Breaking barriers with elegance: Meet the ‘Sweet 16’ president leading the charge at the National Coalition of 100 Black Women


Tenise Cornelius is the newly elected resident of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women Indianapolis Chapter. Standing tall on their mission, the National Coalition of 100 Black Women is dedicated to advocating on behalf of Black women and girls in the areas of health, education and economic empowerment.

Cornelius has been a member of the Indianapolis Chapter for ten years. “I’ve been on trajectory with the organization ever since that time. I came in working, and that’s what we’re always looking for, a few good women who want to advocate on behalf of Black women and girls,” said Cornelius.

Cornelius has held numerous positions within the organization. She was chairwoman of the economic empowerment committee, vice president and now president of the Indianapolis Chapter.

“I would say, the highlights for our organization is Gourmet Gents, without a doubt,” said Cornelius. “Gourmet Gents is our signature fundraiser. For us, that is a way that we do our major fundraising. It’s an event that has been around for a number of years. I think the community looks forward to attending on an annual basis.”

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Cornelius also highlighted two other initiatives that are near and dear to her and the organization members’ hearts.

“Under our education and mentoring program, we have the Academy for Girls. That program will be celebrating 30 years in October 2024. We have a tried-and-true mentoring program that we have established and have residence in various Indianapolis Public Schools. Right now, we are working on a different concept where we are open citywide; where any girl who is high school age is more than welcome to be a part of the Academy for Girls,” said Cornelius. “The third thing I would say is Sisternomics. Sisternomics falls under our economic empowerment initiative, and we believe in the philosophy that Black women have to put ourselves first. We know that if we go down, the entire house goes down. We have to take care of ourselves to be the bright shining stars that we are in our families’ lives.”

The National Coalition of 100 Black Women Indianapolis Chapter swears in newly elected board members. (Photos provided/NCBW)

When asked about community outreach, Cornelius said that she believes children are the future, just as the late Whitney Houston said in her song “Greatest Love of All.”

“We pour into our community with our mentoring program. We are building leaders because I believe children are our future. Remember that old Whitney Houston song [‘Greatest Love of All’]? That song sets the tone for how we pour into not only the young girls that we mentor, but also the women that we mentor.”

As Cornelius takes the helm, her vision for the National Coalition of 100 Black Women – a commitment to advocacy, empowerment and the cultivation of leaders who will shape a brighter future for Black women and girls in Indianapolis – remains steadfast.

Members of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women – Indianapolis Chapter convene with their new president Tenise Cornelius (front row, center).

Kendra Nowell, who has been a coalition member for approximately 6 months and serves as the organization’s parliamentarian, praised Cornelius’ impact on the organization.

“It’s just been great to watch her [Cornelius’] leadership and her journey as the president, the 16th president, so we’re calling her our ‘Sweet 16’ for this organization that’s been around the city of Indianapolis, that has been around doing impactful work for over 40 years,” said Nowell “There is a great sense of pride when it comes to Black women and being able to spotlight Tenise, her vision, and the work that she’s doing, and where she’s going to take our chapter of 90 women up to a whole other platform is amazing to watch.”