Employee Voices

Empowering People of All Abilities

As part of the Ability ERG, Terry Black draws from his life experiences to champion colleagues with seen and unseen disabilities.



Read time: 4 minutes

There are far more people living with disabilities than many realize. In fact, one in every four adults in the U.S. have a disability, making it the largest minority group in the country.

Recognizing the unique needs of this diverse group, the Ability employee resource group (ERG) empowers McKesson employees to reach their full potential. The ERG brings together colleagues with visible and unseen disabilities, as well as employees caring for loved ones with disabilities.

It’s a mission that resonates with Terry Black.

“Any one of us can become affected by a disability at any time,” he says. “I’ve been blessed to have support and encouragement from family and friends, and I want to give back.”

Terry on a fishing trip with his son.

Terry on a fishing trip with his son.

Terry was born with spina bifida, a condition that affects the development of the spine. At the time, the prognosis was bleak for babies born with this disorder. But thanks to a doctor who was well-versed in the latest treatments, Terry defied the odds.

That doesn’t mean life for Terry has been easy. As a child, he endured numerous surgeries so he could walk with the assistance of crutches, and later with a cane. But the physical challenges weren’t the only hardships he encountered. During his early years at school, he was bullied for being different.

Despite these difficulties, he excelled academically and discovered his aptitude for science. Terry attributes his sense of determination and independence to his parents.

“If there was any way I could learn to do something for myself, they wanted me to figure it out,” he says.

He recalls being 12 years old and teaching himself to ride a bicycle – something he was told he could never do because of his disability. When his parents left for work, he would practice pedaling down the driveway of their home in upstate New York. He hid the bumps and bruises from his falls, only to learn his parents knew what he was doing all along.

“I’m grateful to my parents for giving me the freedom to make my own choices,” Terry says. “They let me succeed or fail on my terms.”

It’s what gave him the confidence to move halfway across the country to attend college in Texas, where he earned degrees in engineering physics and computer science. After advancing his career across multiple industries, he joined McKesson in 2014 to support the company’s data and analytics efforts. It’s here that he’s found a deeper and personal sense of purpose in his work.

In 2019, Terry was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of blood cancer. Shortly after completing chemotherapy treatment, he became part of Ontada – a McKesson business that utilizes real-world data and evidence, clinical education and technology to transform the fight against cancer – as a senior health information scientist. It’s a role that has significant meaning for him as a cancer survivor.

“I’ve learned how important research is to find new treatments and drugs for cancer patients,” he explains. “I’m grateful that I’m in this position and can make a difference for people.”

Terry also makes an impact on the lives of his colleagues as a vocal ally for the disability community. For the past three years, he’s chaired the local chapter of the Ability ERG in The Woodlands, Texas. Being part of Ability gives him the opportunity to meet others across the company who have a disability themselves or are caring for a child, parent or relative with a disability.

“We share our stories and find we have similar struggles,” he says. “It helps to know I’m not alone.”

Terry credits McKesson for creating a culture that values diversity and an environment where employees with disabilities can thrive. He invites his colleagues to take advantage of the support that is available and tells them they don’t need to suffer in silence.

Terry mans a booth at an Ability ERG event.

Terry mans a booth at an Ability ERG event.

“I encourage employees to be honest about what they need,” he says. “I also remind people who want to help someone with a disability that it’s important to ask before assuming what someone wants or needs.”

He’s passionate about helping colleagues succeed personally and professionally through the many events the local Ability chapter offers. Members have access to financial seminars, health and wellness resources, and a robust mentorship program to help employees with disabilities grow their careers at McKesson.

People from all backgrounds can be affected by a disability. That’s why Ability collaborates with others – such as the McKesson Military Resource Group (MMRG) – to highlight issues affecting multiple ERG communities. And they do things like giving back to the community by holding drives for the organization Gift of Life, which encourages employees to be tested and potentially matched with those in need of a bone marrow transplant.

At the local and national level, the Ability ERG leads the company’s recognition of Disability Employment Awareness Month in October. It’s a time to celebrate the achievements of employees with disabilities and educate others about the importance of accessibility and inclusion.

“Knowing how to relate to those with various disabilities requires patience and practice, but it is worth the effort,” Terry says. “People with disabilities are capable and can accomplish amazing things.”