The Miss America Organization announced Friday another change to the board of trustees, as two former state titleholders resign.
Less than six months after establishing a board of directors comprised of former Miss Americas, state titleholders and state executive directors, the Miss America Organization made changes to the annually televised scholarship competition, eliminating the swimsuit competition, with the hopes of re-branding Miss America. As "Miss America 2.0" has been launched, three new board members have been elected.
Dr. Shelley Robertson, author Mary Jane Clark and Dr. Debbye Turner Bell were announced as the newly elected members of the Miss America Organization's board or trustees. Robertson and Clark are the first two directors brought on since the beginning of the year from outside of the organization. Turner Bell, former Miss America 1990, joins the board, led by the woman who crowned her Miss America, MAO chairwoman Gretchen Carlson.
The new board members have had extensive careers in journalism, corporate business and non-profit governance.
"I am thrilled that Shelley, Mary Jane and Debbye are joining us to execute on the mission of Miss America, preparing great women for the world and preparing the world for great women," Carlson said in a news release.
Jennifer Vaden Barth and Valerie Crooker Clemens resigned from the Board of Trustees last week and were removed from the Miss America website's Board of Directors page. Both were former state titleholders and were elected to the board in February.
In December 2017, emails between former CEO and chairman Sam Haskell and members of the Miss America board that taunted, body-shamed and used vulgar language to talk about past Miss Americas were released. A collective of former Miss Americas and state titleholders called for their immediate resignations. At the beginning of the year, Carlson was announced to the organization's leadership. Several changes to bylaws were voted on and created and the nine member board of trustees was established.
According to Miss America Organization President and CEO Regina Hopper, the board positions held by the two Miss America State Titleholder Association representatives were "interim in nature", after helping to establish new changes to the national competition.
"The two MASTA board members were brought on to help in the re-envision and re-branding. Once that was done board determined process, those people would step aside," said Hopper.
At the beginning of the year, the Miss America Organization consulted several marketing firms, as well as their own "stakeholders" on how to modernize the nearly 100-year-old pageant. The stakeholders include former Miss America, former state titleholders and state competition organizers. The MAO consistently emphasized the importance of having women who directly benefited from the competitions contributing to the changes.
"The insights provided by the two interim MASTA representatives was vital in making sure this stakeholder group had a voice in the mission and vision for Miss America 2.0. Now that this work is complete, they will be relinquishing those seats. I hope you will join me in thanking Jennifer Vaden Barth and Valerie Crooker Clemens, for their service to this organization" Carlson said in a statement. Barth and Clemens will continue to serve as liaisons to the board to assist with this year's competition.
The two board positions held by former state executive directors Ashley Bird and Jessie Ward Bennett are also interim positions, but they will retain their positions until changes to the state competitions under the new organization guidelines are finalized.
Hopper also said the MAO Board of Trustees is functioning as a member organization and can review the at the end of their fiscal year in March.
The Miss America Organization hopes to introduce the new competition guidelines at the Miss America 2019 contestant orientation in July. Miss America 2019 will be held in Atlantic City and broadcast on ABC networks on Sept 9, 2018.
Source: Press of Atlantic City, 6/25/2018
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