The Illinois State Society of Washington, DC was proud to join with Congressman Tim Johnson in hosting a reception in DC to honor Erika Herald on her selection as Miss America 2003. Erika N. Harold (born February 20, 1980) was Miss America 2003, having qualified for the pageant by being selected Miss Illinois 2002. Her official platform was "Preventing Youth Violence and Bullying: Protect Yourself, Respect Yourself." This platform choice was said to have grown out of personal experience; she recounts having been the subject of racial and sexual harassment while growing up.
Harold's ethnic background is extremely varied. On her father's side, she has Greek, German and Welsh ancestry, and on her mother's side, Native-American, African-American and Russian descent.
Erika Harold was born in Urbana, Illinois. She attended University High School and Urbana High School and later graduated from the University of Illinois as a Phi Beta Kappa honoree. In 2007, she graduated Harvard University's Law School and in June 2008 was employed as an associate attorney at Sidley Austin LLP in Chicago, Illinois, but is no longer at that firm.