When she was just thirteen years old, Jordan Somer had a desire to provide the opportunities that she had received through pageantry for the female athletes that she met at the Special Olympics. It was this combination of creativity and passion that gave birth to a new program for girls and women with disabilities. Jordan took the premise of pageantry, a vehicle that she had always used to expand her potential, and made it accessible and empowering for the female athletes that she had met at the Special Olympics. Just a few months after the idea’s conception, she held the first Miss Amazing Pageant in November of 2007. This inaugural event was a pure and powerful celebration of abilities that continues to be a reference point for their mission today.
Jordan coordinated the first Miss Amazing Pageant in her hometown of Omaha, NE and became hooked. Jordan held the Miss Amazing Pageant on an annual basis and, upon receiving a Teen Nick HALO Award in 2010, began using her newfound resources to expand the program to other states. Jordan has been honored with the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award, a Daily Points of Light Award, and a Silver Prudential Spirit of Community Award and was selected to be in the top 30 of L’Oreal Paris’ 2014 Women of Worth for her work with Miss Amazing.
What has been your greatest inspiration?
I am inspired by anyone with grit. It's my favorite quality. The most worthwhile and status quo-shattering endeavors always require a level of courage and stick-with-it-ness that is hard to come by. Through Miss Amazing, I get to meet and speak with women that, despite being held up against low expectations their entire lives, have the grit and courage to push back and fight for their rights and for the rights of others.
What has been the highlight of your journey?
There have been so many peaks over the last 11 years! For now, I would say that my highlight was this August at the sixth annual National Miss Amazing summit. I worked with a team of incredible volunteers to bring 140 outstanding girls and women with disabilities and their families to Chicago for a truly moving celebration and meeting of the minds. That national summit was a real-life embodiment of the forward-thinking community that Miss Amazing has become - and a reminder of how much our movement has grown since the beginning.
What has been the greatest challenge?
My greatest challenge has been staying ahead of such rapid growth. The small community event that I organized with my family and friends when I was a teenager became a nationwide non-profit organization with programs in 9 states over the course of a year. Ever since then, my learning curve has been very steep. We have needed to simultaneously produce quality programs, evaluate areas for improvement, and build out the proper organizational infrastructure that a national program requires. However, I think that it was really a blessing that I was thrown into it. I wasn't really given the time to doubt my abilities or second-guess the idea, nor did I have the knowledge at the beginning to know what I didn't know.
How can fellow Jane's get involved?
Jane's can join our online community by following us on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter (all @missamazinginc) or by going to missamazing.org to sign up for our newsletter. They can also volunteer at a local Miss Amazing event by going to missamazing.org/find-your-state. If a Jane wants to do even more she can give to our Giving Tuesday giving campaign through Facebook on November 27th (Facebook and PayPal are matching donations!) or she can assemble a committee to host an annual Miss Amazing event in New Jersey or New York. We also love creative partnerships and are always excited to chat with people who are motivated by our mission and want to do more.
Jordan graduated from NYU with a degree in Media, Culture, and Communication. She is now the full-time Executive Director of Miss Amazing Inc. and looks forward to a life dedicated to making certain that girls and women of all kinds can be heard, valued, and empowered to reach their greatest potential.