Caitlin Rummel

Model and Salix resident Caitlin Rummel poses for a photo on Friday, April 30, 2021. Rummel, 33, is working toward becoming a model in the 2022 Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition.

Caitlin Rummel is not one to shy away from the spotlight.

The Salix resident has been modeling for more than 10 years.

At age 21, Rummel worked for Hugh Hefner at the Playboy Mansion in Beverly Hills, California, on New Year’s Eve where she was paid to mingle. She started her own clothing line in 2017.

Now, at age 33, Rummel is working toward becoming a model in the 2022 Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition.

Rummel said she is ready for a new challenge.

“I’m a very goal-oriented woman, and I think it’s very important for women to accomplish their goals,” she said. “I think, in today’s society, there are more opportunities for women than in the past.”

After having submitted photographs “years ago,” Rummel said she received a mass email letting her know about this year’s Sports Illustrated runway show in Miami. More than 30 women will model for the runway show, hoping to be selected for the swimsuit edition.

“It’s high-end fashion,” Rummel said. “You want to inspire other women. You want to be confident and put a good message out there.”

Rummel said she is marketing herself online for a year, building a social media brand. The year-long plan includes Rummel staging photo shoots and placing the photos on social media sites like Facebook and TikTok.

“There are thousands of girls who compete,” Rummel said. “That’s just part of the process.”

Born and raised in Richland Township, Rummel set out as a teenager to find her own way.

“I was 19 years old when Hugh Hefner picked me up to start working for him,” she said. “It made me a very confident person. It made me who I am.”

For Rummel, life at the Playboy Mansion is long past.

“I’d like people to know that I’m a different person,” she said. “It’s a decision that I made when I was younger. I think it’s more important for a woman to focus on an education and a meaningful career to give her independence.”

Growing up in mostly conservative Richland Township was sometimes difficult, Rummel said.

“When I did Playboy, I was judged for that,” she said. “People didn’t accept me and thought I was a terrible person for making that decision. ... That laid heavy on me for a long time, and I didn’t live here for quite a while because of that.”

She attended Pennsylvania Highlands Community College and graduated from Penn State University with a bachelor’s degree in human relations and employment law. She is pursuing a master’s degree in international employment law.

Rummel launched I Am Diversity Clothing, an online T-shirt business, in 2017 when she lived in Richland Township. Marketing was a challenge.

“It’s hard to do a clothing line when you’re in Johnstown without being directly with big vendors like in California,” she said.

Rummel is employed as a healthcare recruiter. She is divorced with no children. She is engaged to William Held, and the couple live in Salix.

She is the daughter of Frank Rummel and Holly DeFonzo. Her parents and her sister Madeline DeFonzo and brother Ryan Rummel are supportive, she said.

Patrick Buchnowski is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 532-5061. Follow him on Twitter @PatBuchnowskiTD.

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