South Jersey's own Kate Shindle knows what is involved with being a part of the Miss America Organization as well as the challenges and rewards of being Miss America. During our interview of August 31, 2013, Shindle, as always, was her warm, lovely, engaging and as always, willing to entertain questions, on just about any subject.
Katherine Renee Shindle who prefers “Kate” was crowned Miss America 1998. While attending Northwest University, she entered the Miss Illinois competition and won being crowned Miss Illinois 1997. Competing in the Miss America Competition in Atlantic City, NJ as Miss Illinois brought her back to her roots. Raised in Moorestown, NJ, which is just fifty-seven miles from Atlantic City, the Miss America Competition was no stranger to Shindle and now she was back home with family and friends, in her comfort zone to participate in the Pageant she had watched as a fan and spectator as a teenager.
Shindle has some definite thoughts on the competition returning to its home in Atlantic City. “Yay, (with a giggle), I think the return offers a new opportunity for a classier setting that will once again provide the elements that attracts the best American young women to Miss America. I attended the pageant a couple of times when it was in Las Vegas, but I have to tell you now that it is back I think it will be wonderful. I am not sure if it is one element like the parade that will make the difference, I think and feel the pageant belongs to Atlantic City and the Las Vegas people just couldn't understand the passion we had for it.”
In discussing the changes that have taken place within the Miss America Organization including the installation for the first time, of a woman President (Sharon Pearce) at the helm. “It's time for a woman President, not just any woman for the sake of having a woman president but certainly if it is the right woman. Sharon has been an active representative of the Miss America Organization and has put in her time learning the requirements of her job and she knows how to do it well,” said Shindle. She paused a moment and added, “It has always seemed somewhat of an oddity to me that the competition that attracts the best and brightest young college women was run primarily by elder men, although that now seems to be changing.”
Since returning to Atlantic City the Miss America Organization appears to have hit the ground running and has a firm grasp on bringing everything together. Under the guiding direction of Sam Haskell, III CEO and Chairman of The Board and President, Sharon Pearce the Parade and other events are all scheduled and moving forward..
“During my reign, I had differences from time to time with Leonard Horn. However, I consider Leonard Horn a visionary. He understood the best way to get the culture and media to respect Miss America was not to merely put a young woman on a pedestal. In fact, he tried to knock the pedestal out from under Miss America to make her more of a representative who belongs to the public,” said Shindle.
Shindle was one of a group of Miss Americas who became known not just for their beauty and intellect but for their understanding of the need for Miss America to use her popularity and visibility to become in Shindle's words, “A Social Agitator.”
“In my era, 90% of what we focused on was a real public issue, and it was really powerful. I didn't have to walk into a dinner party, speaking engagement or a school and make something up out of thin air. I was there and talking about things that mattered to the world and I always had that to rely on. I always felt as if I was showing the world how relevant Miss America could be and that I was making an impact” said Shindle.
When Kate Shindle was out speaking on behalf of Miss America her focus was always on HIV/AIDS awareness and education. As an outspoken AIDS activist, she has raised tens of millions of dollars for AIDS and other organizations. Her knowledge on the subject was and still remains very valued and she was a participant and chaired a conference session at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. Still true to her beliefs, “Because of the advancements we have made, my time now is spent more on the fund raising level,” said Shindle.
Shindle's first CD in 1999, “Christmas to Come” featured the Chicago Jazz ensemble and raised money for the National AIDS Fund and to promote AIDS Awareness. Since that time Shindle has gone on to appear on Broadway in hits such as, “Legally Blonde,” “Cabaret,” “Jekyll & Hyde” and “Oliver.” She continues to be a very sought after actress and singer. Kate Shindle keeps herself very busy between her acting and various other interests, “I now try to do only those things that make me happy, so I can enjoy going to work everyday, which is where I am right now,” added Shindle.
Kate Shindle is very passionate about everything she does, from being Miss America to being a passionate advocate for AIDS activism as well as her acting and singing career. However, her friends and co-workers will not hesitate to tell you that she is a loyal friend, who above all is a compassionate, intelligent woman with great insight who has always been willing to work hard to achieve her goals and remain true to her values.