On Thursday, November 18, 2021, Newport resident Ashley Bendiksen will compete for the title of Miss for America Strong at the Westgate Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, NV.

The competition is the “Miss” division within the Mrs. America Organization, engaging single women of all ages who represent diverse personal, professional, and community achievements. Bendiksen will compete in a private interview with a panel of judges, swimsuit, evening wear, and an on-stage question to which she will demonstrate her readiness to take on the role of Miss for America Strong.

Bendiksen was first crowned Miss Rhode Island for America Strong on September 12, 2021, at the Providence Marriott Downtown in Providence. The state competition is produced by director Tracy Brank of TCB Pageants. Now, Bendisken will compete against titleholders from every U.S. state.

According to her bio, Bendiksen is a nationally acclaimed speaker, Top Youth Speaker®, award-winning activist, author, and expert in domestic and sexual violence prevention and youth mental health. Year-round, she travels the U.S. to speak to students and educators, plus trains workplaces and first responders prevention and response. She is also the Founder of the Blue Hearts Project – a global storytelling platform for survivors.

Bendiksen graduated as Valedictorian at Salve Regina University with a B.A. in Administration of Justice – remarkably, seven years after once dropping out due to abuse. As an activist, she has advanced causes from abuse prevention to community health, opioid prevention, Alzheimer’s funding, the performing arts, and women’s empowerment. Presently, she serves on the Board of Directors of the Women’s Resource Center of Newport County and is a volunteer nonprofit spotlight writer for Newport Neighbors Magazine. 

With hopes of winning the national competition, Ashley says that she aims to utilize the title and platform to serve on an even greater scale. She will continue her work to eradicate gender-based violence and empower women, girls, and youth. Additionally, she will serve as an advocate for Victoria’s Voice Foundation (VVF), the organization’s national charity, to help combat opioid abuse. 

To watch the live stream of the competition, visit www.mrsamerica.com for more information.

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What'sUpNewp.  Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in...