The Miss America Organization announced Wednesday longtime staff member Karen Nocella has been appointed the executive director of operations, overseeing day-to-day activities in the Atlantic City office.
Nocella has more than 30 years of experience in public relations, marketing and management, the organization said in a press release.
MAO spokesperson Chelsea Mineur said Nocella lives in Mt. Ephraim, Camden County. But the organization declined to make Nocella available for an interview.
It is the first change in MAO staff since Miss America 1989 Gretchen Carlson took over as chairwoman of the board, after an email scandal resulted in the resignation of former CEO and Executive Chairman Sam Haskell, Chief Operating Officer Josh Randle, Board Chairwoman Lynn Weidner and Board Vice Chairwoman Tammy Haddad, along with many board members.
In a recent “Good Morning America” interview on ABC, Carlson told an interviewer she will make big changes to the Miss America Organization to make it “100 percent about empowering women.”
Former Miss Americas and their supporters were upset the board at first tried to defend Haskell, even after seeing emails between him and others that insulted former Miss Americas over their appearance, intelligence and sexual histories.
Three other former Miss Americas have since joined the board.
They include Kate Shindle, Miss America 1998, who was the subject of some of the most hateful emails, including one in which MAO leaders joked she should die.
The others who joined the board are Laura Kaeppeler Fleiss, Miss America 2012; and Heather French Henry, Miss America 2000.
Nocella joined the MAO in 2008 as a tour manager for Miss America, according to the organization. Later she worked as business manager and executive director of promotions and licensing, where she handled Miss America’s appearances.
She was featured in South Jersey Magazine’s Super Women for 2015. That article said she is a lifelong resident of Mount Ephraim, where she is an active member of the Mount Ephraim Baptist Church.
Prior to joining the MAO, she worked in public and community relations for the Philadelphia Phillies, according to MAO.
MAO is a 501©4 nonprofit organization, which has a national network in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.