Allison Black Cornelius is the President of Blackfish Strategies, formerly Blackboard Consulting. Her work includes a professional speaking and training tour that numbers over 100 public appearances each year to private nonprofits, leadership groups, faith-based organizations, students, physicians, law enforcement, counselors, legal professionals, government groups, and business groups nationwide. She also lecturers regularly for counseling, leadership, women’s issues, and special education classes at some of America’s most prestigious colleges.
Allison is also well known for her work on public policy relating to families and is regularly called upon to assist community groups in their efforts to establish effective and creative private-public partnerships. She trains non-profit, faith-based, and government groups on board development and private/public economic development initiatives. She has extensive experience and a special interest in working with and training faith-based groups. She has trained thousands of board members of both nonprofit and for-profit corporations and has assisted the policy offices of twenty-three U.S. Governors. She assisted with the writing, organization and passage of Megan's Law in thirty-six states (including the original legislation in New Jersey), Alabama's Constitutional Amendment for Victim's Rights, and the legislation that created the Alabama Department of Children’s Affairs. She architected the Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives for 23 United States Governors, helped organize Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) programs in three states and has trained and recruited families for state therapeutic foster care programs.
In 1998 she worked with AFRA to help them develop fair "move-away/relocation" legislation to protect parents. She also completed a collaboration between Children's Trust Fund and the Supreme Court Center for Dispute Resolution to design and implement Truce Talks - - a mediation program for embattled divorcing or never-married parents. Allison received recognition from HHS Secretary Dr. Wade Horn for this program and was invited to present the program at two national Health & Human Services conferences in Washington D.C.
Ms. Black Cornelius has received awards and recognition from groups including: Girl Scouts Women of Distinction, National Crime Victim's Commission, the Adolescent Psychiatric Nurse's Association, National Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Professional Speakers, Civitan, Rotary, Kiwanis, United Way, Parents Anonymous, NOW, and the President's Commission on Families and Children. In 1998 she was one of ten leaders selected by the National Junior Chamber of Commerce for their 72nd Annual Ten Outstanding Young American's Award – former recipients include Ronald Reagan, John F. Kennedy, and General Colin Powell. She has also appeared on several national talk shows including Oprah Winfrey, Phil Donahue, Nancy Grace, MSNBC, and Larry King Live. In February 2001 she was honored by being invited to speak to the First Lady and all 50 Governor’s wives and husbands of the United States at the Kennedy Center in Washington. In 1996 she was selected to run the Olympic Torch by the Atlanta/Birmingham Committee for the Olympic Games. She is the youngest person to win the Mervyn H. Sterne Award which is presented annually by the Board of Directors of the United Way of Central Alabama to the individual having the most significant impact on the financial success of a United Way Campaign (presented to her in 1996 for a campaign that raised over 23 million dollars in the Birmingham and fivecounty area surrounding it). In May, 2008, she was chosen as the Citizen of the Year in Vestavia Hills, Alabama.
Allison began her advocacy career as a volunteer working with abused children in 1988 at an Exchange Club Family Skills Center. She was one of the first graduates of United Way of America’s Project Blueprint, a governance training initiative for women and minorities. Allison served as Director of Development for Prescott House (a child advocacy center) and 4 years as Director of Development and Community Relations for Family and Child Services (now Gateway). In 1998 after completing a two-year national speaking tour she relocated her family to Montgomery, Alabama to work for the Children's Trust Fund where she was appointed by the Governor as Deputy Director. This included organizing several special events for the First Lady and General Colin Powell’s Alabama’s Promise event in Birmingham, Alabama.
In 2001 she returned to consulting full-time in her own consulting company BlackBOARD - - specializing in training government, community and faith based organizations in governance, charitable choice, board development, strategic thinking, fund development, leadership, and social marketing. She is known as one of the country’s leading nonprofit turn-around and strategic realignment consultants. Blackboard’s name was sold in 2011 and the firm re-launched under the name Blackfish Strategies.
Allison serves as immediate past Chair of the Alabama Veterinary Medical Foundation and is currently on the Vestavia Hills Parks and Recreation Foundation Board. She has also served as Governance Chair on the Board of Hand in Paw in Birmingham. She continues to advocate on behalf of Alabama’s most underserved children and currently mentors more than 30 severely disturbed adolescents and their families one-on-one. Allison and her husband Jeff live in Vestavia Hills, Alabama with their four rescue dogs. Together they have five children: Lauren, Robin, Anne Campbell, Ross, and Roman. Allison is an avid golfer and selfconfessed nonprofit junkie who loves animals, hiking, swimming, and the arts.