Health department director wins pageant title, strives to give back

Fifteen years ago, LaShan Dixon’s friends challenged her to enter a pageant. The experience, and others that followed, helped her hone in on skills she was lacking. 

And now, Dixon is reaping the rewards of her former college dare, walking in a path with a purpose, while supporting others. 

Along the way, she discovered that pageants are about more than crowns, pizazz and prizes. 

Multiple pageant titles gifted Dixon prize money that helped her pay for college. But it also showed her the pageant world is much broader than a beauty contest.

“I realized how much impact these young girls and women impact the community,” said Dixon, who spends her days (and some nights) as Rutherford County’s public health director. She’s also a Middle Tennessee State University alumna.

“(People) don’t see the long hours and hard work and number of community service hours.”

Her biggest feat so far occurred last month. Dixon was crowned Mrs. United States of America.

Rutherford County Health Department Director LaShan Mathews Dixon was crowned as United States of America Mrs. 2022.

Through pageantry, she found a love for serving others. Eventually Dixon, her husband, Lamar, and their daughter, Londyn, created HOPE, which stands for “Helping Other People Excel.”

The organization is a platform that honors the memory of the couple’s siblings, who are both deceased. Since its inception six years ago, HOPE has given more than $7,000 in scholarships to Middle Tennessee high school students.

Rutherford County Health Department Director LaShan Mathews Dixon was crowned as United States of America Mrs. 2022 in Las Vegas.

“We wanted to do something to keep their memories alive, to keep their spirits going, because they were both always so loving,” Dixon said.

Prize money from her Mrs. United States of America will also be used to fund more scholarships through HOPE.

“We wanted to do something to help improve the quality of life of current generations,” Dixon said. “I had a lot of people in my life that helped me overcome obstacles and barriers as a young girl.

“I just want to build a legacy.”

In addition to competing in pageants, Dixon has coordinated and participated in numerous fashion shows and exclusive events. She is the CEO of LaShan Dixon, LLC, through which she empowers individuals to feel confident on and off the runway.