Pride Month 2022: Meet Tera May

LGBTQIA+ Pride Month is celebrated each June to honor the Stonewall riots in June 1969 in Manhattan, which helped spark the modern gay rights movement.  This month, we are proud to share the story of Tera May, Senior Manager, Talent Acquisition Operations.

For as long as she can remember, Tera has been passionate about connecting with, and helping people.

“When I was four years old, I told my mom that I wanted to be a nun when I grew up because I wanted to help others and make people happy,” Tera recalled.

Flash forward to today, and she has built an entire career around supporting others and making a difference in their lives. Her personal journey has played a huge part in that.

Tera grew up in Iowa in a very traditional, Cuban, Catholic household.

“I wasn’t exposed to many individuals who were part of the LGBTQIA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex and Asexual) community until I entered college. And although I came out early in college to my family, friends and classmates, a big part of me remained hidden early on in my career,” she explained.

Tera and her wife Martha on their wedding day.

Tera’s first professional job was at a company that was particularly conservative. “I enjoyed the work; it allowed me to stretch and grow professionally.  The culture however, wasn’t very welcoming or accepting of differences. The innuendos and comments were subtle and discomforting to people who were ‘different,’ so much so, I didn’t feel secure revealing my full self.”

While her colleagues at work shared stories about their weekends with their significant others, Tera remained quiet.  When the company held events where families were encouraged to attend, Tera would find reasons not to go. “Connecting with people is so important to me and I’m always the first to raise my hand to get involved,” she said. “So it was very strange to be in this place where I had to consciously make the decision to omit information from others, and not participate like I normally would.  I would often overthink what I was going to say so I didn’t slip and mention my girlfriend at the time. I didn’t feel safe, so I chose to leave.”

When Tera considered her next position she was very focused on finding a place where she didn’t have to hide any aspects or her life. She landed a job as the Graduate Assistant for Diversity Recruiting in the Admissions at her alma mater, and led the development and implementation of their diversity recruitment strategy. According to Tera, that was the role that paved the way for her career.

“That role gave me a platform to be a resource for other students and to help create a safe space for them. I made a promise to myself after that first work experience that I would never hide again and to always be forthcoming about who I am.”

Tera continued, “And it became imperative to me that I help others do the same.”

Since then, Tera has held a number of roles in which she’s meaningfully contributed to the DEI efforts of the companies that she worked for, and has received her Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Certification through Cornell University. Her transparency in both the workplace and on social media has resulted in people she’s never met seeking her out for advice on their careers and living authentically.

“I love leading and learning, and often use the hashtag #AlwaysRecruiting, because I genuinely enjoy helping others find their dream job and culture fit – which is why I’ve stayed in the Talent Acquisition space for the last 14+ years. I’ve learned a lot from other people and I have tried to embrace everybody’s stories and support in any way I can,” she explained.

Which is part of why Pride Month is so important to Tera.

“Pride month is about magnifying love for all people. Regardless of how any of us identify, we should be aware of the role we can each play as an ally in supporting your LGBTQIA+ teammates, customers, friends, and family members.”

Tera continued, “Pride Month also means celebrating the fact that I can live my life authentically, out loud, and in full color with my wife and 17-year-old daughter. My wife and I were married on the first day of pride month – June 1 – in 2018, overlooking the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. So, for me, Pride Month is all about inspiring others to be their true selves and creating safe spaces living free of fear.”

And when it comes to Pride at Atlas, Tera is encouraged by what she’s seen in the seven months she’s been with the Company.

“Atlas takes inclusion, innovation and improvement seriously. The Company recognizes there’s work to be done from a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) perspective and is committed to evolving because we want to be better. Our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), such as the Women’s Network and the Veterans Network, honor different dimensions of diversity.”

“As a half Cuban, part Czech, queer-identifying, millennial female, I have a rich passion for creating inclusive climates and inspiring people to be true to who they are.  I thrive on helping others find their voice, find purpose and dream bigger than they ever imagined. I am excited to continuing to do exactly that here at Atlas.”