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.
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Miss America 2017, Savvy Shields, walks on the beach for the iconic toe dip. Monday, September 12, 2016. (Viviana Pernot/ Staff Photographer)
Miss America 2016 Betty Cantrell takes the annual toe dip in the Atlantic Ocean in Atlantic City , Monday Sept. 14, 2015, the day after winning the crown.
Miss America 2015 Kira Kazantsev dips her toes in the ocean, Monday Sept. 15, 2014, as part of a pageant tradition in Atlantic City.
Miss America 2005, Deidre Downs, tests the waters in front of the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, where only hours before she was crowned the new Miss America. Sun. 9/19/04
Miss America, Ericka Dunlap, splashes in the Atlantic Ocean in front of Resorts Atlantic City the morning after winning her crown. Sun. 9.21.03
Miss America Erika Harold splashes for photographers in the Atlantic Ocean in Atlantic City, N.J. Sunday, Sept, 22, 2002. (AP Photo/Daniel Hulshizer)
Miss America, Katie Harman, jumps waves in the ocean in front of the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City the morning after winning the crown. Sun. 9/23/01
Miss America 2001 Angela Perez Baraquio, the former Miss Hawaii, reacts to the cold saltwater as she takes her traditional leap in the Atlantic Ocean for photographers just hours after winning the crown in Atlantic City, N.J., Sunday, Oct. 15, 2000. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Miss America 2000 Heather French, the former Miss Kentucky, jumps in the air as two surfers pass by during the traditional visit to the beach Sunday, Sept. 19, 1999, after being crowned Miss America Saturday night. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Miss America 1999, Nicole Johnson, the former Miss Virginia, leaps into the air as she poses for photographers on the beach in Atlantic City, N.J., Sunday, Sept. 20, 1998. Johnson is a graduate of the University of South Florida who recently completed work on a master's degree in journalism. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Sunday, Sept. 14, 1997. An Atlantic City police officer takes Miss America Katherine Shindle's picture as she poses for photographers on the beach in Atlantic City. (AP Photo/Daniel Hulshizer)
Miss America 1988 Kaye Lani Rae Rafko. Press File Photo
Miss America 1987 Kellye Cash on the Atlantic City Beach. Press file photo.
Miss America 1986 Susan Akin of Mississippi. Press file photo.
Miss America 1986 Susan Akin of Mississippi. Press file photo.
Vanessa Williams, Miss America for 1984 takes a leap for photographers on the beach in Atlantic City, Sept. 18, 1983. (AP Photo)
Miss America 1979 Kylene Barker from Virginia reads the front page of the Sunday Press. Press photo.
Miss America 1978 Susan Perkins on the Atlantic City boardwalk. Press photo.
Miss America 1977 Dorothy Benham reading the Sunday Press. Press file photo.
Miss America 1975, Shirley Cothran, reads the front page of the Press. Historical archive photo.
Miss America 1974 Rebecca Ann King. Press Archive Photo.
Miss America 1972 Laurie Lea Schaefer from Ohio reads The Sunday Press. Press archive photo.
Miss America 1970 Pamela Anne Eldred from Michigan reading the front page of the Sunday Press. Press file photo.
Miss America pageant 1967. Winner Jane Anne Jayroe reads The Press.
Miss America pageant 1966. Winner Debbie Bryant.
Miss America pageant 1963. Miss America Jacquelyn Mayer.
Miss America 1962 Maria Fletcher.
Miss America Nancy Ann Fleming of Michigan. 1961.
Miss America 1960 Lynda Lee Mead reads the headline in the Atlantic City Press.
Miss America 1959 Mary Ann Mobley.
Miss America 1959 Mary Ann Mobley reading the Atlantic City Press.
Miss America 1951, Yolanda Betbeze of Mobile, Ala., waves after winning the Miss America title, Sept. 10, 1950 in Atlantic City, N.J. (AP Photo)
21-year-old Miss Memphis, Barbara Jo Walker, wins the Miss America crown on September 6, 1947. She was the last Miss America to be crowned in a swimsuit. Historical photo archive
Miss America pageant 1939. Miss America Patricia Donnelly.
Miss America 1939 Patricia Donnelly.
Miss America pageant 1936. Miss America Rose Coyle, of Philadelphia.
Miss America 1935 Henrietta Leaver of Pittsburgh.
Lois Delander, Miss America 1927 - Miss America photos from the collection of Allen "Boo" Pergament.
1923. Miss America 1924, Ruth Malcomson, poses with World Heavyweight Champion Jack Dempsey and Atlantic City Mayor Edward L. Bader, who served as the 29th mayor from 1920-1927. Historical photo archive
1923. Ruth Malcomson of Philadelphia eats her first breakfast as Miss America 1924 in Atlantic City. Historical photo archive
“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.