in 2009 for services to the Cosmetics Industry, and winner of Black Enterprise, European Federation of Black Women Business Owners, Mahogany Brides and British Female Inventors and Innovators Award.

Read more about Yana

Sandrine Joseph – Corporate France Business woman, Arts patron

Sandrine Joseph, Communication Advisor at Orange France, has most recently been honored in the “Gotha Noir de France” (the first French Black “Who’s Who”). After completing her education at La Sorbonne University her business career has continually progressed with positions of higher responsibility in different field such as Marketing, Information Technology, Finance, Innovation and Human Resources making her a sought after speaker in France on issues of diversity, leadership and personal branding. She extends her talents to helping start ups find angel funding as well as promoting the arts and serving on the boards of European Professional Women’s network – EPWN, RISKANGEL, and Outremer Network.

Sandrine Joseph reçoit Outre Mer Network

Read more about Sandrine

Yelena Khanga – Lifestyle Russia
Yelena Khanga was born and raised in Moscow, USSR, and is the author of Soul to Soul: The Story of a Black Russian American Family: 1865 – 1992. Khanga divides her time between New York City and Moscow. Yelena Khanga was the moderator of the Russian television talk show The Domino Effect and moderated Russia’s first talk show about sex titled About That which tackled such matters as H.I.V./AIDS, homosexuality and workplace sexual harassment.

Grada Kilomba – Psychiatrist, writer

Kilomba was born in Lisbon where she studied clinical psychology and psychoanalysis. There she worked in the psychiatry with war survivors and developed several projects in the fields of memory and trauma. Early on she started publishing her literary work in the form of essays, prose and poetry approaching remembered stories of slavery, colonialism and everyday racism. Among others, she is the co-editor of the book “Mythen, Masken and Subjekte: Kritische Weißseinforschung in Deutschland” (Unrast 2005) and the author of the book “Plantation Memories: Episodes of Everyday Racism”(Unrast 2008). Her work has been described as a combination of academic writing and lyrical narrative. She has been working on several theatre projects. She holds a distinguished doctorate from Freie Universität and has been lecturing in the frame of postcolonial studies on decolonization, psychoanalysis and gender at the Humboldt Universität – Berlin, department of gender studies; Freie Universität – Berlin, department of political sciences; and at the University of Ghana, Legon/Accra, department of African studies and Performing Arts.

Read more about Grada

Kanya King – Entrepreneur

King is a consultant to a number of Government initiatives for disadvantaged youth including the Home Office Task Force to reduce gun violence. She is a patron of the Horniman Museum, and founder member of Net Women, an influential body of high profile women in the media.

She attended Buckingham Palace at the Queen’s invitation to celebrate exceptional achievements by British women such as J. K. Rowling and Cherie Blair and in 1999 was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE). Other awards include an honorary fellowship of the Goldsmiths College, University of London, and an honorary degree of Doctor of Business Administration at the London Metropolitan University (December 2006). Ms. King is the founder of the MOBO Awards. Launched in 1996, the MOBO Awards were the first Awards show in Europe to celebrate urban music.

Read more about the Music of Black Origin Awards

Oona King – Politics

Oona King is a broadcaster, writer, and political campaigner. Oona is Founding Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Genocide Prevention in the House of Commons; an Associate Fellow of Chatham House (The Royal Institute of International Affairs); Chair of the Institute for Community Cohesion (iCoCo), and Chair of Rich Mix Cultural Foundation. Oona writes for papers including the Guardian, New Statesman, Sunday Telegraph, and Observer, and is a presenter for television and radio documentaries. Oona’s book about her time in the House of Commons, “House Music – The Oona King Diaries” is published in September 2007 by Bloomsbury. Oona was MP for Bethnal Green & Bow from 1997-2005, and became PPS to the Cabinet Minister for Trade & Industry. Oona was appointed to two Select Committees (International Development and Urban Affairs). Other roles included Vice-Chair of the British Council, Chair of the All-Party Group on Business Services, Vice-Chair of London Labour MPs, and Treasurer of Friends of Islam. Before being elected at 29, Oona was a Trade Union organiser representing low-paid workers, and spent 5 years as a researcher at the European Parliament in Brussels and Strasbourg.

Read more about Oona

Matilda MacAttram – Social activist

Matilda MacAttram

Matilda MacAttram is founder and director of Black Mental Health UK (BMH UK), a human rights campaigns group established to raise awareness and address the stigma associated with mental illness within African Caribbean communities. She has spoken out publicly against the deaths and ill treatment of black patients detained in psychiatric hospitals and through this work changed the public debate around black people and mental illness. Her work has played a major part in dispelling inaccurate preconceived ideas about this issue. She headed up BMH UK’s nine month campaign calling for the legal duties within the Race Relations and Human Rights laws to be included the 2007 Mental Health Act. Matilda has advised the Government and the main opposition political parties on mental health and ethnicity, and provided briefing papers which have been used during parliamentary debates.

She is a member of the Independent Advisory Panel (IAP) on Deaths in Custody, which is part of the Ministerial Council on Deaths in Custody that reports directly to government. She also led on the launch of the 2010 Manifesto on Black Mental Health, which is calling for the prevention of deaths following restraint within secure psychiatric settings. Matilda also led a successful three year campaign, which has been calling for the removal of the DNA of innocent mental health patients from the National Criminal DNA Database. This work was also targeted at addressing the over representation of innocent people Briton’s African Caribbean communities who are profiled on the database. Her efforts in this area have secured a commitment from the UK’s new coalition government to implement the changes that MacAttram was calling for.

Read more about the BMH UK

Gisele Mandaila – Politician

Gisele Mandaila is a Belgian politician who has held several local and national positions.

Read more about Grace

Lucia Mwihaki Kimani-Marcetic – Athlete
Bosnia and Herzegovina

Lucia Mwihaki Kimani-Marcetic
Lucia Mwihaki Kimani-Marcetic is a marathon runner. She grew up in the Ngong township in Kenya. After moving to Bosnia and Herzegovina she joined the national team and competed in Beijing to represent her country in the marathon at the Olympics.

Read more about Lucia

Caroline Marsh – Business

Caroline is a businesswoman, property investor and public speaker.

Read more about Caroline

Salome Mbugua – Social Entrepreneur

In 2001 Salome Founded Akidwa and was its chairperson for 3 years, Akidwa is a national network of African women that aims to address the existing and changing needs of African women in Ireland irrespective of their ethnic / national backgrounds, traditions / religious beliefs, socio economic, political or legal status. In 2003 she was honoured with the RTE /Metro Media award for her positive contribution in promoting multiculturalism in Ireland. In 2007 Salome was nominated to the Board of the Equality Authority.

Read more about Akidwa

Gabrielle Kirk McDonald – Lifestyle

Gabrielle Anne Kirk McDonald is an American lawyer and jurist who served on the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. She was the President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia at The Hague and currently serves as an arbitrator on the Iran-US Claims Tribunal seated in The Hague. Her publications include Substantive and Procedural Aspects of International Criminal Law: Commentary AND v.1: The Experience of International and National Courts: Commentary AND Vol 1, Substantive and Procedural Aspects of International Criminal Law: The Experience of International and National Courts, Commentary, and Substantive and Procedural Aspects of International Criminal Law: The Experience of International and National Courts, Documents: 002.

Alison Bethel McKenzie – Media

Alison McKenzie
Alison Bethel McKenzie is the Acting Director of the International Press Institute in Vienna and the first black person to head a global press freedom organization in the world. She is an American-born journalist and editor and the former Washington Bureau Chief for The Detroit News from 2000 to 2006. She is an international consultant on media best practices and an international advocate for press freedom and has worked in The Bahamas, as managing editor of the Nassau Guardian newspaper, and in Accra, Ghana as a Knight International Journalism Fellow on behalf of the International Center for Journalists in Washington, D.C.

Get more information about the International Press Institute

Marie Ndiaye – Lifestyle

Marie NDiaye is a French novelist and playwright. She won the Prix Femina in 2001 for her novel Rosie Carpe and her play Papa doit manger has been taken into the repertoire of the Comédie française. Papa doit manger is only the second play by a female writer to be taken into the repertoire of the Comédie française. After her first novel she wrote a further six novels, all published by Minuit, and a collection of short stories. She also wrote her “Comédie Classique”, a two-hundred page novel made up of a single sentence, which was published by POL at the age of 21. Her novel Trois femmes puissantes won the 2009 Prix Goncourt.


Kay Oldroyd – Social Entrepreneur

Kay Oldroyd found the Black Youth Achievements (BYA) CIC in 2008, It is a community interest company based in London with the objective of creating opportunities for change for young people aged 8 – 25 of African / Caribbean / Mixed Heritage in the UK. BYA will focus on positive events and experiences, to redress the balance of negative stereotypes and representations amongst this group. Kay Oldroyd was awarded the Volunteers award, at Peace Alliance’s 10th annual ‘London Peace Week’.

Read more about the Black Youth Awards

Merlene Ottey – Athlete

Ottey is undisputedly known as the “Queen of the Track“. She is the only female track athlete who has dominated the athletics world competing in five Olympic Games. Ottey is also one of two athletes to win twenty medals at the Olympic Games and the World Championships. In five World Championships, Ottey has so far won thirteen medals: three gold, four silver and six bronze medals, while at the Olympics she has earned two silver and five bronze medals.

Read more about Merlene

Euzhan Palcy – Film maker

Euzhan Palcy is a film director writer and producer from Martinique, French West Indies. Notable for being the first black female director produced by a major Hollywood studio (MGM) for “A Dry White Season” the only female filmmaker who directed Marlon Brando (she brought him back to the screen). Brando’s performance in the movie earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor and he received the Best Actor Award at the Tokyo Film Festival. For her outstanding cinematic achievement, Palcy received the “Orson Welles Award” in Los Angeles. Her movie “Sugar Cane Alley” won over 17 international awards including the Venice Film Festival’s Silver Lion, as well as the Coppa Volpi (Volpi Cup) for Best Lead Actress Award (Darling Legitimus). It also won the prestigious César Award (the French equivalent to Academy Award) for best first feature film. Palcy was honored with the distinction of Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite (Knight in the National Order Merit) from French President, François Mitterrand and a movie theater was named “Cinema Euzhan Palcy”.

Read more about Euzhan

Audrey Pulvar – Media

Audrey Pulvar is a French journalist. From 1994 to 2002 she worked for a Caribbean Television Network ATV. In April 2002 she began to work for LCI. In November 2003 she was hired in France 3 as a regional news anchor. She hosted the “19/20” (national news) from September 2005 to July 2009. She has now joined the French channel “I-Télé” for the 19-20 (Audrey Pulvar Soir or APS). On several occasions, she hosted exceptional shows on France 3 and LCP-Assemblée Nationale. She had the guts to stand up to Guerlain’s racist comments about Blacks on French TV.

Read more about Audrey

Sandra Rafaela – Politician

Sandra Rafaela
The African Kingdoms Federation Chief-of-Staff, Sandra Rafaela, was in early 2010 commissioned with and additional portfolio for the Empowerment, Support and Integration of Women of the Diaspora within the EU/Caricom/USA hand in hand with the Women in Africa, within the Federation and African Kingdoms Internal Development Agenda within Africa, and duplication of relevant needed programs within their respective geographic Regions internationally. As such uniting the Women of Africa globally towards an agenda of empowerment and development participation in all aspects of National, Localized and Community development.

Prior to this additional posting, Her Excellency Sandra Rafaela worked for many years in the field of Logistics, alongside setting up successfully in 2006 the Afro European Sisters Network website and blog, and the in 2007 established with a co-partner Women of the African Diaspora website and network, which today has a lot of members of African Women internationally.

Her Excellency is responsible for all matters of Federation interest and is responsible for the expansion of Women Empowerment Programs within Afro European/Caricom and African Continent Rural and Urban region within the Trans-African Nations Development Agenda program. As well as cultural relations with the Federation Kingdoms Nations. Her Excellency as all the Federation Ambassadors and special Commissions is well acquainted with the African Kingdoms and Federation needs, aspirations and desire to further the development of the African Nations, and to strengthen the African Women in localized business and trade between Africa and the respective world regions.

Nyamko Sabuni – Politics

Nyamko Sabuni is the Minister for Gender Equality, Deputy Minister for Education, Ministry of Integration and Gender Equality. The she is the first black Minister in a Swedish Prime Minister’s Cabinet. Sabuni was elected a Member of Parliament in 2002 and assumed the office of Minister for Integration and Gender Equality on 6 October 2006.

Read more about Nyamko

Baroness Patricia Scotland of Asthal – Politics

Baroness Scotland is the Opposition Attorney General and Spokesperson for the Law Officers in the House of Lords. She is the alternate UK Government Representative, European Convention and a former member of the Commission for Racial Equality. Baroness Scotland was the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State and Government Spokesperson for Foreign and Commonwealth Office; Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor’s Department and Government Spokesperson for Law Officers’ Department; Minister of State and Government Spokesperson for Home Office; Government Spokesperson for: Trade and Industry, Women’s Issues/Equal Agenda; Attorney General and Government Spokesperson for the Law Officers (attending cabinet).

Zadie Smith – Writer

Zadie Smith was born in north-west London in 1975. Her first novel, “White Teeth”, was the winner of The Whitbread First Novel Award, The Guardian First Book Award, The James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction, and The Commonwealth Writers’ First Book Award. Her second novel, “The Autograph Man”, won The Jewish Quarterly Wingate Literary Prize. Zadie Smith’s third novel, “On Beauty”, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and won The Commonwealth Writers’ Best Book Award (Eurasia Section) and the Orange Prize for Fiction. She is the editor of an anthology of short stories entitled “The Book Of Other People”. Her collection of essays Changing My Mind will be published in November 2009. Zadie Smith is currently teaching at the New York University’s Creative Writing Program. She is a graduate of Cambridge University and has taught at Harvard and Columbia universities. She is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Read more about”>Zadie

Noah Sow – Performer, writer, activist

Noah Sow is a musician and member of NOIXEAUX, proving that black women do rock, the author of “Germany Black and white: the everyday racism”, a member of the Intercultural Council Germany, and the first Black German media-watch-organization “der braune mob”. She wrote and produced an interactive multimedia stage show called Edutainment Attacke!

Read more about Noah

Veye Tatah – Media

Veye Tatah is the owner of Africa Positive Catering and Events and the chief editor of Africa Positive magazine which has been published since 1998 in the German-speaking countries.

Read more at:

Christiane Taubira – Politics

Christiane Taubira is a former Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Member of the European Parliament, Member of the Committee on Development and Cooperation, and Member of the Delegation EU / ACP. She wrote the first draft Act to prohibit the manufacture, storage, sale and use of anti-personnel mines (MAP) and is the author of a European Parliament resolution to ban MAP. Ms. Taubira is the author of the Act to recognize the slave trade and slavery as crimes against humanity which was adopted by the French parliament, promulgated by the President of the French Republic and co-signed by the Prime Minister and eight ministers concerned with its provisions (Education, Research , Justice, Culture and Communication, Foreign Affairs, European Affairs, Interior, Overseas).

Read more about”>Christane

Chika Unigwe – Writer

Chika Unigwe is the author of fiction, poetry, articles and educational material. She won the 2003 BBC Short Story Competition for her story “Borrowed Smile”, a Commonwealth Short Story Award for “Weathered Smiles” and a Flemish literary prize for “De Smaak van Sneeuw”, her first short story written in Dutch. Her first novel, De Feniks, was published in Dutch by Meulenhoff / Manteau in September 2005; it is the first book of fiction written by a Flemish author of African origin. “The Secret”, another of her short pieces, was nominated for the 2004 Caine Prize. She was the recipient of a 2007 Unesco-Aschberg fellowship for creative writing, and of a 2009 Rockefeller Foundation fellowship for creative writing. Chika Unigwe’s stories have been broadcast on BBC World Service, Radio Nigeria, and other Commonwealth Radio Stations. Chika Unigwe has recently published her second novel, On Black Sisters’ Street(first released in Dutch under the title Fata Morgana), a tale of choices and displacement set against the backdrop of the Antwerp prostitution scene.

Read more about Chika:

Valerie van de Kaa – Entrepreneur
The Netherlands

Valerie Van de Kaa
Valerie van de Kaa moved to the Netherlands from New York City with business and biology degrees in hand. She spent the next 6 years learning Dutch and studying skincare, botanical and mineral science, and the art and skill of product development and application before focusing on skin care for black women. She started the Valerie Skin Care Institute and launched ViVi Cosmetics International in 1992.

Visit ViVi Cosmetics

Lori van Echtelt – Entrepreneur
The Netherlands

Lori van Echtelt
Lori van Echtelt, Afro-Latina American is owner of Mariposa Import, Europe’s First and Original web shop for people with curly and afro hair since 2004. She is a former Financial Controller with 3 certificates in hairdressing. Hair has always been her hobby. She combined her hobby with her love of numbers to form Mariposa Import ( When she came to Europe in 2000 , she was frustrated at the lack of quality products available to the European public for people with curly and afro hair. A personal frustration became her business enterprise. Mariposa Import has grown many times over and now offers same day shipping for orders placed before 8:00pm.

Felicia Weathers – Lifestyle

Felicia Weathers made her opera debut in Kiel or Zürich . She made her first appearance at the Hamburg State Opera, and subsequently was a regular member there from 1966 to 1970. The majority of her career was centered in Germany. She recorded for the German branch of Decca. She did sing for the Chicago Lyric Opera in the 1960’s, appeared in roles at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in London in 1970, and made her Metropolitan Opera debut in New York in 1965, but voluntarily ended her opera career in 1972, reputedly owing to strain on the voice. She has remained active in German-speaking lands ever since, as a teacher, recitalist, and as a popular celebrity. (Written by Aryeh Oron (February 2008))

Rama Yade – Politics

Rama Yade is a French politician who served as a Sarkozy cabinet member from 2007 to 2010. Most recently she was Secretary of State for Sports. Yade worked at the Paris city hall and the National Assembly before becoming an administrator in the Senate in 2002. She was the National Secretary in charge of Francophonie for UMP in 2006. In May 2007, she was appointed as Secretary of State for Human Rights.


The list does not aim to assess rank but rather to underscore influential women (some well known, others up and coming stars) from five categories: business, lifestyle, media, politics, and social entrepreneurs/NGOs.


List editors:

Adrianne George | Editor

Adrianne George

Adrianne George is an American expat in Sweden who has lived in England and Belgium. She is the creator of the Black Women in Europe™: Power List, founder of the award-winning Black Women in Europe™ Blog, social network, and Linkedin Group. She is a board member of Democrats Abroad Sweden and the Black European Women’s Council. She set up and manages several social networks for expats and has launched a job board for expats in Sweden. She is the co-founder of the Women of the African Diaspora website and co-editor of Black

Mark Derek McCullough | Co-editor

Mark Derek McCullough

Mark Derek McCullough of Cuedos Design currently lives in Los Angeles, California. He has lived in the UK, Spain and Sweden working on various international graphic identity and commercial interior design projects. He is the Creative Director of Black and the AG Communication Group and its associated brands.

Design (logo):Mark Derek McCullough

Design (slideshow):Mark Derek McCullough | Adrianne George

Photo credits*

Diane Abbott: BBC
Floella Benjamin: Liberal Democrats UK
Naomi Campbell: Jesse Gross
Sandy Cane: Photo Agency
Maryse Conde: Leif R. Jansso
Joan Ferrier: Lex van Lieshout
Naide Gomes:
Tonya Graves: Jiri Turek
Caroline Henderson: José Louis Alcaine
Yelena Khanga: Vokrug TV
Iman: Wenn
Kanya King: Wenn
Oona King: Rebecca Reid
Grada Kolimba: Dawit Habtu
Veye Tatah: Frank Ufer
Chika Unigwe: Peter Gevers
Rama Yade: Marie-Lan Nguyen
*Every attempt was made to credit the photographer. If any credits are missing please send that information to for inclusion.

Special thank you to Nicola Sage and Dr. L. George for your set of fresh eyes!

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  1. Amazing women!!!!!!!

  2. […] List of the most powerful Black Women in Europe. […]

  3. Hoffmann Peter

    I dont’ see no list!

  4. […] The list is here on the blog Black Women in Europe, along with video and written biographies. Some of the videos have no English subtitles; the subjects speak the languages of their respective countries, so my focus is on English-speaking black women.  Here is a video of Dounne Alexander, MBE, who was recently lauded for her services to the British culinary industry above, […]

  5. […] George, award-winning blogger, founder & editor of Black Women in Europe™ offered me to join BWIE™ as a guest blogger on a monthly basis, allowing sharing my expertise […]

  6. […] award-winning athletes, activists and social entrepreneurs.View the slideshow, read the List, or check out their Bios to get more […]

  7. I like what you are doing here. It is important that we continue to uplift and support each other. Well done!

    I will add you site to the Black Transatlantic Business Network whose sole purpose is to connect us with each other and appreciate and uplift each other.

    Warmest Regards,
    A.V. Powers

  8. Thank you!

  9. Thank you, you are welcome!

  10. Love this. I like to link this so the sistas on my side of town can see themseles on a global scale.

  11. Thanks! The 2011 Power List will be out this Fall.

  12. […] Women List. She went right into action creating and publishing the first (and two subsequent) Most Powerful Black Women in Europe List 2010. My dear friend gets a heartfelt thanks from me for creating the networks where I met so many […]

  13. […] Hosted by race equality chief, Lord Herman Ouseley  this pre-election community round table event will take place on Monday 16th March 2015, chaired by BMH UK’s director Matilda MacAttram. […]

  14. […] Black Youth Achievements (BYA) is the initiative of our 2010 Power Lister Kay […]

  15. […] Editor’s note: Dianne Abbott is on our 2010 Power List. […]

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