ATLANTIC CITY — For the first time in the pageant’s nearly 100-year history, the Miss America Organization’s top leadership positions will be filled by women who have competed for the crown, the organization announced Thursday.
Regina Hopper, Miss Arkansas 1983, will assume the role of president and CEO of the Miss America Organization. Marjorie Vincent-Tripp, Miss America 1991, will chair the Board of Trustees for the Miss America Foundation.
They join Miss America 1989 Gretchen Carlson, chairwoman of the Board of Trustees for the Miss America Organization.
“It’s not really a rebuild but a rebranding of Miss America and making the organization relevant,” Hopper said. “The most important message from today’s announcement is that the Miss America stakeholders, as well as the current young women in the program and those young women interested in the program, will see Miss America as something that they want to be a part of.”
The announcement comes almost six months after the release of emails between former Miss America CEO and Executive Chairman Sam Haskell and board members and employees that use crude and vulgar language to describe past contestants’ weight and sexual history. The emails also revealed efforts by the Haskell-led board to sabotage several former Miss Americas’ post-pageant careers.
The scandal threatened the future of the competition and led to the resignation of Haskell, Chief Operating Officer Josh Randle, board Chairwoman Lynn Weidner and several other board members.
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It also led to what Hopper described Thursday as an “opportunity” for a new direction.
“We have an extraordinary group who believe in the mission and the vision of Miss America, and that is an inclusive process,” Hopper said. “The successes of the last couple of months has been creating an infrastructure for people in the organization to have a voice.”
Members of the Miss America Organization elected several new board members in 2018, including four former Miss Americas, two former state titleholders and two former state competition executive directors.
The date for this year’s competition has not been announced, but the organization has said there will be a pageant this year. In years past, announcements about the competition at Boardwalk Hall and the national television broadcast were made in early February.
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Hopper will oversee day-to-day operations and television broadcast of the competition, and Vincent-Tripp will chair the board for the foundation, the not-for-profit corporation in charge of the organization scholarships. She will be responsible for educating the public about the foundation’s values and getting public support, the organization said.
“I am honored to lead the Miss America Foundation as we begin a new chapter of the Foundation,” Vincent-Tripp said in a statement. “It is my hope to continue the mission of expanding the reach of the Foundation to provide scholarship opportunities for young women across the board.”
For Miss America 2013 Mallory Hagan, who was targeted in the December email scandal comments, the changes are positive.
“It’s been a period of growth for Miss America,” Hagan told The Press of Atlantic City.
Hagan had called for the resignation of the previous Miss America board. Thousands of past competitors, from national titleholders to local contestants, supported Hagan’s call for change.
One of the changes she was most excited about, Hagan said, was the creation of a grievance committee. Composed of former titleholders and former state executive directors, the committee will handle problems within the Miss America Organization.