Champion of Change: Roanne Adams

Roanne Adams is well aware of her favorable lot in life, but what she has also learned in recent years is the great responsibility that comes with it. “I understand that I’ve been living a very privileged life and so I have to make space for the people who haven’t had the privileged space to speak and to let them guide the conversation.”

Raised in Connecticut and Paris, and educated at Parsons, she began her career working as a graphic designer in the advertising and branding industry in New York City. But 11 years ago she struck out on her own to start her branding agency, now called RoAndCo, in part because she realized just how male-dominated the industry was. And as creative director of her studio, she quickly began to notice how few other female creative directors there were throughout the world. “I started getting asked the question, ‘how does it feel to be a female business owner?’ and I never knew how to answer that because I never knew how it felt to be a male business owner.”

As her business grew, Roanne began working with many female entrepreneurs and people who were passionate about advocating for equal pay and equal say for women. She also saw the opportunity to hire young women and nurture them and empower them to feel like they had “a seat at the table” and were part of the conversation. “I think, for women in leadership positions, it’s our job to help address and rebalance the sexism and toxic masculinity that exists,” she says. “It’s my role to hire women but it’s also important to me to hire men who already have that beautifully balanced masculine and feminine side.”

Last year RoAndCo launched the biannual magazine, Romance Journal, each issue of which explores human experiences “through the eyes of 10 powerful, thoughtful, and creative women awakening to their life's purpose.” The most recent issue centered on the theme “Resistance,” celebrating women who have been activists advocating for change for decades.

“It’s my way of giving back to all those women who have supported me all these years,” Roanne says of the purpose behind Romance Journal. “But, also, I hope it’s really inspiring and empowering for younger women to read those stories.”

Roanne is one of the many inspiring people selected as part of our Champions of Change campaign, which honors individuals who have made a difference in the lives of women and girls in the Metro New York area or globally.

Mikki Brammer