Miss America Organization Bounces Back With All-Women Leadership Team

Months after the organization was roiled by an email scandal, the organization that puts on the iconic pageant brought multiple Miss America winners onto its leadership team this week.

Months after a leadership controversy that went all the way to the top of the C-suite, the Miss America Organization (MAO) has come out on the other side with something it’s never had before: A leadership team that’s made up entirely of women.

This week, MAO announced a new CEO, Rejina Hopper, and a new board chair for the Miss America Foundation, Marjorie Vincent-Tripp. Like former Fox News personality Gretchen Carlson, who was previously announced as the chair of MAO’s board last year, both are former winners of the organization’s namesake pageant.

Each also comes with a sizable amount of leadership experience, with Hopper (Miss America 1983) having executive experience at a number of trade groups, including the Intelligent Transportation Society of America, where she served as president and CEO. Vincent-Tripp (Miss America 1991), meanwhile, currently serves as Florida’s assistant attorney general.

The new leadership team allows the organization to reinforce its strengths and recalibrate after multiple MAO leaders, including CEO Sam Haskell and board chair Lynn Weidner, resigned after The Huffington Post reported that employees of the organization made disparaging comments about former winners—in some cases, apparently condoned by Haskell. The controversy, coming in the midst of the #MeToo movement, led 49 former Miss America winners to call for his resignation.

Carlson, whose harassment allegations against longtime Fox News CEO Roger Ailes helped lead to his ouster, was installed as board chair in direct response to the scandal at MAO. Now the nonprofit organization is moving forward to turn the lessons from the incident into something positive.

“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 organization said in a news release.

The changes to MAO’s leadership come at a time when its namesake event nears the century mark. The pageant was first held in 1921 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

“We 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,” Hopper emphasized in a statement.

A scene from the 2018 Miss America Competition Show, held last September in Atlantic City, New Jersey. (Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Dick Clark Productions)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!