Meet Raquel Riley Thomas
Raquel Riley Thomas is a Pageant Owner, Pageant Queen, and Military Veteran. She is the owner of An Officer and Gentlewoman, LLC, a production company based in Washington, DC. The company has the following subsidiaries: Mrs. Pennsylvania America Pageant, Mrs. District of Columbia America Pageant, Mrs. Delaware America Pageant, Little Miss North America (all 50 states and D.C.). She is also Mrs. America 2011 (1st Runner-Up) and Mrs. Maryland America 2010. Currently, you can see her on ABC, "Let's Talk Live" morning show, as a re-occurring beauty and fashion expert.
Raquel is a decorated military veteran, having served nine years in the U.S. Army (5-years Enlisted photojournalist; 4-years Ordnance Officer). She is a graduate of Hampton University with a degree in Psychology. After she completed her tour of duty in the military, she became an entrepreneur. She built a successful photography company and became the first African-American woman to photograph Jet magazines centerfolds for nine years (2000-2009). While meeting with Elite Models (Atlanta) for a discussion on her photography services, the agents decided they wanted to sign with the 5’9” photographer as a commercial model instead. She later signed with Ford Models (New York) and modeled for nine years for Fortune 500 companies.
In June 2010, Raquel switched gears and entered a beauty pageant contest because her young daughter wanted to see a "princess that looked like her." Raquel stepped up to the challenge. She compteted and won the state title of Mrs. Maryland America 2010. She then advanced to the national level and won the title of Mrs. America 2011 (1st Runner-Up). She is only one of two African-American women who have achieved the title in the history of the Mrs. America organization.
In September 2011, Raquel started her Veteran-owned production company, An Officer and Gentlewoman LLC, (AOAGWLLC). She bought the rights to Mrs. DC America, a preliminary pageant to Mrs. America. In December 2015, she acquired the rights to Mrs. Pennsylvania America and then later she acquired Mrs. Delaware America. She is the first and only African-American woman to own three pageants within the Mrs. America organization. She also owns the rights to Little Miss North America (State and National), an online contest for girls ages 7-12 years old. Because of her efforts in highlighting women’s achievements, Raquel received the "Director of the Year 2017" award from the Mrs. America, Inc.
Raquel is also committed to her community through service and philanthropy. She is a member of: Delta Sigma Theta, Inc., Military Officers Association of America and Women in Media. Raquel is also involved in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, in honor of her Army-veteran mother who unfortunately took her own life in March 2013. As a military Veteran, Raquel makes it a point to give a portion of pageant proceeds to military-focused charities such as Women Veteran's Rock, Luke’s Wings and Vetsports.
Raquel’s accomplishments have been noted in both her military and civilian career. In the Army, she was awarded the Army Commendation Medal (2x) and the Army Achievement Medal (3x). Recently, Marquis Who's Who of America awarded Raquel the “Lifetime Achievement Award.” For her commitment to fighting for military Veteran's rights, Raquel was selected as the “Veteran of the Year" 2011, by Women Veteran’s Rock. Raquel was also titled a “Leader of the Future,” by Ebony Magazine, Marquis “Who’s Who of America,” (5-consecutive years), and Washington Business Journal “People on the Move.” She was recently inducted into the Library of Congress under the "Veterans History Project" where her military history is now stored in video and pictures.
Raquel is married to West Point grad Ron Thomas, Esq. with four children, a cat and six robots in their blended family.
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