From getting out the vote to helping women build communities abroad, Adrianne does it all
“A lot of Americans living abroad don’t realize they can still vote in U.S. elections,” explains Adrianne Lind, founder of AG Communications Group. “They can vote in the majority of state elections and all federal elections. A lot of my work with Democrats Abroad focuses on educating Democrats abroad — because there are always elections happening in the U.S., between ‘standard’ scheduled elections to special elections and other issues we’re voting on.”
The numbers, Adrianne explains, had been at a historic low — until the 2020 elections. This past year saw record numbers.
“This was a critical election, and Americans everywhere — in the U.S. and abroad — cast their vote. We’re very proud about that.”
For Adrianne, politics has always been in her blood. A “born Democrat,” her family instilled the importance of civic responsibility.
“I couldn’t wait to turn 18 and vote,” she says. “When I moved overseas, I still never missed an election. I knew I could get an absentee ballot, and I did. But when John Kerry lost in 2004, I started to hear more and more about Democrats Abroad. Then when President Obama ran, I got more involved — local viewing parties, things like that,” Adrianne explains. “Now my work centers on getting the word out and helping Americans living abroad feel connected — so July 4th parties and Thanksgiving and making sure they know how and when to get and cast their ballots. You’re an American no matter where you live.”
Supporting Black women in Europe
That, though, is just a piece of this dynamic entrepreneur’s life.
“I also run a non-profit social network for Black women living in Europe. When I moved to Europe in 2000 I felt a real need to make those connections — but when I moved to Sweden in 2006, that need became even stronger,” Adrianne explains. “I assumed — and rightfully — that I wasn’t the only one feeling that way, so I started doing research. There wasn’t really a group that existed. But in my research I connected with amazing Black women in politics, sports, music, media — women who were lawyers in the European Court of Human Rights. Women at every level of their careers who, like me, wanted that connection.”
Quickly, her idea took shape and, in 2006, she rolled out her network. Now, nearly 15 years later, the Black Women in Europe blog is thriving, with members in every European country.
“As soon as Black Women in Europe started, there was such a positive response,” Adrianne says. “Women would contact me and say, ‘oh, I’m in France or Germany or Russia or Poland and I don’t know anyone,’ and we were able to help create those connections. Sometimes it’s simple — a woman will post that she’s considering moving to a certain country or city and other women will chime in with their feedback and experiences and recommendations. Other times it’s a woman posting and saying she’s in a new city and feels lonely — and, suddenly, she has all of these women right around the corner posting and asking her to coffee. It warms my heart.”
One connection, in particular, truly stands out.
“A member in Germany posted that she needed a safe place to stay. She was living with her boyfriend and the situation had become dangerous — she was scared and alone. Another woman nearby quickly jumped in and offered her a place to stay. She wrote, ‘get out and come stay with me,’” Adrianne says. “It’s a welcoming community and they really care about each other.”
Powering Black women in Europe and beyond
Black Women in Europe garnered even greater global attention, Adrianne explains, when they began publishing a “power list” in 2010. Inspired by Michelle Obama topping Forbes’ list that same year, their Black Women in Europe Power List is now an annual round up of women changing the world and shattering glass ceilings in virtually every industry.
“I admit, the power list was a little selfish,” Adrianne says. “In researching and writing it, I got to find and connect with the most incredible Black women doing amazing things all throughout Europe — Black women scientists getting awards from the Queen, opera singers, writers, artists, lawyers, everyone. It was inspiring, and people really latched onto it, which was great.”
This list — and her growing social network — has also shined a bright light on the power of Black women in Europe.
“We’re everywhere,” Adrianne says. “There are very high concentrations of Black women in the UK, Germany, and France — but that’s not surprising. If you look back at African-American culture, these places have been romanticized throughout the decades. Paris was a refuge for African-American artists and academics to go and escape racism in the 1920s and, again, in the 1960s. But you also see women like me who came for academic and education reasons and just stayed.”
One woman, Adrianne mentions, recently connected when she came from Wisconsin to Denmark. A visiting professor, she was in Europe to study researching African-Americans in these artist communities. After her work was up, though, she wound up staying in Scandinavia.
“There are so many brave women here — women who pack up their lives, their careers, their kids and come to Europe. Then, there are the women born here who have such interesting stories to tell.”
What comes next…
Looking ahead, Adrianne is focused on creating scholarships and other opportunities for young Black women in Europe — specifically those focused on studying media, journalism, and entrepreneurship.
“I want to support the next generation of women who do their own thing and want to tell their stories. It’s such an exciting prospect, and something I’m so passionate about.”