Last week, the Miss DC Organization organized a trip for the Top 12 of Miss America and friends of Miss DC to travel to and around Washington, D.C., in style of course. I left for the trip straight from the pageant in the afternoon and arrived in DC in time to catch the end of our dinner at Teri Galvez' house (Miss DC Exec Dir) for a chance to see all the girls and catch up! Monday we hit the ground running with meetings with our national platform organizations, so I went to PFLAG for a one on one meeting with Jody Huckaby (PFLAG National Exec Dir) followed by lunch with the entire staff. We had such a great meeting talking about new corporations coming on board with Straight for Equality and opportunities for me to work with them in the future beyond Miss NY.
After our meetings we went make to our host homes to get ready for the party at the Embassy of Croatia in honor of Teresa Scanlan, Miss America 2011 who is of Croatian descent. It was the first time that a lot of us got to see Teresa and really hang out all together again as a group, just reaffirming how awesome our class is. We had a wonderful party, lots of great photo ops thanks to Tom's awesome step and repeat :) and then afterwards we all went out to catch up in our normal, non-pageant lives!
Day two was at the Capitol as we arrived in the morning for a tour, stepping on the floor (no pics sorry) and in Speaker Boehner's office as well as the balcony with amazing views of DC. We had time to explore the Capitol to meet our senators - Sen. Gillibrand wasn't available and Sen. Schumer was speaking on the floor. Great lunch in the Senate dining room hosted by Sen. Strauss who spent the lunch hour talking about equality in a different way. He spoke of the inequality in the federal government that the District of Columbia has in representation and voting, along with Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Guam, etc.
Finished at the Capitol, we went to the Newseum to take photos with our home state newspapers in hopes they would publish our photos--we'll see Daily News. Then a quick change into pink dresses for the Cherry Blossom photoshoot. We got such great photos from our shoot - some definite framers!!
Continuum the marathon day, we went back to be primped and fed courtesy of Lisa Spies, W Salon and Anna Castillo, makeup artist. They were all sooo wonderful and made us up to be some sort of beautiful! Tuesday night was the Miss District of Columbia fundraiser at the Capitol Hill Club, again featuring Teresa with whom we actually got to spend a little more time. She is doing very well - full of what I'm convinced is an eternal energy and positivity. I had some really incredible conversations with people about my platform and the feeling in the DC area about it. Also I met people from our armed forces who shared their experiences and opinions on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" - a fascinating (and supportive of the repeal) insight.
Day three was sight-seeing for most, but I had the opportunity to go the Human Rights Campaign national offices to meet with Marty Rouse, the national field officer. Remember the talked-about Barbara Bush for marriage equality video? Well I got to film my own "New Yorker for Marriage Equality" video that will be released soon. So cool to join the support team of people like Barbara, Sens. Gillibrand and Schumer, Whoopi Goldberg, Cynthia Nixon, Julianne Moore, and so many more. I spent some time speaking with the interns and field staff and have received a lot of positive feedback already. What a great way to start the day?!
I jumped in a cab to the river for our boat tour hosted by Spirit Cruises and Kate Michael, former Miss DC, also known as K Street Kate. Good time just to relax with the girls before the night's festivities.
Now this was something I never thought I'd do, on many levels...I'll just say it. I sang the National Anthem at the National Republican Congressional Committee gala in their celebration of reclaiming the majority. Ok don't worry, I didn't song alone, but I was awkwardly close to a microphone. Out of 12 Miss States, luckily we had 5 singers to out-sing the 7 of us who are dancers :) It was definitely a very exciting and unique experience. Then we met Dick Cheney. (No, not Dick Cheney in the center of this photo...Miss Louisiana Kelsi Crain who was sick as a dog the entire trip and couldn't come til the last night :( )
Night's not over! We went to one last cocktail party at Rivers at The Watergate and then back to Teri's to unwind with a pizza party--the best pizza I have EVER had. (sorry NY) HUGE THANKS go to Teri Galvez and Trisha Morrin, exec dir and president of the Miss DC Organization, for their extreme time and energy in putting this trip together, Valerie Clemens from Miss Maine who organized, facilitated and photographed each day, to all of the Miss DC volunteers and hosts, many of whom I rode with or stayed with, and of course to my Miss America sisters for making our reunion just so amazing!! Yay DC!! Til next time in NY - I'll miss you all.