I educate every day: Nancy May puts her skills to the test as San Antonio Humane Society president

Nancy May CEO Humane Society

'I educate every day'

by  Edmond Ortiz

Nancy May puts her skills to test as San Antonio Humane Society president 

 Graduating with an education degree from Texas State University in 1975, Nancy May looked forward to teaching. But she soon came to realize that a career in education was not in the cards for her — not in the traditional sense, anyway.

“It was third, fourth, and fifth grades, open classrooms, 153 kids, four teachers, and no breaks. I decided this isn’t what I wanted to do with the rest of my life,” she recalls of her first teaching assignment.

The career where May would find her calling was banking, and it was there that she could utilize her math skills. A temp agency referred May to an administrative job in wealth management (or the trust department) at Bexar County National Bank in San Antonio.  “I had no idea what a trust department was or anything,” says May, who quickly fell in love with the work. She would eventually move to Broadway National Bank, where she would become a senior vice president. “The math, the finance — you’re educating people on different aspects about their wealth, circumstances, a legal document you’re looking at. You’re always teaching,” she says.

She worked there more than 20 years, retiring in 2009. But about six months into retirement, May wanted to return to work  at least part time. Because of her connections with local philanthropic  foundations and nonprofits, May got a chance to handle donor relations for the San Antonio Humane Society (SAHS). “As my friends say, I’ve gone to the dogs,” she quips.

In 2011, when the organization’s president/CEO departed, the SAHS board of directors pitched the top job to May. She saw herself being only an interim president/CEO, but enjoyed serving in a new outlet through which she could educate the community about animal welfare and empower colleagues. “I’ve always believed nonprofits need business people because we’re a business — a not-for-profit business, but a business.”

SAHS has more than 70 employees and thousands of volunteers. Annually, the organization places more than 5,000 animals, and spays or neuters more than 8,000 animals. May expressed pride in guiding the SAHS as part of San Antonio’s overriding goal  of becoming a no-kill community. “I really felt a need,” she says.  Her own household includes two dogs adopted from the shelter.

On the whole, May sees herself as educating people throughout her otherwise unexpected career moves. “The neat part about education is that I feel that I educate every day. The things I’ve learned, no matter what your degree is in, will take you a long way,” she says.

“The neat part about education is that I feel that I educate every day. The things I’ve learned, no matter what your degree is in, will take you a long way,” — Nancy May.

The San Antonio native graduated from Texas State in three years while also working as a teaching assistant in the math department. “It was such a great experience, like doing pottery classes on Old Main and archery classes at Aquarena Springs while you watch the boats go by,” she adds.

May supports several nonprofits, including Texas State. In the spring, she co-hosted a Bobcat Women’s luncheon in San Antonio. One of her two daughters, Christina Heise, is also an alumna of Texas State, earning a bachelor’s degree in marketing and a master’s degree in education.

“When I go up (to San Marcos), it’s unbelievable, the growth,” May says. “It’s such a high level of quality of students. It’s great to say, ‘hey, that’s my university.’ ”