June 28, 2024

Crowning Advocacy: Leveraging Pageantry for Public Policy Impact

By: Frances Floresca

What do you think about when you hear the word “pageantry?” 

You may think of some of the stereotypes, including girls who want “world peace” who wear swimsuits on stage and all look like models. 

But there is far more to pageantry than that. 

I recently competed in a state Miss USA pageant for the first time to show the world that moms can do it all now that the organization allows mothers and married women to compete.

That is how my preparation for Miss Georgia USA as Miss Fort Eisenhower USA started at least, but little did I know that I would find a sash and crown as the best tool to advocate for public policy issues I care about. 

In fact, my title got me into policy meetings I would have struggled to get if I did not have my title. Even when I worked full time for several policy organizations, I still struggled to get meetings.

Most pageant girls have a real platform and mine was primarily focused on school choice and empowering the children of military families. I had meetings with the offices of Georgia elected officials Gov. Brian Kemp, Rep. Rick Allen, and Sen. Jon Ossoff in both Georgia and Washington, D.C. to talk about policy solutions they could advocate for.  

Just recently Sen. Ossoff introduced legislation with one of the solutions I recommended: Keep Military Families with Newborns Together, and while I am sure other people have also recommended it, I am grateful to have had my voice heard on that issue. As someone with a one-year-old and husband who is currently deployed, I loved being able to advocate for that.

With Gov. Kemp and Rep. Allen I was able to talk about how to bring school choice closer to the children of military families as we often do not talk about them enough when it comes to ensuring these children have access to the best education that works for them. 

There is something powerful about having that sash and crown to make a difference, but I remember feeling even more empowered when I went into my interview to talk about the work I have done and what I would do if I became Miss Georgia USA. 

While I did not win Miss Georgia USA, I still feel like a winner! I get to continue advocating for the work I have been doing already not just in Georgia but across the state and country as a freelancer who works in public policy. 

Using my pageant title just gave me a larger platform and bigger voice for these issues to make a difference for others. While public policy may not be the most interesting topic, bringing pageantry into it elevated it to an entirely new and engaging level as I encouraged more people to engage with their elected officials.

While this might be my introduction into pageantry, I am determined to return next year and continue my commitment to serving my community.