Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Korean Women's International Network Mentoring Event

Last Sunday, I attended a mentoring event hosted by the Korean Women's International Network (KOWIN) at the Korean Ambassador’s residence in DC.

Arriving at the Korean Embassy complex to participate in the Women's Mentoring event hosted by the Korean Women's International Network.

KOWIN was established in 2001 as the Government of the Republic of Korea launched a new Ministry of Gender Equality and Family with the aim of planning public policy for the benefit of women, promoting their social status and rights and developing human resources among women.

 Miss Teen Korea International, Annette Lee, and Miss Teen International, Juliana McKee, greeting participants in the women's mentoring event sponsored by the Korean Women's International Network at the Korean Embassy.

Annette Lee, Miss Teen Korea International, and Juliana McKee, Miss Teen International

At the event, Annette Lee, Miss Teen Korea International, who so kindly invited me to attend, and I greeted mentors and mentees. The attendees ranged from students and young adults to established “experts” in various fields.

Posing with Korean Ambassador Han, his wife, and some of the other participants at the Korean Women's International Network event at the Korean Embassy.

My Mother, Juliana Brown McKee, with some of the women who participated in the women's mentoring event hosted by the Korean Women's International Organization at the Korean Embassy.

The keynote speaker, Dr. Sue Terry, a visiting Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations with expertise in Korean affairs – a very important expertise to have at this moment in international affairs – gave an inspirational speech about creating your own opportunities and the power that women have today to create their own success.

Juliana McKee, Miss Teen International, with the press secretary of a senior member of the U.S. Congress who was on hand to participate in the women's mentoring event hosted by the Korean Women's International Organization at the Korean Embassy.

Juliana McKee

Monday, November 29, 2010

Attending the Adoption Council Gala

My sister queen Shannon Devine, Mrs. International 2010, invited me and a guest (my mom) as well as our other sister queen, Ashley, and her boyfriend Sebastian, to the 30th anniversary gala for the National Council for Adoption. It was themed “Bow Tie and Pearls”. Hosted at the one of the finest hotels in DC, the Willard, the event was absolutely first class.

My Mother accompanied me to the Adoption Council Gala. We had a great time!

Miss International Ashley Smith's fiance Sebastian accompanied her to the event.

The room was elegantly decorated, and featured a string quartet playing in the background. At each of the seats were beautifully wrapped favors consisting of either 14kt gold and cultured pearl earrings or a white bow tie set (depending if you were a male or female guest). Gorgeous fresh hydrangea and white rose bouquets adorned the tables.

Mrs. Internationl Shannon Devine and Miss Teen International Juliana McKee

There were some wonderful patrons that spoke. Mrs. International, a spokesperson for the organization, was one of the first speakers in the program. While listening to Shannon give her speech, it became apparent to both my mother and I why she won the title of Mrs. International – she is a true inspiration!!

Shannon also modeled the beautiful Tiffany and Company cultured pearl necklace and picked the winners of the raffle items including the fabulous necklace. She looked awesome in her custom Sherri Hill black gown, supplied by none other than Joey Rutherford of The Competitive Image.

A high light was the excitement generated when Shannon’s husband came back to the table after disappearing, announcing that they had won the “African Safari” auction item- wow!! Shannon was speechless!!! How exciting – Mrs. International is traveling to Africa!

Next, we met with and took photos with Mary Landrieu, the US Senator from Louisiana. She is a tireless advocate for adoption. We met some really great people that all had their own stories about adoption – some were adopted and some had adopted children of their own.

Miss Teen International, Juliana McKee, with U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu

There was only one thing missing that evening – little Halle Grace, or “Miss Magic” as she is better known in pageant circles. She is a real life adoption fairy tale come true- Happy 3rd birthday, Halle Grace!!!

Juliana McKee

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Bow Ties & Pearls Gala

As you all know, Shannon, Mrs. International, does a lot of work spreading awareness about adoption. She is a spokesperson for the National Counsel for Adoption and as such was invited to attend their 30th Anniversary Bow Ties & Pearls Gala in Washington, DC. Lucky for me, she extended an invitation to my boyfriend Sebastien & I as well. We were both excited to dress up all fancy & support this wonderful organization.

I got to meet a lot of important people at this gala! Everyone was so welcoming and open in sharing their stories of how they are connected to the cause – whether they are adopted or have adopted a child of their own. It was really touching to be in a room where everyone felt so much passion for adoption and the wonderful things it can do for a child! Thank you again, Shannon for inviting us!

Ashley Smith

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Interview with The Pageant Guy

Recently I was invited to do a fun & silly video interview for a new pageant blog. The blog is a new venture for my friend Will. Will is basically changing the face of Texas pageants with his innovative ideas and just overall love of the pageant world! He is a wonderful pageant director & friend, & even takes my mom along as his “date” to all the pageant happenings in Texas  Here is a link to the blog & my video! Enjoy!


Ashley Smith

Monday, November 22, 2010

Give the Gift of Health to the Women You Love Most

With the Holidays Approaching...give the Gift of Health to the women you love most....

The women in my life are irreplaceable. Go Red For Women can help you and the ones you love turn small personal choices into life-saving actions! My purpose for this blog post is to not only challenge you but for YOU to challenge the women you love the most! Here is your challenge... #1: choose to live #2: choose to get active #3: choose to get the facts at www.GoRedForWomen.org.

As Mrs. International I am honored to have the opportunity and Voice to help in the fight against the #1 killer in women, heart disease. It's heart breaking that heart disease takes a woman's life EVERY single minute! In the time it takes me to type this entry, how many mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, best friends will no longer be with us because heart disease takes their life? There are many women in my life who mean the world to me and immediately come to mind when I hear the statistic " 1 in 3 woman will be affected by heart disease"...my mom, my sister, my step-mother...that's 3 and the thoughts of losing one...I don't want to even think about it, so join me and let's take action today!

I want to remind everyone about heart attack symptoms, specifically in women...

I have heard that it is common to completely miss or disregard heart attack symptoms at the initial stages because symptoms show up differently in women than in men. Immediate intervention/action can mean life or death, therefore, ALL women should be aware of the warning signs. Read and re-read these and share them I challenge you to share these warning signs with 5 of your girlfriends today! Ladies, we don't have minutes to spare!

Most heart attacks start slowly with mild pain or discomfort. Symptoms can include:

*Shortness of breath may occur with or without chest discomfort.
*Nausea and light-headedness
*Flu-like symptoms, including chills and cold sweats
*Heart palpitations
*Chest discomfort, pain, tightness or pressure in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back
*Discomfort in other areas, including pain or discomfort in: one or both arms (especially the left arm), the back, between the shoulder blades, neck, jaw or stomach
*Heartburn or indigestion
*Extreme fatigue

I also want to take this opportunity to publicly thank Simone McDowell, Marketing and Communications Director for the Greater Charlotte American Heart Association office who has welcomed me in so many ways and continues to involve me in the many events to fight the #1 killer of women!

Ladies, let's encourage and support one another. So many people depend on YOU and love YOU! After all, we have one life to live!

Have a beautiful and blessed holiday season!

Until next post, remain blessed!


Sunday, November 21, 2010

NCFA Bow Tie & Pearls Gala

"Buildings may give way to other construction. Laws can be amended or overturned. All are an essential part of the program. But in the end, adoption is about people who help people who love one another."

Ruby Lee Piester, Founder, National Council For Adoption (NCFA)

Jason & Shannon Devine, parents through the miracle of adoption

Jason & I had the pleasure of serving on the host committee for NCFA's 30th Anniversary Bow Tie & Pearls Gala in Washington, DC on November 18th just one day before Halle-Grace’s 3rd birthday! As we checked into the beautiful Willard Hotel we were both impressed by the elegance and royalty of the Willard. Making its home on Pennsylvania Avenue, the location is perfect for a tour around the Capitol and a glimpse of the beautiful city.

The evening was nothing short of Magical. We had the opportunity to meet Senators, Congressional leaders, NCFA Board Members and other Adoption Advocates whose friendliness was second, only to their passion for adoption.

The 30th Anniversary Gala was a perfect blend of celebration with a call to action. It was a time to celebrate NCFA legacy of promoting a culture of adoption through education, research, and legislative action over the last 3 decades, and to inspire adoption advocates across the world to work harder as we move forward in hopes of continuing to support the positive option of adoption and the life-changing impact it has on the lives of so many vulnerable children in the US and across the world.

Mrs. International, Shannon Devine, NCFA National Adoption Spokesperson introduces the 30th Anniversary Tribute

The night was incredibly moving, motivating and emotional. I found myself constantly reflecting on our adoption story and how the very thing that we were all celebrating IS the reason why Jason & I have the honor and privilege of being "mommy and daddy" to the most amazing little girl in the world. The evening was also successful in raising funds to continue NCFA's advocacy of adoptions worldwide. Throughout the evening, we heard numerous, firsthand accounts of the many lives forever touched by the Miracle of Adoption.  

Drawing for the TIFFANY & CO. Pearl Necklace, Lucien Piccard Watches, and a Madreperla Organic Pearl Necklace 

Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana presented Adoption Hall of Fame Awards to Mr. Fred Riley, Ms. Lillie Petit Gallagher, and Representative Jim McDermott. Representative McDermott stressed the importance of continued advocacy for those pursuing adoption but also stressed that in many ways, the adoption ceremony/adoption day is not as much the end of the journey as it is the beginning. Parenthood, whether by means of biological or adoption bring with it many potential challenges, however, adoption has its own unique and typical challenges. For instance, continued transitional and attachment issues that are foreign to families where natural child birth occurs. Rep. McDermott stressed the importance of continued support and assistance for adoptive families long after Adoption Day.

Adoption Hall of Fame Award Winners: Mr. Fred Riley, Ms. Lillie Petit Gallagher, Representative Jim McDermott

Like most people, we have a tendency to live in our own world and forget how others might perceive in a negative light, something that is truly magical to us. Let me explain, whether you've looked at this blog site once or you've followed our personal story, Jason and I view Halle-Grace's adoption as something that is nothing short of a miracle, however, after hearing speeches and accounts on the progress made, I was reminded there are still many people, that at best are neutral to adoption and at worse view it in a negative light. That renewed my commitment to continue using my voice and spreading hope to families who want to build their families through the Miracle of Adoption. Our goal is to continue educating all people on the blessing of adoption so that people's perception will mimic that of Christian Johnson, the young son of NCFA CEO and President, Chuck Johnson, who was proud to proclaim to the audience that he was adopted! Tears rolled down my face as I saw Christian beam with excitement before an audience of adoption supporters. His parents have made adoption about people who love one another!

I can only hope and pray that what I am doing on a daily basis is setting an example of hope, joy, and celebration for Halle-Grace’s future. I love that little girl with every fiber of my being! God has a way of knowing when people belong together…I thank Him every day for selecting me to be her mom!

Ashley, Shannon, & Juliana with President & CEO of National Council For Adoption, Chuck Johnson

On a lighter note, Jason and I had a lot of fun “initially” waving our bidding card high during the live auction to help increase funds being raised for NCFA, but before the night was over, we had excitedly and somewhat naively purchased our own privately guided African Safari!!! Yes, I said African Safari...Can’t you see me now… with lions and tigers and...OH MY!!!

The night was truly special in so many ways. I was able to share my table with my beautiful, funny and talented International Sister Queens! Thank you Ashley and Juliana for supporting a cause that is my heart…Adoption!

I love you ladies and Jason & I enjoyed having you and your awesome guests at our table.

The International Queens and Guests for the 30th Anniversary Bow Tie & Pearls Gala

Attending the VIP Gala Reception

Miss International & Mrs. International at the Gala Reception

And last but certainly NOT least, a HUGE thank you and round of applause for my friend, Lauren Koch, Director of Development at the National Council For Adoption. Lauren has spent the last year putting every detail together and what an amazing job she did! The Gala was one all in attendance will remember for the next 30 years!! ! Lauren was presented with a stunning strand of pearls for all of her hard work and dedication. Adopted as an infant, Lauren’s parents were in the audience BEAMING with pride! As I stated earlier… the night was simply magical in so many ways.

Until next post, remain blessed!


Friday, November 19, 2010

Redskins Vets Health Screening

On Saturday, November 13th, in recognition of Veterans Day, the Washington Redskins, the American Heart Association and other health and wellness partner organization hosted a unique screening and education event in the Redskins team locker room ( ! ) at FedEx Field to encourage men and women military veterans to be proactive about their health.

As a spokesperson for the American Heart Association, I worked the AHA booth.

As a spokesperson for the American Heart Association, I worked the AHA booth

The event was geared towards veterans to celebrate Veteran’s Day which occurred earlier in the week. The event was free for vets and their families as well as families and friends of active service members.

I shared vital information about a variety of health issues and conditions – like the “Go Red For Women!”, “Power to End Stroke”, “Alliance for a Healthier Generation” and other American Heart Association information.

We had games for the kids, snacks and refreshments, and it was a great opportunity for pictures of the locker room and FedExField!

Many other organizations like GlaxoSmithKline, the Prostate Cancer Foundation, the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs, the Physician’s Assistant Association, and many others had a strong presence at the event.

My own Congresswoman, Donna F. Edwards, also showed her support for our veterans and armed forces at the event. She shared her own story about encountering heart disease, which shows, yet again, that heart disease doesn’t discriminate. No matter your age, race, culture, size, habits, ancestry or socioeconomic status, heart disease can affect you.

The participant turn out was fabulous – hundreds of veterans, their families, friends and neighbors came out to FedEx Field to get their blood pressure, BMI, cholesterol levels, and other factors that affect heart disease and health as a whole checked free of charge.

They also had the opportunity to take home vital information about a variety of health issues and conditions – like the “Go Red For Women!”, “Power to End Stroke”, “Alliance for a Healthier Generation” and general American Heart Association information that I gave out!

The fabulous Mrs. Northeast International, Deanna Linz, was also there to lend a hand for the AHA and we had a blast meeting people, sharing our stories, listening to participant’s experiences, and doing our best to get the word out about Heart Health and the International pageant system.

Mrs. Northeast International, Deanna Linz, and I spent the day serving the American Heart Association's mission and promoting the International Pageant System.

I will admit that we had pizza for lunch, but being heart healthy doesn’t mean being limited – it means being balanced. The ability to maintain a heart healthy lifestyle starts with ditching “diets” and the “all or nothing” idea and focusing on balance and moderation.

Juliana McKee