Friday, August 4, 2023

Windham USOA Pageant contestant a champion for women's equality

By Ed Pierce

Windham attorney Katie Winchenbach is not afraid to fail, but she is afraid not to try. That sense of self confidence and a champion for women’s equality has led her to become an official contestant in the 2024 United States of America Pageant in October in Augusta.

Katie Winchenbach of Windham will
compete as a contestant in the USOA
2024 Maine State Pageant in Augusta
this October. She is an attorney who
works as Program Director for Ms. JD,
a national nonprofit organization
dedicated to the success of aspiring
and early career women lawyers.
Winchenbach will represent the community as Mrs. Windham in the pageant which is designed to encourage women to strive to achieve their hopes, dreams, goals, and aspirations, while making them feel confident and beautiful inside and out. The pageant’s motto is to empower women, inspire others, and uplift everyone and it focuses on women empowerment, promoting positive self-image and advocating a platform of community service, which allows contestants to rise by lifting others up.

She is a corporate attorney and nonprofit leader who is a passionate advocate for women’s equality and is dedicated to finding ways to inspire and empower women across the United States. Winchenbach currently serves as the Program Director for Ms. JD, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to the success of aspiring and early career women lawyers.

As Program Director, she spearheads impactful events and programs that foster diversity in the legal profession and set young women up for successful legal careers. Winchenbach says she’s a firm believer in the power of collaboration and inclusivity and has brought that energy to her community by volunteering as the Vice-President of The Maine Women’s Conference, a local organization that brings together Maine women to connect with, educate, and inspire each other.

Earning a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Maine, a Juris Doctorate law degree from Quinnipiac University School of Law, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hofstra University, Winchenbach is eager to share her passion and make an even bigger difference in the lives of women as a USOA contestant.

She said that the pageant will challenge her in new ways that she hasn’t experienced previously.

“I'm looking to be able to show up and support my community as the best version of myself,” Winchenbach said. “Upon starting this journey, I was surprised by how much it pushed me outside of my comfort zone and how many opportunities there were for me to grow as a person. Already, I've been able to become more confident in the way I carry myself and in the way I speak publicly. I work as a corporate attorney and a nonprofit program director, so these are skills that are going to help me immensely even once the pageant is over.”

Along with her husband Jared, she moved to Windham about two years ago and was born in Maine and grew up in the small town of Milford, near the University of Maine Orono.

This will be her first time as a pageant contestant.

“I have never done a pageant before,” Winchenbach said. “When the USOA Pageant Director Christie Hines reached out to me to see if I would be interested in competing, I really thought she had the wrong woman. Once I learned how much of the pageant was focused on community involvement and championing causes close to your heart, I knew I had to say yes.”

According to Winchenbach, she believes being a new pageant contestant will help her.

“I think being a first-time contestant is both a strength and a challenge,” she said. “I'm lacking the experience that more seasoned contestants will have, but I am also going into it without the pressure or expectation of winning. My goal is to represent Windham the best that I can, and to learn as much as I can about competing in pageants. The other women competing are truly incredible and I know I can learn so much just from being part of this.”

She said empowering women will be the cause she will champion if she wins the state title.

“I believe in empowering and inspiring women to dream bigger and boldly pursue these dreams. As the Program Director for Ms. JD, a national nonprofit dedicated to the success of aspiring and early-career female attorneys, I am able to impact over 800 women per year,” Winchenbach said. “More locally, I am partnering with the Compassionate Leadership Project to create a one-day conference for Maine’s emerging female leaders. The conference will provide attendees with access to prominent female leaders from Maine, practical training on key leadership skills, and the opportunity to build their networks. The conference will be live streamed, to provide this critical resource to women from all over the State of Maine, and eventually, across the United States.”

Grateful to have the support of her family, friends, and community on her quest for the crown, Winchenbach said when she’s not working or preparing for the pageant, she loves to stay busy, so she doesn't have a lot of downtime.

“When I do get down time, I love being out on the water on my paddleboard,” she said. “My husband got me an inflatable one a couple of years ago and I love it. I try to get out on the Presumpscot River on the weekends, do paddle board yoga in Casco Bay, and every once and a while bring my rescue pup out for a ride. My family and friends have been incredibly supportive of my pageant journey. My husband, Jared, was a big factor in my learning more about the pageant and even being open to talking to Christie about it. He clearly saw something in me that I didn't see in myself. My dad has also been a huge support system for me.”

Another reason that Winchenbach chose to compete in the United States of America Pageant is to honor the memory of her mother.

“My mom competed in a Mrs. pageant when she and my dad were just married,” she said. “She passed away from cancer last November, so this is a really nice way for my family to be able to come together again. They cheered her on over 30 years ago and now they get to cheer me on.”

The USOA Pageant for Maine will be held Oct. 21 and Oct. 22 at The Senator Inn & Spa Augusta and the Augusta Civic Center. <

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