Klinger family experiences international spotlight
A member of the Minnkota team is one half of an inspirational duo that brought home the 2020 Mrs. International crown.
Employees at Minnkota Power Cooperative know Andrew Klinger as a skilled senior technical maintenance technician. But just three weeks ago on July 25, he also became a “Mr. International” of sorts when his wife, Ashley Rae Klinger, was crowned Mrs. International 2020 in Kingsport, Tenn.
Andrew was onstage with Ashley when she earned the title – a moment they both knew would help them spread their message of the growing need for foster care families.
“Sharing in that moment with her where everything we had been praying for and working for came true was a moment neither of us will ever forget,” Andrew said. “I don’t know if it’s truly set in yet.”
Ashley and Andrew started the BE A FOSTER Movement last year as a way to advocate for foster parenting and adoption and the resources to support those families. The Klingers are foster and adoptive parents themselves, and they saw the International Pageants program as a way to share their story and make a difference in lives of so many children.
“Through our journey with infertility, adoption and foster care, we were called to launch the BE A FOSTER Movement for the 2.7 million children in foster care around the world,” Andrew said. “With the global effects of COVID, combined with the president’s recent executive order for strengthening the child welfare system, now more than ever, we knew this was the time to share foster care and the mission of the BE A FOSTER Movement.”
For those who are unfamiliar with Ashley’s pageant path, she was Mrs. North Dakota International 2016 and Mrs. Midwest International 2017 before being crowned Mrs. Central States International 2020. That title is what led her to compete for Mrs. International this year. Even with the pageant sashes stacking up and the media attention growing, Andrew says not much has changed at home.
“Ashley wasn’t waiting for a crown to be placed on her head to start doing the work. She was already creating change and making a difference before the pageant ever happened,” he said. “Now that she’s Mrs. International, her schedule is just a little more demanding, as she’s had many more opportunities to promote BE A FOSTER. To us, she’s still Ashley (mommy).”
Even though Ashley is the one with the crown, Andrew says his wife has always made it clear that their story of infertility, foster care and adoption is as much his to share as hers. “This journey wouldn’t be what it is without each other. We truly are a team,” he said.
As for his family of coworkers back at Minnkota, Andrew says he has seen nothing but support – not only because of the Mrs. International win, but because of the work they are doing within the foster community.
“That, above everything else, has meant the most to us,” he said.
Learn more about the Klingers’ BE A FOSTER Movement at BeAFoster.org.