Friday, December 31, 2010

One last go around....

It may seem like I've had a lot of parties....we like to party.  But here we go, one last time, to say "Good Luck" just before I leave for Las Vegas!

Reasons you should come:
Finally an informal event with NO TICKET.
Therapy is awesome.
Scott Alan is performing. 'nuf said. Just come for that.
Broadway is dark.
You are going to have a cocktail on Monday at 6:00 after work anyway.
You've never cared about Miss America before, but now you want to watch. (Jan 15 9pm EST ABC)
You work at Apple, and since I don't anymore, I miss seeing you.
Appolonia Cruz is going to bring the drag entertainment to the evening. She's a diva.
You just may get to take a picture with someone who becomes Miss America.
You could sell your autograph card on ebay if I win and make back the price of your drink.
We are selling I <3 Miss New York Tshirts to continue fundraising for my Miss America expenses and we need your help.
JoJo is going to be there. My mom, not the 12 year-old pop star. How old is she now?
You are some part of the LGBTQ/A community, and I am fighting with YOU.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Home for the Holidays

I took a great trip home to my family for a few days and had a total vacation in the best sense of the word.  I really wanted to use it as an escape from preparation – of course I made my best attempt to stay on track with that swimsuit thang – but to me, your mental and emotional state and care is equally as important as your physical preparation for Miss America.  For one girl, this could be the last she really sees her family for a year; so with hopes that the one girl is me, I made the most of it.  As a New Yorker, I’m used to the long distance communication with my family; thank goodness for video chatting!   I wish I could bottle up everything that happened in these last few days.  You all get to know me from a pageant or advocacy standpoint, but here is a glimpse into my family life.


I was able to spend such wonderful cuddle time and photo ops with my little nephew Logan, took engagement pictures for my sister Hannah and her fiancĂ©, Joel, got a peek at my brother and his fiancĂ©’s new house (6 houses down from my parents), and of course got the best hugs and support from my sister Sarah as we bonded over sangria-making, along with shopping with mom and hot tub talks with dad.  I was able to visit my grandma in her new home and visit her new friends at the memory care facility as Miss New York, and spent Christmas with my other grandparents and cousins, complete with laughter yoga led by Sarah.  

My family hosted two “Cookies with Claire” parties for me, and wow, I am so blessed.  I was able to see sooo many people – people from high school, church, dance, family friends, Miss Indiana folks, aunts and uncles, people from every facet of my life who have come together in support of this exciting journey.  I am just so lucky, I can’t even explain it…and thankful.

The blizzard only stopped me for a 24-hour delay.  I had a successful standby trip back to Newark (I’m at the airport now) and it will work out perfectly for me to pick up my evening gown from Red Carpet master alterations seamstress wonder woman Debbie! And then it’s home to unpack and get things ready to repack…but this time for Miss America!! Butterflies writing that!!!  Keep you updated in the next few days – only thing I really have scheduled besides working out, errands, last minute shopping (interview shoes – yikes!), dancing, etc is January 3rd at Therapy  at 52nd and 9th Ave from 6:00-9:00 – come have a good luck cocktail!! 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Hetrick-Martin Institute & The Big Apple Circus

Many of you remember the movie “MILK” or perhaps have heard of the Harvey Milk High School in New York City.  I was incredibly fortunate to meet with the executive director of the Institute last week and learn about amazing work that they do in supporting 1500 of NYC’s most vulnerable and at risk youth.  Literally, they are saving lives every day through their unending giving and support, mentally, emotionally, creatively as well as their resources available not limited to health and wellness, HIV medical care, education, shelter, clothing, food, and more.  Beneath the Hetrick-Martin Institute, the Harvey Milk High School is only structured for 100 students.  This may seem and is small, especially in comparison to the 1.1 million kids in New York City public schools (The Milk School is a public transfer school), however, work in this intimate environment is exponentially more effective.  The school doubles as a community center after hours and is available through age 24, with GED programs available as well.  The kids who (mostly voluntarily) transfer to the Harvey Milk School are usually overage and undereducated for a variety of reasons, making their education process and needs even more unique.  I cannot wait to become more involved – they have photography classes as a main outlet of creativity and expression, and a class on social media – hello!  

In a complete shift (I love this about my job as Miss New York), just before the Christmas holiday, I went to the Big Apple Circus where I was a guest ringmaster!  It was so awesome – the Kenyan acrobats, jugglers and clowns, music, humor, miniature horses, crazy handstand man, and Mongolian bendy girls – all of it!  I had never been to the circus before (except Cirque du Soleil which is a little different) so it was just a blast.  Alison was able to come with me and wave from the audience as well.  They handed me the mic and said I could say anything I wanted, so of course I asked everyone to pull out their phones and vote for Miss America! What a great way to end my appearances in 2010.

Alison and I also braved the cold for a few holiday photo attempts at Lincoln Center in our scarves.  Mine kind of looks like a neck brace, but I promise, it’s ok.  Hahaha J Happy Holidays from Alison and Claire, as well as the entire board of the Miss New York Organization!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

I [heart] Miss New York Tshirts!

What will you be wearing in Las Vegas  
at your at-home viewing party for 

Miss America LIVE! on ABC January 15th 9-11pm EST

How about an I [heart] Miss NY Tshirt?  Tshirts are $20.00 for adult sizes and $15.00 for kids.

Order your shirt - or a group order - by sending an email HERE

Be sure to include
Size, Quantity, Purple or Pride Edition (Rainbow)

We'll get a Google Checkout link right to you so that you can pay online (s/h added).

Thank you for your support!!


If you are available tomorrow, December 20, you should spend the evening listening to these stories. Friends from college have put together a play of stories about bullying.

We have anonymously collected stories from across the NYC area: stories about being the victim of bullying, those who perpetuate it, witness it, are taking steps to stop it, and everything in between. Collected stories have been turned into monologues and pieced together for a night of live, honest theatre in an new, original play we're calling "Let's Talk About Bullying". Through our efforts, we can hear stories that let us know IT GETS BETTER.

The play will be performed on:
Monday, December 20th @ 7:30pm
45th Street Theatre (between 8th and 9th)

Suggested donation of $5
ALL proceeds will go directly to PFLAG NYC - Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. 

You can visit to reserve a ticket or email

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

So many blogs...

I've been blogging my little fingers off, so to ease your viewing of these many exciting posts, I'll put up some shortcuts!

Miss America Send Off Party

I am truly so blessed.  Last Sunday, Wanda and Amanda Mason (Miss Greater Gotham) threw me such a beautiful send off party at the penthouse of the Olivia, overlooking all of Manhattan.  The room was dripping in purple, my favorite color, from the table clothes, to the cake, to the floral arrangements and the gerber daisies laced throughout the gorgeous food.  Many Miss New York sisters from 09-10 and new girls for 2011 were there along with Miss New York board members and local committees, my friends from a variety of places: the Upper East Side/Ball State transplants, Indiana, roommates, boyfriend and one more - my mom.  She flew in for the party and to help me shop for my interview dress.  Tradition, in a send off, would be to share your wardrobe.  However, at the time, I did not have any of my wardrobe actually in my hands.  But instead, I shared some hints of my best description, played my awesome talent song and shared my It Gets Better video for the first time.  It was amazing to see the response from people.

- < - Now, however, I just received my talent outfit, finished, I bought my interview dress in the next few days, my evening gown arrived this week!!! just have to take it to alterations where I'll pick up the rest of my wardrobe - > -

I felt so loved and, like I said, blessed to have the support of you all.  One of my favorite pictures is all the girls around the cake.  You're all going to Miss America with me, and I hope you know that.  There is a part of each of you that has inspired, motivated, and changed me.  I can't wait to hang my banner in my hotel room in Vegas and be reminded of you all.

And my iPhoto is working again, so revisit some of the previous blogs for photos!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Empire State Pride Agenda VIDEO

Back in October, I received the Douglas Jones Leadership Award from the Empire State Pride Agenda.  Blog and Pics HERE.  Well, they just released the video of my acceptance speech as well as the other speeches by Ross Levi, Executive Director of the Pride Agenda, Governor David Paterson, Senator Chuck Schumer and more.

This was such an incredible evening and a monumental moment for me, personally.  I'm so proud and honored to share it with you.

A week of inspiration from New York's youth

Monday I went to Hunter HS in Manhattan at the invitation of Dan SanGermano whom I met at a Prop 8 celebration with Broadway Impact a few months ago. After a small lunch with the members of the Gay/Straight Alliance over great conversation about media impact on society, depiction of the gay community and bullying, ok AND Glee, I spoke to three auditoriums full of respectful, interested and challenging students. In preparation for my visit, they had prepared some tough questions! It was so cool to see the kids ask such pertinent and thought-provoking questions, some just so that others may hear the answers. I was often that kid. Because of my love for discussion, I often play devil's advocate just to examine all sides of the issue at hand. That's what these kids really did.

Then Wednesday, I went to Long Island to Jericho Middle Schools where the school climate truly is changing, based on the guidance of their teachers, principal and superintendent, all of whom were present and in addition, parents from the PTA as well. It seems like every time I go to a school I say "This is the best experience I have had." I don't know if anything will top ACCION Academy from this spring, but wow Jericho is fighting for the top spot!! Their school motto is about reaching your personal best, and all leadership challenge the students to remember that your personal best is influenced and enriched by the acceptance of diversity in your surroundings. Without knowing what their missions or mottos were or their current focuses, I directly overlapped with the curriculum they are concentrating on in the school: be respectful and accepting, not just tolerant of others and their unique qualities; be the best you; be a leader; don't be a bystander - see something, say something. At this middle school, they have an elective for 7th and 8th graders entitled "Seedlings." It is a diversity elective themed in privilege - privilege of being born white, male, Christian, straight, and more. I just think it is fascinating to see a school with an elective like this; it shows the initiative of the teachers to create that kind of environment. You can read Principal Gately's blog HERE.

Friday rounded out the week again on Long Island, this time at the Holocaust Museum. I sat on a panel including assemblypersons, a judge, Holocaust survivors and a youth representative to talk about bullying. I was the eighth and final person to speak on the panel, and I found it very interesting and compelling that in discussing bullying as a broad topic, six of the speakers addresses bullying in the current state of our society as a direct result of sexual orientation and gender identity. They did not know my platform; I had not yet opened that subject. It just goes to show that this fight is not one for special group or minority only, but the message of respect, acceptance and equality is current and universal, and obviously necessary to spread in this environment.

And on top of all of these experiences, Hannah Kiefer set up a tough interview at UBS Financial, all of these videos were released - ItGetsBetter, Miss America voting, and ESPA acceptance speech all in other blogs - AND my evening gown arrived from Regalia!!! What a cool, cool week.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

It Gets Better. but this time, it's my video.

In previous blogs, I have shared multiple "It Gets Better" videos that have been inspirational to me. Many people have asked if I had made a video. Well I have. But it's more than me. With celebration, excitement and honor, I represent a "first" in the Miss America Organzation. But with respect and admiration for my peers in the MAO Class of 2011, I wanted to share this project with the many other women across the United States who believe in this universal message of equality, dignity and respect as we, together, take a stand against bullying.

I received so many emails of support but with such busy schedules as state titleholders, there were many girls unable to send a video. However, I want to recognize their support (and the door is always open to add to the video!).

Miss Arkansas Alyse Eady
Miss California Arianna Afsar
Miss Florida Jaclyn Raulerson
Miss Georgia Christina McCauley
Miss Iowa Pauli Mayfield
Miss Louisiana Kelsi Crain
Miss Michigan Katie LaRoche
Miss Puerto Rico Mariselle Morales
Miss Rhode Island Deborah Saint-Vil
Miss Tennessee Nicole Jordan
Miss Vermont Caroline Bright
Miss Virginia Caitlin Uze

In the video:
Miss District of Columbia Stephanie Williams
Miss Illinois Whitney Thorpe-Klinsky
Miss Indiana Gabrielle Reed
Miss Nevada Cris Crotz
Miss New Hampshire Krystal Muccioli
Miss Oklahoma Emoly West
Miss Wisconsin Kimberly Sawyer
Miss Wyoming Alicia Grove

You, too, can take the pledge to stop bullying and spread a message of hope that "It Gets Better."
Click here to take the pledge.

My best attempt at a quick 'week in review'

Last week I was in Atlanta where I had my talent costume made by Jody Pelletier who is seriously a rockstar. When I showed up in the morning, she had 2 talent costumes made from the ideas we had thrown around and by the time I came back at 10:30pm, she had a new one, the real one, made! In my adventures with Faith in Atlanta, I also visited our dental sponsor, Dr. Goldstein, for some teeth contouring and whitening and a makeup lesson with Nyssa at the TV station - what special treatment for Miss NY!

We also went to Kennesaw State University where I spoke to their Pride Alliance at a reception they had thrown just for me. The back story: Mary Frances had written me after I won Miss NY having read my article in The Advocate. She told me that she had competed in pageants in Georgia and was never able to stand up for equality - stand up for herself, as a lesbian. After back and forth, meaningful conversation, it was so incredible to actually meet her in person and bring this new friendship full circle. She threw a beautiful reception for me, attended by the Chief Diversity Officer of the University, dean, professors and many students who all gave up their time during finals. It was such a wonderful experience to see the broad reach and influence that social media and the internet can provide. As always, a great trip to the Ossmanns. :)

Upon my return to NYC on Fridy, I went to Toys for Tots with Kenny Mack, Wanda and Amanda Mason (Miss Greater Gotham) and 500 fabulous, attractive and well-dressed men at Chelsea Piers! It was a blast, full of holiday cheer and a huuuuge mountain of gifts. Of course, a highlight of my night was running into Thomas Roberts as well as seeing Andy Cohen again and meeting Lance Bass. Mr. Brazil was alright too. Hehe great evening! And I was grateful to get a few minutes on stage to talk about Miss America and my platform.


Friday, December 3, 2010


For the past few years, what has stopped the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is the fear that openly gay military service members will disrupt unity cohesion and combat operations.  After the order of multiple surveys to anticipate the real response of our service, 70% of current military personnel (under age 30) do not think that gays being allowed to serve openly in the military (the repeal of DADT) would have a negative effect.  As for the general population, Pew Research Center said 58% of Americans favor allowing homosexuals to serve openly in the military, with 27 percent opposed.

DADT is wrong and immoral because it forces gays to lie – hiding their sexual orientation -- in order to serve their country. If someone is willing to die for our country, they should be able to live confidently and freely as they truly are. 

Eric Alva – who risked life and limb for his country but was forced to hide his identity as a gay man – put it best the other day: "My fellow troops have spoken. Generals have spoken... The American people have spoken. From this point forward, any delay is nothing more than discrimination and partisan politics."

More than 14,000 gay service members have been discharged since 1994, including 428 last year.  It needs to stop.  And you can help.  Contact your senator TODAY (CLICK HERE) as the vote is slated for Tuesday morning during the lame duck session.  

Thursday, December 2, 2010

It Gets Better Play

My friends are writing a play. Share your story.


We are anonymously collecting stories from across the NYC area: stories about being the victim of bullying, how you may have perpetuated it, witnessed  it,  are taking steps to stop it, and everything in between. We want to hear YOUR stories. Collected stories will be turned into monologues and pieced together for a night of live, honest theatre in an new, original play we're calling "Let's Talk About Bullying". Donations made from the play will be donated to a TBD organization that works with troubled and bullied teenagers. 

We encourage everyone to submit your experiences- all replies will be ANONYMOUS so identities are protected. We're in this together. Let's end the vicious trend of teenage bullying. Through our efforts, we can hear stories that let us know IT GETS BETTER.

We're three  NYC theatre artists: Actor Josh Jeffers, Actor/Activist Jacyln Hennell and Playwright Andrew Kramer, who believe in changing minds through the power of live theatre.

Join us in telling these stories. 

To share your story: Visit Jaclyn's blog by CLICKING HERE  and follow the directions on her page by providing a comment with your story.   (remember, NO name necessary and be SURE TO CHOOSE ANONYMOUS so comments are anonymously submitted) with your age, gender, and location and most importantly, your story. All stories will be read and formatted into stage monologues for our original play, LET'S TALK ABOUT BULLYING, to be performed in Late December in NYC. DUE TO TIME CONSTRAINTS, STORIES ACCEPTED UNTIL FRIDAY DEC. 3RD @ 5:00pm.