There she is:: Dorchester’s Janelle Woods-McNish, right, was crowned Mrs. Massachusetts during a pageant on March 19 at the Boston Marriott-Newton. Photo courtesy Mrs. Massachusetts
The mother of 4-year-old twins girls, Janelle Woods-McNish, 31, was crowned Mrs. Massachusetts on March 19. The Neponset area resident said that, even though she has previous pageant experience, it was a “complete surprise” to hear her name called.
“The first thing I can remember seeing is my entire family stood up, and they were clapping and cheering me on,” she said. “It was a priceless moment.”
Woods-McNish said that her pageant experience in general has been “amazing.”
“I know it’s a cliché, but I’ve met some of my best friends through pageants,” she said. “Pageants have been a great vehicle for me to meet people and explore different cultures. I’ve also grown as a public speaker and I have more confidence.”
Woods-McNish, who is the community involvement manager for Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, is also the executive director of the Miss Ethnic New England Pageant, a program that helps women of all ethnicities discover their inner beauty and celebrate their cultural backgrounds. The pageant also provides opportunities for the contestants to give back to their communities. The program also provides scholarships to each queen.
Woods-McNish acknowledged the work of Miss America and Miss USA and said she has a “deep level of respect” for those organizations, but she felt having a separate pageant for married women was important because they are at different places in their lives than women who are not married.
“You have different strengths,” she said. “It allows you to see yourself at your best. Your life doesn’t end when you become a mother, when you get married.” Woods-McNish also said Mrs. Massachusetts was her first pageant as a wife and mother and that it was “a little nerve-wracking” to get back on stage and into the flow of pageants.
Woods-McNish’s first appearance as Mrs. Massachusetts was the American Red Cross’ annual Youth Talent Show on March 23. Proceeds from the talent show benefited measles vaccinations abroad.
During her reign, Woods-McNish said she will do community service around the state, getting involved in “anything and everything.” Her emphasis, however, is on education. She will be working with an organization that works on preventing the high school dropout rate and helps students along the path to college.
The next stop for Janelle Woods-McNish is the nationally televised Mrs. America Pageant, which will be held in August.
“I’m excited about the journey to get there,” Woods-McNish said. “It’s going to challenge me and I’m looking forward to that challenge. I’m looking forward to every moment of the experience.”