Friday, April 22, 2016

"Farewell & Thank you" By Kate Howe

For my final blog post, I wanted to share a couple of my favorite memories and parts of my thank you letter.  I have so many memories from this past year that will always hold a special place in my heart.  I also had a huge team that made this year possible.   

Some of the sweetest memories I have start back to the night of being crowned Mrs. Minnesota International.  They way my family and friends reacted was priceless.  They have given me so much love and support throughout this year.  When you win, you don’t just bring home the crown for yourself.  You bring it home to your family, friends, “sisters’ and platform.  I absolutely loved that my Grandma got to tell all of her friends at her community living center about the pageant and showed off pictures.  Hearing about that melted my heart as much as seeing the smiles on my niece’s faces when they rode in a parade with me or the time my little two year old said how beautiful I looked in a pageant dress.  Life doesn’t get much sweeter than that. 

Delivering books with Reada the Reading Frog and realizing my actions were creating change in children living in poverty created a lasting impression.  Visiting my non-profit, First Book, in Washington D.C. and giving their executive staff my fundraising money along with my corporate sponsorships really put my year in perspective and sealed it with a bow.  I could go on and on about all the incredible people I met or the amazing organizations I was able to support, but I have so many people to thank for this year. 

Thank you Allison and Richard Stavrakis for this incredible opportunity.  To Cheri Kennedy and Donnell Rank, thank you for being my pageant coaches and helping make my dream come true.  Thank you to Suzy Bootz for showing me the beautiful side of pageantry.  Thank you mock interview judges, Sarah Moses for picking my winning dress, Penny Wells for making me feel beautiful, Paula Preston for capturing the perfect pictures, Laura Werk for my incredible page layouts and thank you James Peterson for my making my hair look fabulous all year long.  These people can never be thanked enough for their incredible support to the International Pageant System. 


I will forever be your 2015 Mrs. Minnesota International

Kate Howe


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

What to Expect (as the Husband)

Hello all!    I am sure Kate has mentioned that we are not a pageant family; she had never been in a pageant before the competition last year, and I certainly had no idea what to expect.  That is why I am grateful for the opportunity to discuss the husband's perspective regarding the big weekend coming up in just over a week.  Here are a few tips for the guys when the big weekend finally arrives...


·  Be as supportive as possible.  I'm not advocating that you stay up to the wee hours of the night practicing interview questions with your wives; however, getting her some flowers or a cup of coffee on the big day goes a long way.  You have to keep in mind regardless of how seasoned your wife is at pageants, she is doing some things that are outside of most people's normal comfort zone:  Public speaking, interviewing with judges, and consistently updating their appearance as they have to be "on" all weekend.  I didn't realize the amount of effort and energy involved in a pageant before we got to St Cloud last year, but while we were there, it was an eye opening experience.  You will also notice they get up in the middle of the night to start preparing for the next day; it is a big commitment on that weekend.  Just being a little more supportive than normal will go a long way in St Paul.  


·  Prepare a little.  Yes, I get it, this pageant is 99% about your wives.  It should be.  But, we have one "job" that is graded.  We walk our wives in front of the audience in their evening gown.  There is a practice session before the event where you are given tips on the right places and pace to walk.  It reminds a little of being told how to walk when you are in a wedding, except during the pageant, you are together the whole time.  It feels uncomfortable and robotic in some places (like lifting her hand up and holding it a certain way before she walks in front of the crowd).  My advice is to just show that you are enjoying yourself, and that you are comfortable walking with your wife.  I tried to tell a joke to get Kate to laugh to show that we actually do like each other.  There is also a part of the program where we answer interview questions.  The questions are mostly silly, and the moderator is really good at getting a chuckle out of the audience--but, I would suggest reading the practice questions (I think there are ten) before the rehearsal.  I hadn't because I speak in front of people quite a bit and just thought I would "wing it."  I looked awkward/uncomfortable in the practice round.  


·  Last and certainly not least, have fun with this. On Friday night the guys are done with our part relatively early, so we'll head out together and grab a frosty beverage.  Use this time to discuss the experience so far, and just relax and have fun.  Yes, you are out with some strangers, but hanging out over a few cold ones can't be that terrible of an experience. The husbands last year were a great group of guys, and I am sure it will be the same this year.  Also, have fun with the interview questions--make a joke or two--the crowd wants you to succeed, so have fun with it.


Finally, if you are lucky enough to have your wife be the winner, you need to learn how to hold a camera.  Don't be alarmed that most people you meet will want a picture with your wife.  That is normal, and something that should make you proud!  


I do want to say congratulations to my wife Kate for being the best advocate possible for the Mrs. Minnesota International Program over the last year.  All of your hard work and dedication has been noticed, and I couldn't be more proud of you! 


Thursday, April 14, 2016

"Pageant Weekend Tips" By Kate Howe

The pageant is right around the corner!!  I wish everyone the best of luck and wanted to pass along some tips for the weekend. 


1)      Dress to impress – all weekend long.  I am sure you have spent ample time picking out your interview suit/dress and evening gown, but ensure you spend time picking out all of your outfits for the entire weekend.  If you want the title, you represent it 24/7.  Make sure they are outfits that you feel comfortable in.  When you look good, you feel good, and when you feel good you will shine!  Make sure to organize everything right away including accessories. 


2)      Professional hair and makeup – if you can afford it, I would highly recommend pursuing a professional (unless you are amazing at all!)  You want to feel beautiful all weekend and the last thing you want to worry about is your hair and makeup.  You are there to win the judges over with your personality, platform and grace.  Push the details to someone else if you can!  Also, cover your tattoos please…just trust me.


3)      Don’t stress about the interview questions.  I downloaded hundreds of questions and of course none of them were asked – ha!  Be yourself, know what is on your bio, tie everything back to your platform and have a game plan if you were to win.  Be passionate and charming – like you always are!  Just relax, be yourself and pretend you are talking to a friend. 


4)      Listen to the director and other staff members.  They are here 100% to support you and the pageant.  I ensure you they have your best interest in mind and are only trying to help.  Ask questions if you are confused or not sure.  I will be available all weekend for anything!


5)      Don’t worry about the other women competing.  This is about you and your platform, period.  There will always be someone prettier or better-spoken.  Who cares…be the best you and that is truly all that matters.  This is about your experience and having fun.  All the women there are truly unique and have a platform close to their heart.  Don’t get caught up in the competition element that you lose focus on why you are there.  Also, stay away from copying the other women’s poses…do what feels natural to you and what you think looks the best on you!



Your 2015 Mrs. Minnesota International

Kate Howe



"Junior League of Minneapolis " By Lillie Imm

I had SO much fun volunteering with the amazing women of The Junior League of Minneapolis as well as all of the girls modeling and emceeing at the American Girl Fashion Show!  I have volunteered with the fashion show for 7 years and look forward to it every year!  It has been my privilege to model, emcee, style doll hair and help with repackaging.  Thank you to the Junior League of Minneapolis for having such a wonderful event that includes girls and young women and encourages volunteerism.


This year, I modeled a Maryellen Doll outfit.  Maryellen is the newest historical American Girl from the 1950’s and I even got to do the hand jive!   I have modeled many of the American Girl character clothing over the years including Bitty Babies, Julie, Elizabeth, Grace, Caroline, just like me dolls and more!  I would love to encourage other young girls to participate in the fashion show in the future.

 I also emceed again this year.  I had a blast having the best ‘seat’ in the house.  As a bonus, my partner at one of the shows was my good friend Maggie and my little cousin Maisie modeled too!  We had so much fun together! 

The Junior League of Minneapolis is such a great organization.  Did you know they started the Children’s Theater?  They currently have many programs that are crucial to Minnesota’s communities.  Please use the following links to learn more about their programs or to donate to the Junior League of Minneapolis:

Backpack Buddies which provides healthy meals to children living in food-insecure homes living in the twin cities.

Between the Lines provides books to children read by their caregivers while they are away from each other.

Helping Hands provides one day volunteers to organizations in the community.

H.O.M.E. is a program that equips parents to use STEM activities at home.

Leagueaires brings the joy of music to those that need it the most.

Wallin Scholarship is a scholarship for an outstanding young lady who excels academically, shows commitment to her community and is a first generation college student.


I hope to see you on the runway, volunteering or watching the show next year!



Lillie Imm, Miss Pre-teen Minnesota International 2015

Saturday, April 9, 2016

" Reada the Reading Frog" By kate Howe

You may wonder from time to time…who and what is that big green big frog with me on occasion!  Reada the Reading Frog was one element of my strategic marketing plan supporting my platform: Ignite the Imagination with Books.  The foundation of my platform is children, specifically children in low income areas.  These are children who don’t get the opportunity to go places where there are animated characters that interact and play with them.  I wanted to create a lasting impression in the minds of these children and tie a positive experience to reading. 

Mascots are one of the most effective advertising tools.  For years, mascots have been able to help children learn about even the most serious subjects, life forest fires (Smokey the Bear), because kids relate to simple characters.  Adults are no different.  When we see someone relatable on television – with a familiar personality or problem – we become engaged.  In addition, animal mascots are effective because most people, regardless of age, find animals cute or endearing. 

Reada has been instrumental in helping me promote my platform.  She has traveled with me to numerous schools across the state, attended all of my fundraisers and story times.  The children absolutely love her.  They run and hug her immediately.  Half the time they are more excited to see her than me

The best part about Reada is that she is my husband – ha!  Every time I tell people that they just giggle.  I’m not sure how you could get a more supportive Mr. Minnesota.  He is absolutely perfect for the job.  He is extremely outgoing, funny and entertaining.  I’m not sure I will ever be able to repay him for this experience!


Hugs from Reada and I,

Your 2015 Mrs. Minnesota International

Kate Howe











Wednesday, March 16, 2016

"First Book’s Impact" by Kate Howe

Learning to read is critical to a child’s success – both in school and in life.  Literacy is one of the best predictors of a child’s future success.  But a child without access to books won’t have the chance to become an engaged and capable reader.  This is the reality for children who are growing up in poverty; books are scarce.  In some of the lowest-income neighborhoods in the country there is only one book available for every 300 children. 

At First Book, our innovative approaches tackle the single biggest barrier to the development of literacy – access to books.  To date, First Book has provided more than 135 million books to children in need, increasing access to needed materials for educators and administrators, and helping to elevate educational opportunities for our nation’s most disadvantaged youth. 

Through two innovative distribution engines – the First Book National Book Bank and the First Book Marketplace – educators are empowered to influence and select the educational materials their students need most. 

The National Book Bank is the first centralized distribution system for large-scale donations of children’s books from publishers to schools and programs serving kids in need.  Today, the First Book National Book Bank distributes over 8 million books annually.  The Marketplace is an online site offering high-quality children’s books and educational materials at deeply discounted prices exclusively to programs registered with First Book. 

First Book is extremely efficient and frugal.  97% of our revenue goes directly to providing new books to kids in need.  We are also expanding resources by providing high-quality books on college preparation, healthy eating and exercise, anti-bulling, science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), diversity and many other topics as well as bilingual titles and resources.

Sharing my love for First Book,

Your 2015 Mrs. Minnesota International

Kate Howe


Sunday, March 6, 2016

" American Heart Association' Go Red for Women" By Lillie Imm

I would like to thank the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women for allowing me to be part of their event at the Mall of America.  It is such a wonderful life-saving cause!

I learned the steps for emergency CPR, how to administer CPR in case of an emergency, and that the compressions are the most important part.  I also learned to ALWAYS tell one person to call 911, not just tell a crowd because everyone may assume someone else is calling.  I got to see an AED and learn how it works, did you know the machine will tell you if it is needed? 

I had so much fun visiting with the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women volunteers.  The main volunteer team has an ‘emergency’ skit.  Seeing them enact an emergency really helped me to remember the steps.  They were great actors and fun to talk to!


If you would like more information or to donate to the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women, please visit:

I also want to tell you about another foundation I learned about at the event.  The Patrick Schoonover Play for Patrick Foundation.  His family is working hard to ensure heart defects are found earlier in children by educating the public and making screening more accessible.  If you are interested in donating or learning more about the Patrick Schoonover Play for Patrick Foundation, please visit:


I was honored to sing for such a wonderful cause and I hope I drew more attention to the tables!  It is so important for everyone to know more about heart disease, the signs, and emergency life-saving techniques.  I am hoping to get CPR certified next summer!

If you are interested in learning CPR please visit:


Lillie Imm, Miss Pre-teen Minnesota International 2015

Monday, February 29, 2016

" MusicLink Foundation" by Lillie Imm


Play on!  I had fun at the MusicLink Foundation Playathon fundraiser at the Mall of America.  I was honored to be included again this year along with about 250 other kids.  I loved hearing all the talented kids from Minnesota play for a great cause!  

MusicLink provides reduced rate lessons and instruments to children with musical potential throughout Minnesota and the nation.  MusicLink has helped over 6000 children nationwide.   Those students have an impressive 99% college rate with many receiving musical scholarships! 

If you are interested in learning more, participating in the playathon next year, or would like to make a donation, please click this link:


Isn’t it exciting that the Minnesota International Pageant is moving to the Twin Cities this year?  I hope to see you on April 30th!


Lillie Imm, Miss Pre-teen Minnesota International 2015




Sunday, February 14, 2016

" Professional Women's Network" By Alexis Adu-Bobi

            I had the great pleasure of speaking at the Professional Women’s Network in Duluth. It is an organization of entrepreneurial women in the Duluth community. It is a place to network and get to know the leading women of the Northland. It was such an honor to be their speaker for the month. I was able to share my journey with them as Miss Minnesota International.  It was so great to connect with the women within the community and learn about their different professions and businesses. I love events where women empower other women.


            The Professional Women’s Network is an organization that is very dear to my heart. I had my very first speaking event almost two years ago with this organization. It was the first time I decided to be honest about my past and I had received such wonderful reception from everybody. It was so rewarding to see how time has made a difference.  I am so thankful I have been able to share my story and my journey with these wonderful women. It has been great to work with them and make a difference in our community.


Peace, Love, and Blessings


Alexis Adu-Bobi

Miss Minnesota International 2015

Saturday, February 6, 2016

"Why We Go Red" by Kate Howe


The International Pageant’s official platform is the American Heart Association’s GO RED FOR WOMEN campaign.  The red dress has become the iconic symbol of the battle against heart disease and stroke in women.  When it comes to beating heart disease and stroke, change can be the cure and February is American Heart Month.  Heart disease is the number one leading cause of death in the U.S., causing one in three deaths among women each year. 

Education is key!  Over 80% of cardiac and stroke events can be prevented with education and action.  Below is a list of the five things you can do to help prevent heart disease:

(1)    Know your numbers – understand your numbers so you know your risk and can measure your progress as you take steps to change your odds.

(2)    Follow doctor’s orders – whether it’s a prescribed medication or regimen, you should follow your doctor’s orders.

(3)    Get a move on – exercise is one of the most important things you can do change your odds.  Simple changes like walking and taking the stairs can make a huge difference.

(4)    Tweak what you eat – make every bite count!  Choose small portions of lean protein, fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grain instead of crash diets and junk food.

(5)    Quit smoking – even if you’ve been a heavy smoker most of your life, you can significantly reduce your risk of heart disease by quitting smoking.

Sweating. Pressure. Nausea. Jaw pain.  Believe it or not, these are all symptoms of a heart attack in women.  They are also symptoms that women often brush off as the flu, stress of simply feeling under the weather – which could put their lives in jeopardy.  Heart disease is the number 1 killer of women, which is why it is so important to know the warning signs. 

I have had the opportunity to attend many American Heart Association events throughout my year including black tie galas, walks and luncheons.  At every event you hear incredible stories that touch your heart from the little girl who had open heart surgery at 2 weeks old to the surgeon who chose that line of work because they lost their parents to heart disease. 

Go Protect that Heart and Share the Warning Signs!

Your 2015 Mrs. Minnesota International

Kate Howe