Here they come, Miss America’s female leadership.
For the first time in the pageant’s history the two branches of the organization — the pageant and the foundation — will be led entirely by women, who also happen to be former Miss Americas.
“The induction of this all female leadership team signals forthcoming transformational changes to the entire organization and program, ushering in a new era of progressiveness, inclusiveness and empowerment,” the group said in a statement Thursday.
Regina Hopper, formerly at the helm of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America has been appointed president and CEO of the Miss America Organization. Marjorie Vincent-Tripp, an attorney, is the new chair of the Board of Trustees of Miss America Foundation, effective immediately.
Earlier this year former Fox News host, Gretchen Carlson, became the first former Miss America to be named chair of the board of trustees of the Miss America Organization.
The appointment of the women follows a period of turmoil for the two entities after top leadership members resigned amid an email scandal in December. An investigation by HuffPost unearthed three years worth of emails in which several high-ranking officials exchanged denigrating messages about the sex lives, weight gain, and intellect of past Miss Americas. Among those involved were CEO Sam Haskell, board chair Lynn Weidner, and President Josh Randle, all of whom stepped down from the organization.
Haskell had led the organization for a decade and is credited with reviving what had become an irrelevant competition. But despite the commercial turnaround, Haskell was quickly criticized for his words by board members and 49 former pageant winners, who called for his resignation before Haskell quit.
In one instance, as HuffPost reported:
“In late August 2014, the CEO of the Miss America Organization, Sam Haskell, sent an email to the lead writer of the Miss America pageant telecast, Lewis Friedman, informing him of a change he wanted to make in the script: ‘I have decided that when referring to a woman who was once Miss America, we are no longer going to call them Forever Miss Americas….please change all script copy to reflect that they are Former Miss Americas!’
“Friedman replied, ‘I’d already changed “Forevers” to “C****.” Does that work for you?’
“Haskell’s short reply came quickly: ‘Perfect…bahahaha.'”
Haskell later offered a semi-apology for “a mistake of words” in a statement, but also said, “Much of what was reported is dishonest, deceptive, and despicable.”
“Miss America is at an incredibly important juncture in its history,” Hopper said in the statement, adding that the new leaders “all care deeply about this program and, as we move toward the 100th anniversary, are working toward a renewed relevancy for the program so more young women will see Miss America as a path through which they can succeed and grow.”