All About Love
Terri Hale’s support for LGBTQ individuals started as a child whose two best friends were gay, even if she didn’t know it at the time. She learned to love them as people first, which helped to form her inclusive mindset as an adult.
As her career flourished at Principal Financial Group, Hale’s circle of friends included more people of different sexual orientations. In 2010, a year after Iowa’s marriage equality ruling, Hale and her husband decided to attend a One Iowa gala.
The ruling was still controversial, even a year later, with opposition expressed in letters to the editors of Iowa newspapers. Hale went into the event expecting a backlash from the LGBTQ community, presuming that they would fight anger with anger.
But what she found was happiness. It wasn’t about hate, but love.
“They didn’t need to stoop to that level,” Hale says. “They focused on how grateful they were to legally marry the people that they loved.”
Hale, 64, was struck by her experience. She confided to a gay co-worker that she wanted to do something to help the community. She considered writing a letter to the editor herself, but her friend had other ideas.
“My friend said they needed straight allies like me,” Hale says. “They needed my voice. They needed me to speak up because others who don’t understand the LGBTQ community might listen to me.”
She attended a meeting for Principal’s LGBTQ+ employee resource group, which fostered discussions of inclusion and diversity. Through that group, Hale had a hand in creating a number of projects, including Principal’s “I’m An Ally” campaign, an Emmy award-winning “It Gets Better” film and a diversity forum called “It’s OK to Ask.” For her dedication, she was named Principal’s 2014 Impact Player of the Year.
Hale retired from Principal in 2017, but has continued her advocacy. She serves in various capacities for One Iowa and mentors LGBTQ individuals in the community.
“Terri is a legend within our Principal walls, and as you might notice, that is spilling over into the full Des Moines community,” says Heather Schott, assistant director of diversity and inclusion at Principal. “As she retired from Principal, she has taken on a visible role in the fight for LGBTQ equality.”
Perhaps what spurs Hale the most in her activism is the ability to talk about these issues. She encourages anyone who doesn’t understand LGBTQ issues to ask questions. She’s more than willing
After all, she says, her job as an ally is to educate people. “I have people who ask me why I support the LGBTQ community,” Hale says. “That opens up conversations, and they can admit they don’t understand. That’s an important part of being an ally.”
Legacy of Service:
Helped lead a diversity initiative at Des Moines-based Principal Financial Group, her former employer, and earned 2014 Impact Player of the Year award from the company.
Works as vice president of the Hale Group, an advocacy, consulting and communications firm focused on aging and care-giving issues.
Serves on the One Iowa board of directors and several committees.
Chairs planning committee for One Iowa’s LGBTQ Senior Summit.
Mentors several LGBTQ individuals, focusing on developing skills to help them advance their careers.