Tenyse Williams the Founder & Chief Communications Officer at Verified Consulting, a Brooklyn, NY-based boutique marketing consulting firm collaborating with celebrity personalities, businesses and nonprofits across the US agreed to sit down with The HerStory Magazine for this exclusive interview.
Our conversation started with us comparing the treacherous snow she was experiencing on the East Coast to the barely light ice we were freaking out about in Mississippi. There was no comparison which oddly also describes Tenyse’s courage, hustle, and do-it-scared mentality...this is HerStory.
HerStoryMag: How are you?
Tenyse: I am well, it has been a busy but exciting week.
HerStoryMag: Yes, I saw you had a billboard up in Times Square. What a blessing.
Tenyse: Thank you. Yes! It is truly a blessing and I always like to thank God first. The billboard was amazing. It was not on the side of Times Square but directly in the middle where the ball dropped. So, it was truly surreal. I was in awe. I just could not believe looking up and seeing a billboard with my face and name, in my hometown. It was so full circle. I cannot explain it.
HerStoryMag: What a moment. I can only imagine. I am sitting here now on the floor in my bedroom with a million sticky notes everywhere, praying over them, visualizing, and speaking life about my next steps and seeing that through you reassured me that it can happen. Thank you for sharing that experience with us. So, let us dive right in... Where were you born and raised?
Tenyse: I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York City, specifically the neighborhood of Bed-Stuy that was in Brooklyn.
HerStoryMag: OK, Brooklyn girl. What about your family life, were you raised with both parents and siblings?
Tenyse: Yes. I have an interesting background. I was raised by my mom in a single-parent household. I would not say a totally single-parent home because she did get married to my stepdad, and then unfortunately, they divorced, but he is still a prominent father figure in my life. I also had my village and my community including my grandmother. They were very instrumental in helping me and ensuring that I was aware of not only my background but also my history. I was fortunate enough to have an amazing family that helped mold and guided me.
HerStoryMag: That is amazing. I also read that your mom was a police officer. How was that for you growing up?
Tenyse: She was a wonderful mother who would not let up on homework or my dreams. She pushed me, and even though it was sometimes annoying, I now understand why. I was exposed to different neighborhoods, diverse groups, and many different skill sets. I am grateful for her and because she was a police officer and had that investigative spirit -- as a teenager, nothing got past her.
HerStoryMag: Lol. So, tell me about middle school Tenyse. What kind of student were you?
Tenyse: Middle school was amazing and quite interesting. It is the time between you still being a kid and moving into those teenage years. I was a daydreamer with big dreams and active in different programs. In the sixth grade, I started taking the train by myself. I went to the New York City Museum School. It was a public school where we would visit museums throughout NYC twice a week. At the end of each quarter, I had to present my research and findings of each exhibition from each museum my class visited. It honed my skills in communication, research, becoming an orator, and producing projects. All around, it made me a nerd for history.
HerStoryMag: What were you daydreaming about?
Tenyse: I was daydreaming but always with purpose as I always had a business idea. I always had a business sort of mindset or a publicity mindset to make me more popular.
HerStoryMag: Why were you in middle school thinking about business? Where did that come from?
Tenyse: It came from my family. My maternal and paternal. My grandmother, Bessie Williams, was and still is a pillar in her community in Brooklyn. She is now a retired real estate broker who would bring the community together through events and fundraisers she would produce. She also started a group home for recovering addicts called the Williams Home during the times of the crack epidemic that hit our communities in Brooklyn and across the city. She started a group home, a recovery program, and a soup kitchen. I was right there with her when she would do these things. My mom was also a D.A.R.E. officer and taught classes on drug prevention. Her skills teaching were instrumental in helping me in my role as Adjunct Instructor Specialist in Digital Marketing for both Columbia University in NY and George Washington University in DC.
HerStoryMag: OK, so you have matured and transitioned into high school, what is going on with Tenyse?
Tenyse: Oh, high school was fun and the place where I became more serious. I had an interesting high school dynamic because I was in school in Brooklyn, and my mom decided to move us to upstate New York. So, I finished my junior and senior year upstate in the city of Kerhonkson, NY.
HerStoryMag: We read every day about children being bullied or having low self-esteem in school, do you remember any instances of those things happening to you?
Tenyse: I can honestly say that being an extrovert helped me navigate even the most unfortunate situations with my self-esteem remaining intact. I credit having a strong mother and solid family foundation for this and feel very blessed.
HerStoryMag: What college did you attend?
Tenyse: I attended and graduated from Long Island University, Brooklyn Campus.
HerStoryMag: How was that experience?
Tenyse: I went to college when I was seventeen. I was young, so my mom had to sign off on a lot of things like living in the dorm and a few activities. I majored in Journalism and minored in Media Arts and was thrilled to graduate Magna Cum Laude. Just as importantly, I joined the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and to this day my sorority sisters are a big part of my life!
HerStory: It takes a lot to be an ambitious person. Where did you get the confidence?
Tenyse: Confidence comes from surrounding yourself with others who believe in you and I had that in abundance. And, of course, it grows when ideas become successful initiatives. I am proud of what my team has accomplished at Verified Consulting and the many organizations and people we have helped.
HerStoryMag: You are grown now, a college graduate and navigating through this thing we call life. How is your mindset? What are some of the positive and negative thoughts that are invading your mind?
Tenyse: Everyone in business has doubts. Beginning at such a young age, I knew I could overcome early mistakes and that gave me the confidence to try new things. And, now, my mindset is to put all ideas on the table and with my team and my clients we determine the best next step forward.
HerStoryMag: Thank you for that honesty. We have discussed our faith in God throughout this entire conversation.
Tenyse: I pray, and I have learned to let go and let God. It is easier said than done but I trust him. So that is the first thing I do. The second thing I do is think about my ancestors, grandparents, and my great-grandparents and how the post-enslavement generations pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and were able to buy our home in Bed-Stuy which we still live in today! They moved from the South to the North and saw what they needed to do. I remind myself that I come from a legacy of people whose odds were stacked against them, but they continued to move and push forward. And I could too.
HerStoryMag: That is amazing. I believe in the power of words and what they mean. Words have different meanings for everyone. I am going to give you a few words and I want you to tell me what your definition is. Let us start with love. How do you define it?
Tenyse: I define love as knowing yourself and being content with who you are. Because only when you love yourself will your heart open to love others.
HerStoryMag: How do you define a woman?
Tenyse: Leading and loving others while breaking barriers for the good. Empowerment and having the ability to have a sixth sense.
HerStoryMag: Next word, how do you define a Black woman?
Tenyse: For me, a Black woman is one who is nurturing and balancing the complexities of life. We are the mothers of the world. We are the mother of civilizations. We are a symbol of strength, resilience, and grace. We are the influence of the world. We make things pop. We make things happen; we make it look good. No one can deny that in any country we go to there are Black women and let me tell you something, everyone admires them.
HerStoryMag: (**10 Snaps**) How do you define power?
Tenyse: Power to me is beyond money. It is the capacity to influence and shape the outcome and have a hand in the future that will leave a lasting and meaningful impact.
HerStoryMag: What have you learned about womanhood that could help empower and encourage another woman?
Tenyse: I encourage women that whatever it is you want to do, do it and if you are scared to do it, do it scared. I still get scared. Even with the client successes my agency has had, sometimes my stomach still ties up in knots -- but I power through and you should too!
HerStoryMag: At the end of every interview, I always ask every woman to answer the same question. To help leave your impression on every reader, in hopes that they will be able to identify their purpose through yours, please answer the question Who Am I?
Tenyse: I would say I am purposeful, ambitious, and creative. While my work is serious, I am a kid at heart and most importantly. I love my family.
Tenyse A. Williams
Marketing Leader, Educator, and Passionate Mentor