Photo courtesy of Neelam Chahlia 
                                Redmond’s Neelam Chahlia crowned as Mrs. Washington America and competing for the national Mrs. America title on Aug. 26.

Photo courtesy of Neelam Chahlia Redmond’s Neelam Chahlia crowned as Mrs. Washington America and competing for the national Mrs. America title on Aug. 26.

Redmond’s Chahlia to compete for Mrs. America 2020 title

Mrs. Washington America winner says her journey embodies the ‘American Dream.’

Dressed in a sparkly black evening gown with hair and makeup done to perfection, Redmond’s Neelam Chahlia stood on stage alongside 23 other Mrs. Washington America Pageant contestants June 15 at the Kenneth Minnaert Center in Olympia.

“The only person I wanted to impress was my daughter,” said Chahlia, 39.

That night, Chahlia impressed many and was crowned Mrs. Washington America.

For Chahlia, competing in the pageant was more than receiving a crown and sash. She said her life journey embodies the “American Dream.” Chahlia was born and raised in a small town in India where she worked hard to complete her master’s degree and Ph.D. Chahlia said she is proud to be the first Indian-American woman to win the Mrs. Washington title.

As Mrs. Washington, Chahlia is using her platform to raise awareness about drug abuse among young people through the Victoria Siegel Foundation. The foundation was started by Victoria’s parents who tragically lost her to a drug overdose. Chahlia said she is raising awareness and accelerating the fundraising by working with top employers including Microsoft, Google, Boeing, Facebook and Starbucks to match employee donations to the foundation. Chahlia is also making an effort to reach corporations across the country and will provide guidelines to all state titleholders to assist them in similar efforts.

“My goal is to leave a legacy of continued financial support for the Victoria Siegel foundation,” she said.

Chahlia is also reaching and inspiring mothers in her own community after a complicated second pregnancy where she was left bedridden and broken. Her unborn son was diagnosed with a hole in his heart. Doctors advised that she terminate the pregnancy, but she chose to fight for her son’s life, who today is a healthy 4-year-old boy. Instead of feeling hopeless, Chahlia said she made it her mission to help support mothers going through similar pregnancy experiences. She initiated the Strength in Motherhood program, which helps mothers share their stories and support one another.

For about a year now, Chahlia said she has been actively seeking to get back into the workforce, but has had no luck.

“I realized it’s hard for women to get back into the workforce after taking time off to care for a sick child or an aging parent,” she said. “Instead of getting rewarded for their sacrifice, they are penalized for helping those in need.”

As Mrs. Washington, Chahlia has made it a goal to help women who have set aside their careers to care for family. Together with Sen. Manka Dhingra of the 45th Legislative District, they are working on a tax incentive bill for corporations that provide “returnship” programs for women like Chahlia.

To help women regain their physical strength post-pregnancy, Chahlia is working with Pro Club in Redmond as a brand ambassador for the Fit Mom Series.

“You can achieve what you dream for,” Chahlia said. “You just have to open your mind to the possibilities… there’s no limitations.”

Chahlia will compete for the national Mrs. America title on Aug. 24 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“We applaud Neelam and all the charitable work she is doing,” said Pamela Curnel, executive state director for the Washington pageant. “She has a strong commitment to community service and serving others. We will be there to cheer her on at Mrs. America as she vies for the coveted Mrs. America crown.”

Mrs. Washington Pageant is a preliminary to the Mrs. America Pageant. The pageant was established to honor married women throughout the United States. The Mrs. Washington Pageant highlights women from all over the state to showcase their achievements and passion for their communities.

Photo courtesy of Neelam Chahlia 
                                Neelam Chahlia was crowned on June 15.

Photo courtesy of Neelam Chahlia Neelam Chahlia was crowned on June 15.

[flipp]

More in Northwest

Vehicles passing through flooded street. File photo
King County Flood Control District to vote on 2020 budget

The budget will fund a variety of programs across the county.

Sound Publishing file photo
King County Council authorizes staff to draft road levy ballot measure

The county is projected to run out of capital funding for roads and bridges by 2025.

West Point Treatment Plant report due in January

The report will look at ways to keep adequate power flowing to the plant after a July spill.

Flying Fish: Lake Sammamish kokanee move to Orcas Island

It’s part of a program to preserve the unique freshwater salmon species.

Malena Gaces, left, and other members of Washington CAN protest unfair move-out charges and alleged discriminatory behavior outside Kitts Corner Apartments in Federal Way in 2018. Sound Publishing file photo
King County could increase tenant protections

The council is considering ordinances designed to help renters.

The 2015 Wolverine Fire in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest near Lake Chelan. Photo courtesy of the Washington Department of Natural Resources.
The smoky summer that wasn’t

While Washington had a mild season, wildfires burned near the Arctic.

Dane Scarimbolo and Dominique Torgerson run Four Horsemen Brewery in Kent. They were almost shut down in late 2017 by King County, which after years of letting them operate a brewery and taproom, decided they were in violation of county code. Aaron Kunkler/staff photo
Proposed winery ordinance irks King County farmers, neighbors and businesses

Concerns include more traffic, higher land prices, code enforcement and compliance.

Several roads in King County, including the Snoqualmie Parkway, were closed when a brief snow storm struck the region last February. File photo
More roads in King County could be plowed during winter storms

Proposal targets 70 more miles in unincorporated areas.

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Kim Schrier held a roundtable at the Issaquah Food and Clothing Bank on Oct. 3 to talk about the Trump administration’s plan to further change SNAP food benefits rules and reduce the number of people using them. Aaron Kunkler/staff photo
Murray, Schrier vow to fight White House restrictions on food stamps

Senator and Representative met Oct. 3 at Issaquah Food and Clothing Bank.

King County is not on track to meet its greenhouse gas emissions goals, but emissions also have not been rising with population growth. File photo
King County isn’t on track to meet emissions goals

The goals were ambitious but progress has been slow.

King County is considering ways to increase both the supply of and demand for compost to help divert organic material from the landfill. File photo
King County wants to boost composting market

In 2018, around one-third of material sent to regional landfill could have been composted.

Bellevue is the most expensive place in the region to rent an apartment, according to a new analysis. Courtesy photo
Several Eastside cities are among most expensive to rent in Northwest

Bellevue topped the list for highest apartment rents during the first half of 2019.