A Crowning Achievement

Courtney Phillips wins Miss Virginia for America title.

Photo by Amanda Lauren

Courtney Phillips reacting to being named Miss Virginia.

Courtney Phillips of Arlington was recently crowned Miss Virginia for America 2020 in South Hill. Phillips was crowned by special guest, the reigning Miss for America Kassie Perkins, and will go on to compete in the Miss for America pageant later this year. 

Photo by Amanda Lauren

Courtney Phillips, Miss Virginia

Phillips plans to use her new title to advocate for her health and wellness charity, Hope for Invisible Wounds. The organization provides resources and tools for those suffering from mental illness and partners with several local, state, and national charities each year. “The pageant gave me an ability to share my story and other people’s to normalize mental illness and end the stigma surrounding it. It allows me to have a voice I wouldn’t otherwise have,” Phillips says. A mental health warrior herself, Phillips has prevailed through anxiety and multiple traumas to share her story and inspire others to do the same. She highlights her outreach efforts on her blog, Spinning Through Life

No stranger to a big stage, Phillips has spoken about mental health awareness at the United Nations General Assembly. “After being told for seven years of my life that I wouldn’t be good enough, it didn’t hit me until I was a small town girl walking through the security for the United Nations General Assembly that I was enough and I was making a difference,” she says. 

During the pandemic, Hope for Invisible Wounds has focused on high-risk populations such as youth, essential workers, the elderly, and those with substance abuse disorders. She reaches nearly 6,000 people a day through her website, and provides helpful advice from her blog and relays her own struggles, while providing different lifelines such as the National Mental Health Association and the phone number for the Suicide Hotline.

When she isn’t promoting her organization or helping others, Phillips enjoys SoulCycle spin classes to burn off any daily stresses and anxieties. This healthy coping mechanism allows her to stay in shape physically and mentally. Phillips says the sisterhood of pageants also helps her get through daily life. “You make friends from around the world, and they become your ‘ride or dies,’” Phillips says. 

When asked why she decided to compete in pageants, other than advocating for her platform, she told a story of a pageant she competed in when she was 15 years old, shortly after 9/11. She received the question, “If you were President Bush, right now, how would you comfort the youth of America?” The question inspired her to earn a Masters degree in marketing from Texas A&M University and forged her career path as a contractor for the federal government, where she works in public relations and communications—skills she also uses to promote Hope for Invisible Wounds’ mission. Phillips says pageants have provided her with the confidence to discover her true path in life, identify who she is as an individual, and learn what she can do to help others.

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