Black Women in Europe™: Power List 2011 – A List of Our Own©
In 2010 the Black Women in Europe™ Blog released its first Power List naming 58 women across Europe in 6 categories. The 2011 list names 35 women in 9 categories: Athletics, Entrepreneurship & Business, Law, Lifestyle, Literature, Media, Politics, Science and Social Activism. This list, presented in alphabetical order, is intended to acknowledge powerful black women in Europe and to inspire others to reach their full potential. Read the methodology.
Andrea Adams – Italy – Media – Co-founder of Travelista TV and creator of The Velvet Circle
Ms. Adams is the Cultural Enthusiast and co-founder of Travelista TV, an online travel channel. With her travel partner, she executive produces travel segments in exotic locales and hosts entertainment/red carpet interviews for AOL, BET.com and TVOne online. She is the creator of The Velvet Circle, a lifestyle media and event company focused on art, style, and hotspots in Italy.
Urszula Bhebhe – Poland – Athletics- Poland’s first black athletic champion
Urszula Bhebhe has made her mark as Poland’s first black athletics champion. It is estimated that blacks make up 4,000 of Poland’s 38 million citizens. In February Bhebhe won gold in the 60-metre hurdles at Polish indoor championships with a time of 8.43 seconds. The 19-year-old competes for AZS AWF, the team from Warsaw’s sports science university. Bhebhe’s grandmother was Polish and married a Zimbabwean.
Malorie Blackman – UK – Literature – Award Winning Writer
Ms. Blackman has won 19 literary prizes for her books written for children and teenagers. She has also written a play and TV scripts and original dramas for CITV and BBE Education.
Alina Buchschacher – Switzerland – Lifestyle – Miss Switzerland 2011
Alina Buchschacher is from Bern, Switzerland. She is a student and horse enthusiast.
Maryse Condé – France – Literature – Award Winning Writer
Maryse Condé was born in Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe, a small French/Creole-speaking Caribbean island. She was sent by her parents to Paris, where she was educated at Lycée Fénéleon and Sorbonne, majoring in English. Condé has lived in London and worked for the BBC as a program producer. Teaching assignments include Jussieau, Nanterre, and Sorbonne Nouvelle. Condé was a course director at Sorbonne. Condé has received several awards, including Grand Prix Littéraire de la Femme: Prix Alain Boucheron, Prix de l’Académie Française, Grand Prix Littéraire des jeunes lecteurs de l’Ile de France, Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur, Certificat d’Honneur Maurice Cagnon du Conseil International d’Études Francophones (CIEF), and most recently the French Officer of the National Order of the Legion of Honor medal. She lives between New York and Paris.
Noella Coursaris – UK – Lifestyle – Model and Philanthropist
Noëlla Coursaris is a model, humanitarian and philanthropist. Noëlla was born in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). At age 5, she sadly lost her father, and lacking the resources to raise her, her mother sent her to live with relatives in Europe. Noëlla has addressed UNICEF and the Congolese Parliament about issues facing underprivileged girls, was a panelist in the Global Creative Leadership Summit in 2009 and is frequently invited to speak for the United Nations. Noëlla was educated in Belgium and Switzerland, and after achieving a degree in business management, she moved to London. Her successful modeling career brought Noëlla to New York where she started the Georges Malaika Foundation (GMF) in 2007.
Rougui Dia – Lifestyle – France – Head chef at 144 PETROSSIAN
Source: African Diaspora Tourism
Rougui Dia was born in Paris’ 12th arrondissement. She is fourth in a family of seven siblings – two brothers and five sisters. Her parents hail from the village of N’Danno in northern Senegal, where they married and had their first two children. With the exception of two years in Senegal prior to beginning elementary school, and two months of summer vacation at age ten, she grew up in Paris and the nearby suburb of Neuilly-Plaisance.
Rokhaya Diallo – Social Activism – France – Founder of Indivisible, Journalist and commentator on Canal Plus TV
Rokhaya Diallo is the founder and president of Les Indivisibles, a French organization that uses humor and irony to fight racism and stereotypes. By raising awareness of these issues, Les Indivisibles seeks to engage the French public as well as government leaders in creating an alternative discourse. Ms. Diallo regularly contributes to RTL, the main radio station in France. She is also a columnist and commenter on the TV channel Canal Plus. Ms. Diallo is the co-author of L’Appel Pour une Republique Multiculturelle et Postraciale (Respect Magazine editions), and Racisme: mode d’emploi.
Rose Dieng-Kuntz – France – Science – Posthumous Award – Award-winning researcher in Artificial Intelligence
Obituary by Emmanuelle Delsol, Le Monde Informatique
Rose Dieng-Kuntz, a researcher at Sophia Antipolis, died at age 52 as a result of disease. Specialist in artificial intelligence, she ran for several years the work on knowledge management and semantic web at INRIA. She was the first African woman admitted to the Ecole Polytechnique in 1976 and held a degree from ENST, a postgraduate degree in computer science and a PhD on the specification of parallelism. After debuting at Digital Equipment, she joined INRIA Sophia Antipolis to participate in projects of artificial intelligence in 1985.
Pierre Haren, ILOG founder, remembers “Rose Dieng since 1969, my first distribution of prizes in high school Van Vollenhoven in Dakar, where she won all the top prizes. [I] admired her meteoric trajectory.” In 2005 Rose Dieng-Kuntz was awarded the Irène Joliot-Curie award for exceptional women scientists. The following year she was named Chevalier of the National Order of the Legion of Honor. Minister of Higher Education and Research, Valérie Pécresse has expressed deep sadness at the death of Rose Dieng-Kuntz. “France and science have lost a visionary and a huge talent,” she added.
Waris Dirie – Austria – Social Activism – Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur; Founder of the Desert Flower Foundation fighting against female genital mutilation
Waris Dirie is a Somali model, author, actress and human rights activist. Waris was discovered by photographer Terence Donovan in London and began a successful modeling career. In 1987, Waris played a minor role in the James Bond movie The Living Daylights and appeared on the runways of London, Milan, Paris and New York City, and in fashion magazines such as Elle, Glamour and Vogue. In 1995 by a BBC documentary entitled A Nomad in New York about her modeling career. In 1997 Waris spoke for the first time with Laura Ziv of the women’s magazine Marie Claire about the female genital cutting (FGC) that she had undergone as a child, an interview which received worldwide media coverage. That same year, Waris became a UN ambassador for the abolition of FGC, and later paid her mother a visit in her native Somalia. In 2009, a feature-length film based on Waris’ book Desert Flower was released, with the Ethiopian supermodel Liya Kebede playing her. In January 2010, it won the Bavarian Film Awards in Munich in the Best Movie category and was nominated for a Film Award in Gold in the Outstanding Feature Film category at the German Film Awards, and won the Audience Award in the Best European Film category at the San Sebastián International Film Festival. In 2010, Waris was appointed Peace Ambassador for the Year of Peace and Security by the African Union.
In 2002, she founded the Desert Flower Foundation in Vienna, Austria, an organization aimed at raising awareness regarding the dangers surrounding Female Genital Cutting. Waris followed that in January 2009 with the establishment of the PPR Foundation for Women’s Dignity and Rights’, an organization she founded along with French tycoon François-Henri Pinault (CEO of PPR) and his wife, Hollywood actress Salma Hayek. Waris has also started the Desert Dawn Foundation, which raises money for schools and clinics in her native Somalia, and supports the Zeitz Foundation, an organization focused on sustainable development and conservation. Waris has received many prizes and awards for her humanitarian work and books.
Melinda Victoria Elvenes – Norway – Lifestyle – Miss Norway Universe 2010 and Miss Universe 2010 contestant (Frøken Norge)
Melinda Victoria, was born to a Norwegian father and a Motswana mother. After having lived in Botswana for the first 12 years of her life she moved to Norway, where she became a student at the respected Norwegian Opera and Ballet School. She started modeling in 2005 and in 2010, Melinda Victoria won the title of Miss Norway Universe and competed in the Miss Universe Competition the same year.
Huguette Fatna – France – Politics – Central Committee and Political Bureau Member of the National Front Party
Hugette Fatna is a member of the political bureau and member of the central committee of the National Front Party. She is decorated with the Flame of Honor of the National Front and has been a party member since 1981. She was appointed the party’s regional advisor of Alsace in March 2010.
Kathleen Ferrier – The Netherlands – Politics – Member of Parliament
Kathleen Ferrier has been a member of the Dutch House of Representatives since 2002. She sits on the Foreign Affairs, Defense, European Affairs, Education, Culture and Science, and Dutch parliamentary delegation to the OSCE committees.
Carlene Firmin – UK – Social Activism – Youngest black woman to receive MBE
Carlene Firmin became the youngest black woman to receive a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) title in February. She received the MBE, for services to women and girls from the Queen of England at Buckingham Palace. Carlene Firmin is a principal policy adviser at the Office of the Children’s Commissioner for England and was previously the assistant director of policy and research at Barnardo’s , and a senior policy officer at Race on the Agenda, where she led its Female Voice in Violence research programmed. In 2010 she founded the Girls Against Gangs (GAG) project, supporting women affected by gang violence to become empowered to act as local advisors on gender and youth violence. She is also a columnist for SocietyGuardian for the last year and received a London Peace Award in 2008 for bridging the gap between policymakers and young people.
Mercedes Frias – Italy – Politics – First black member of Parliament
Mercedes Lourdes Frias was born in the Dominican Republic. She was the first black person elected to the Italian Parliament in 2006 where she served through April 2008. She was a member of the Commission on Constitutional Affairs and the Parliamentary Committee on the Implementation of the Control of Schengen Agreement, and the Control and Surveillance on Immigration. She works on anti-racist activities and welcoming immigrants. From 1994 1997 she was a member of the Council of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy. In the town of Empoli Ms Frias served a councilor for the environment, rights of citizenship, equal opportunities.
Steffi Jones – Germany – Athletics – President of the organizing committee of the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup
Stephanie Ann “Steffi” Jones is a retired German football defender. She now works as a football administrator, and is in charge of organizing the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany. From 1997, she won three consecutive European Championships with the German team, bronze at the 2000 Summer Olympics, was part of the German squad that won the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup, and in 2004, she won Olympic bronze for the second time in Athens.
Iman Kerigo – Norway – Lifestyle – Miss Norway 2010
Iman Kerigo won the title of Miss Norway in 2010 at the age of 18, and went on to compete for the Miss Earth title in Vietnam. Her family moved from Kenya to Kløfta, Norway when she was 8 years old.
Brenda King – England – Social Activism – Member of the European Economic and Social Committee
Brenda King wears multiple hats including the Chief Executive of African & Caribbean Diversity, Commissioner, Women’s National Commission (WNC) , a member of the Advisory Board of Hays Executive, and a member of the Advisory Board of the Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO).
Aïssa Maïga – France – Lifestyle – Nominated for the Most Promising Actress at the 2007 César Award for her acting in Bamako
Aissa Maiga was born in Dakar, Senegal and moved to France with her parents when she was 4 years old. Aissa studied acting in college, earned small roles before being cast in Saraka Bo, a TV detective series. She has acted in many films including L’avocat (2010), L’aide au retour (2009), Diamant 13 (2009), Les insoumis (2008) as Kathia, Bianco e nero (2008) as Nadine, L’âge d’homme… maintenant ou jamais! (2007) as Tina, Carcasse (2007), Prête-moi ta main (2006) as Kirsten Hansen, Je vais bien, ne t’en fais pas (2006) as Léa, Bamako (2006) as Melé, Paris, je t’aime (2006) as Sophie (segment “Place des Fêtes”), Mamadou il est ou (2006) as Mariettou, Travaux, on sait quand ça commence… (2005) as La fiancée de Condé, Caché (2005) as Chantal, Les Poupées russes (2005) as Kassia, L’un reste, l’autre part (2005) as Farida, Libre armada (2004), “Commissaire Moulin” as Dolly (1 episode, 2003), Mes enfants ne sont pas comme les autres (2003) as Myriam, Les baigneuses (2003) as La soeur de Rita and 11 others.
Kornelia Donato Mango – Russia – Music – Singer, Artist, Reality TV Star
Cornelia Mango, born in Astrakhan, is a soul and R n B singer. She was a contestant on Star Factory, has a degree in art, and had shown her work at three exhibitions. She was also a contestant on the Russian equivalent of the Survivor reality show.
Watch Kornelia Mango – Novie Pesni o Glavnom (New Year) in Music | View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com
Inna Modja – France – Music – Pop star, fashion icon
“I’m what I call ‘rock ‘n’ love’”, she tells Reuters Africa Journal when asked how she herself would categorize her music. “It’s not rock ‘n’ roll because I don’t go silly drinking or taking drugs, but I’m really rock, so I’m ‘rock ‘n’ love’.”
Saido Mohamed – Finland – Social Activism – Refugee Woman of the Year, Deputy Chairwoman of the Finnish Somalia Network
Source: Helsinki Times
Somali-born special nurse Saido Mohamed has volunteered with bodies such as the Finnish Somali Association and carried out preliminary outreach work for the youth organization Kanava Nuorisory, in which adult Somalis are on call on week nights and weekends in areas affected by unrest by young Somalis. Mohamed worked with the Finnish League for Human Rights in 2002 on the KokoNainen project, a preventative initiative against female circumcision. Saido Mohamed currently serves as the deputy chairwoman of the Finnish Somalia Network, and is the only woman serving on the network’s board. Over the last ten years she has also cooperated on a voluntary basis with the association Sahedry, serving as chairwoman of the board this year.
Funmi Odegbami – England – Business & Entrepreneurship- Founder of MINK, makeup education and services for women of color
Funmi Odegbami was a successful makeup artist when she founded MINK London in the summer of 2005. She founded MINK to fill the gap between the makeup services provided to white women and those provided to black women and decided that MINK would lead the way in makeup education and services for women of color. In addition to the international makeup school in London MINK has a professional team of makeup artists. In 2011 Funmi has partnered with Mahogany international in an exclusive one year deal which will see her pro-team providing the makeup services for Mahogany’s three major UK shows, Mahogany Brides, Top Model of Color and Fashion Diversity.
Lola Odusoga-Wallinkoski – Finland – Lifestyle – Former Miss Finland 1996, former Miss Scandinavia 1997, 2nd runner-up Miss Universe 1996
Lola Remilekun Odusoga Wallinkoski was born in Turku, Finland and is a Finnish model and Miss Finland 1996. In 1997, she won the crown of Miss Scandinavia. On 17 June 1996 at the Miss Universe competition she was second-runner up. She is a television presenter.
Safia Otokoré – France – Politics – Vice-President of the Regional Council of Burgundy
Safia Otokoré was born in Djibouti and is a French politician, member of the Socialist Party, educator and an athlete. In 2001 she was elected Deputy Mayor of the town of Auxerre. In 2004 she was elected Regional Councilor of Burgundy Region 1 . She became vice president in charge of the region with the responsibility for International Affairs and Sports.
Lorraine Pascale – England – Business & Entrepreneurship – The face of Sainsbury’s and Host of BBC TV Cooking and Baking Shows, Caterer
Chef, baker and patissier
Lorraine Pascale grew up in Oxfordshire, England. At age 16, she was spotted by a model scout and her modeling career lead to her being the first British black model on the cover of American Elle. On completing the Leith’s Diploma of Food and Wine, Lorraine did a two year foundation degree in International Culinary Arts in Pastry and then worked in some of the most renowned kitchens of the world before starting her own business creating celebration cakes. She has hosted two cookery series on the BBC and has written two books.
George Pau-Langevin – France – Politics – Member of Parliament
George Pau-Langevin was born in Guadeloupe and studied at the Sorbonne and the University of Paris II. She is the former president of the Movement against Racism and for Friendship Among Peoples, and the National Agency for the Integration and Promotion of Workers Overseas. She has held numerous other positions including advisor to the mayor of Paris and was awarded the National Order of the Legion of Honor. She monitors issues of justice in France particularly access to the law, juvenile justice, and citizen participation in the administration of justice. She has written several books including:
George Pau-Langevin s’exprime sur l’introduction… by GroupeSRC
Igiaba Scego – Italy – Literature – Award-winning author
Igiaba Scego was born in Rome in 1974 to Somali parents. She writes for l’Unità, “Internazionale” and many other magazines that talk about migrations and African cultures, such as “Nigrizia”. Her books include: Pecore nere (Laterza 2005), Oltre Babilonia (Donzelli 2008) and La mia casa è dove sono (Rizzoli 2010) winner of the Mondello award.
Intervista a Igiaba Scego by afrikanews
Patricia Sellers – England – Law – Special Legal Advisor to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Professor
Patricia Sellers is on the faculty of Oxford University. Additionally she is Special Legal Advisor to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflict. From 1994-2007, Professor Sellers was the Legal Advisor for Gender Related Crimes and Senior Acting Trial Attorney in the Office of the Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. Prior to her work as an international prosecutor, Professor Sellers served at the Directorate General for External Relations at the European Commission, and the Ford Foundation in Rio de Janeiro.
Mary Lee Sjönell – Sweden – Media – Producer
Mary Lee was educated in the States and has produced more than 800 commercials and has 10 years of feature film production experience, ranging from assistant camera, script revisions, art dept and production coordinator, to assistant accountant. Productions include among others “Passion Fish”, “Lonesome Dove”, “The Hot Spot” and “Dune”. She created 10 educational films for The Institute of Texan Cultures, Texas Education Agency, and Richmond Public Schools among others. She has 3 written concepts for TV-series produced by American television. Her short films include “Salong Elisabeth” for Swedish Public Service TV, “Shadows …that which is cast”, “Aut”, and “X Street”. Mary Less has 3 commissions for drama series for Swedish Television and 1 commissioned feature film script for the Swedish Film Institute.
Hapsatou Sy – France – Business & Entrepreneurship – Award-winning founder of Ethnicia beauty salons
At the age of 24 in July 2005, Sy Hapsatou launched Ethnicia following training in international trade and a trip to New York City. Her salon opened on the Ile Saint-Louis. In 2007 she won the second prize for innovation in business, a competition for young entrepreneurs held by Unibail Rodamco. There are now 14 Ethnicia “spaces” in France with two set to open internationally. Franchise opportunities are available.
Pamela Thomas-Graham – Business & Entrepreneurship – Switzerland – Member of the Executive Board of Credit Suisse Group AG and Credit Suisse AG
Pamela Thomas-Graham has been the Chief Talent, Branding and Communications Officer and a member of the Executive Board of Credit Suisee Group AG and Credit Suisse AG since January 2010. Prior to joining the Group, Ms. Thomas-Graham was a Managing Director in the private equity group of Angelo, Gorden & Co., a New York-based investment management firm, from 2008 to 2010. She previously served as Group President of Liz Claiborne Inc.’s women’s wholesale apparel business from 2005 to 2008. Ms. Thomas-Graham was at NBC for six years from 1999 to 2005, where she served as President, CEO and Chairwoman of CNBC television and a Director of CNBC International. She also served as the President and CEO of CNBC.com. Prior to that, she worked at McKinsey & Company for ten years from 1989 to 1999. Ms. Thomas-Graham obtained a BA in Economics from Harvard University in 1985, a JD from Harvard Law School in 1989 and an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1989.
Victoria Walldin – Sweden – Lifestyle – Anthropologist
Viktoria Walldin works with architects to ensure that their green designs are in tune with urban culture. She uses participation and analysis to determine how people use spaces and places and what does and does not work. Fascinated by the “space syntax” method and how it relates to anthropology, Viktoria puts her research all together so that the architects and the end users are on the same blueprint.
Virginia Wangare-Greiner – Germany – Social Activism – Founder of Maisha – fighting for immigrant African women in Germany
Virginia Wangare-Greiner is the founder of Maisha, a self-help organization for African women in Germany which dates back to 1996. The concept is to empower each other to become a proud and active part of German society but at the same time remain firmly rooted in our African background culture that provides us with a special kind of strength.
Rhoda Wilson – England – Media – TV Host
Rhoda Wilson was born in Lagos, Nigeria and was sent to England at 17 to attend one of the top boarding schools in the country, Hurtwood House after Rhoda’s mother died when she was 13. In 1997 Rhoda graduated from Polytechnic of Central London (now Westminster University) with a BA in Business Studies and in 1999, from Middlesex University, with MSc in Financial Management. In 2003 Rhoda started Cosmo Music and Cosmo’s first concert was a two night’s event at the London’s 2000-seat Shepherds Bush Empire in May 2004. It featured the New York based, million-selling band Alabina (who have played sell-out shows everywhere from Los Angeles to Moscow) and was a huge success. The first production of The Rhoda Wilson Show was broadcast on the 4th of December 2005 on OBE TV. Rhoda was recently voted as Best TV Presenter, BEFFTA 2009. Rhoda is also working on a number of documentaries and short films for festivals around the world. She is the founding president of ACWAL, the African & Caribbean Women’s Achievements & Leadership foundation.