Twenty-six year old, Cordelia Cranshaw, a former foster youth and now, foster system advocate; motivational speaker; and Licensed Graduate Social Worker; is the current Miss District of Columbia USA 2019. Cordelia earned her undergraduate degree from George Mason University and graduated with her Master of Social Work from the University of Maryland’s Advanced Standing Social Work Program.
Four years ago, she founded a non-profit organization, Acts of Random Kindness (ARK), a program that provides programs and resources to children and families facing life challenges that include incarcerated parents, homelessness, and foster care. All adversities that Cordelia herself has faced in her life. Cordelia, who is one of 18 siblings, grew up most of her life in foster care, first at the age of five, and then at the age of 14 until the age of 21, where she was often bounced from home to home and at some point, was even homeless.
Her mother was incarcerated for 10 years when Cordelia was just 12-years old and her father was an alcoholic. Cordelia was often told, she would most likely be a statistic and never make it in the world on her own, yet, she continues to defy the odds each and every day as her resiliency and her path in helping others, has earned her recognition throughout Washington, D.C. and the country with her inspirational story.
Cordelia’s first priority as Miss District of Columbia USA 2019 is to help inspire others to turn their dreams into reality. She states, “No matter what life challenges you face, no matter how negative the circumstances are, we can always turn negatives into positives.” Cordelia will travel to local schools and youth groups, sharing her experiences and tools for success. She wants to instill hope into those who feel hopeless and believes we are all only one resource away from reaching our dreams.
Cordelia is honored to represent the District of Columbia at the Miss USA pageant this year and hopes to bring the crown back to the District to show that no matter where your past has been, your future can be anything you can dream it to be.