Social Justice Game Changer: Monica May

Monica May
by Dan Savage

Name: Monica May

Game Honored: Orlando Magic vs. Detroit Pistons (2/21/2021)

Background: Monica May is a radio and television veteran, community affairs expert, and founder of Let’s Spill the Tea, a nonprofit organization supporting parent to teen relationships. Her latest pivot is principle consultant with Monica May Communications. In addition to keynote speaking, political moderation, and corporate consulting, May facilitates workshops on an array of topics including community relations programming, college and career readiness, and creating transparent family relationships. She also chairs the Black Advisory Committee at Valencia College and co-chairs Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings’ MLK Commission.

Within the span of her career, May’s philanthropic reach has generated a total of $5.2 million in nontraditional revenue using her unique approach to community engagement. Since beginning her career at the helm of Urban One founder, Cathy Hughes, and reaching a pinnacle with the beloved, Tom Joyner, May has been affectionately known as, "the hardest working woman in radio."

May has been named the Urban Radio Programmer of the Year, a Billboard’s Top Programmer Nominee, and recently Orlando Magazine’s “Best of List” for Community Leader of the Year. She’s also received a Gracie Award for "Pulse Nightclub" Coverage and a Central Florida Association of Black Journalists Lifetime Achievement Award.

“My focus has been to give back in any way possible,” May said.

Let’s Spill the Tea: Her flagship workshop, Let’s Spill the Tea came to life after a heart-to-heart with her daughter and other young women who felt guarded when having conversations with their mothers. It's designed to open the conversation while also providing licensed mental health professionals for additional support.

Her vision is that through workshops, retreats, and support of licensed professionals, Let’s Spill the Tea will create a community for parents, teens, and young adults to have an open and ongoing dialogue to foster healthy relationships and breakthrough communication barriers.

Let’s Spill the Tea serves parents as well as teens and young adult women ages 14-21. It recognizes those years as prime ones for young women to engage in at-risk behaviors such as: dating violence, peer pressure, and drug and alcohol abuse. Let’s Spill the Tea helps families navigate this period of development with relevant information presented in a safe, non-judgmental environment.

To expand its reach, she co-authored, Let’s Spill the Tea: A 21-Day Mother Daughter Journal, with her daughter, Monique.

“It starts at home and to brighten that connection between mothers and daughters is something I’ve been trying to help guide for the longest time,” May said. “That’s what I spend a lot of my time doing. Workshops on how to create the best symmetry and line of communication between a mother and her daughter.”

Working with the Magic: Each Wednesday throughout the month of February and in celebration of Black History Month, the Magic have hosted a series of virtual town halls that have focused on topics such as diversity, equity, inclusion, and policy reform.

May worked hand-in-hand with the Magic to help tip off the first of their Walk With Us Town Hall series that included Magic CEO Alex Martins, Head Coach Steve Clifford, guard Michael Carter-Williams and Chief Diversity Officer Esu Ma'at as many of the team’s season ticket holders, staff, partners, community members, and fans virtually attended.

“One thing that I love about the Magic is that they have always, since I’ve been here, (along with) their players, been involved in community projects,” May said.

Clifford on May: “First of all, it was privilege a to be involved in that panel with her as really the leader," Clifford said. "She’s been involved in this work, in this city for a long time. It’s a great way to honor her and all the work that she’s done.”

Game Changers Program: “I’m just so proud of coach Steve picking up that baton, really broadening it, and making himself a part of this community,” May said. “It’s so important. It’s good to see the Magic out (in the community) and it’s great to have Coach Steve doing his thing. I’m very proud of where the Magic are right now with their community giving.”

About the Program: As part of the Magic and Clifford’s continuing efforts toward social justice reform, he created the Social Justice Game Changer program to honor one local leader who has made a difference in the realm of social justice issues. A cause close to his heart, Clifford is extremely active in programs that support equality and justice for all people in the Central Florida community.

Through this program, Clifford looks to put the spotlight on those continuously doing the hard work, day in and day out, fighting for sustainable change. As part of his program, one person is selected and honored each game. The honorees are given tickets, provided by Clifford, to the game and featured in-arena on the Magic Vision screen at center court.

“The purpose is to honor and to celebrate so many of the people in the Orlando community who are fighting for change and who commit their lives to making Orlando a better place,” Clifford said. “It’s just a way to celebrate them, what they stand for, and what they do for our community.”

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