The Miss America Organization is in for big changes to make it "100 percent about empowering women," new board Chairwoman Gretchen Carlson said in an interview Friday on Good Morning America.

She also said it was a form of justice for former Miss Americas to take over the organization in the wake of an email scandal, in which now-resigned leaders had made fun of them and made lewd and hateful comments about them.

Being the first former titleholder to take the reins at the almost 100-year-old pageant "feels incredibly empowering," Carlson told GMA news anchor Amy Robach, herself a contestant in the 1995 Miss Georgia contest, where she was fourth runner-up. "I'm looking at it as a call of duty."

Carlson said she felt compelled to get involved with the organization again to help the program after the email scandal threatened it.

Former CEO and Executive Chairman Sam Haskell, COO Josh Randle, Board Chairwoman Lynn Weidner and Board Vice Chairwoman Tammy Haddad all resigned after the emails surfaced. Some of the worst emails were between Haskell and head writer Lewis Friedman, who is no longer associated with the pageant.

Since then, many other board members have resigned at the urging of former Miss Americas and their supporters, and three other former Miss Americas have 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.

Shindle, now president of Actors Equity, wrote a book critical of MAO finances and leadership after her reign.

The others who joined the board are Laura Kaeppeler Fleiss, Miss America 2012; and Heather French Henry, Miss America 2000.

Carlson said in the interview Friday she was shocked and appalled at the content of the emails but not really surprised.

"Part of me knows ... this kind of behavior is prevalent, unfortunately," Carlson said.

Carlson won a $20 million settlement from Fox News after she filed suit alleging sexual harassment against News Director Roger Ailes about 18 months ago.

She called that time in her life lonely, but said, "Look where we are today; it's a tsunami," referring to the large number of women who have since come forward to share their experiences with sexual harassment through the #MeToo movement and the media in general.

Robach asked Carlson if she thought it was appropriate for young women leaders to continue to be judged on how they look in swimsuits as part of the pageant.

"I have so many great ideas (for the pageant)," said Carlson. "I will be talking about it with other board members. Please stay tuned."

Robach said Carlson told her, "with a twinkle in her eye," she is not ruling out running for office at some time in the future.

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Editorial page editor

In my first job after college got paid to read the New York Times and summarize articles for an early online data base. First reporting job was with The Daily Record in Parsippany. I have also worked in nonprofits, and have been with The Press since 1990.

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