Former Miss Americas and state directors for the Miss America Organization will help select its new leadership after an email scandal rocked the pageant and led to the resignation of key leaders within the group.
Dan Meyers, the group’s interim board chairman, said in a statement to The Associated Press that the former Miss Americas and state directors will recommend four individuals to comprise a search committee, with the board choosing one former state title holder as the committee’s fifth member.
The committee, which will also include two board members, will decide what form the new leadership structure should take and, once those decisions have been made, select individuals to fill the roles.
“The board wanted to have a process that was unprecedented in terms of openness, transparency and inclusion,” Meyers said. “Given the turbulent nature of leadership transitions, asking all the stakeholders to be a part of this process was the best way.”
The committee “will begin their exhaustive search in a matter of days,” a statement from the board read.
The former Miss Americas and state directors that will participate have not been named. MAO hopes to have the nominations for committee members by Jan. 3.
MAO CEO and executive chairman Sam Haskell was suspended and then resigned after internal communications describing former Miss Americas in vulgar and derogatory language were brought to light.
In addition, board chair Lynn Weidner and COO and president Josh Randle stepped down, along with one other board member. Randle and Weidner’s resignations will become effective in a few weeks, leaving an additional two spots on the 14-member board — which already has two vacancies — to be filled.
Mallory Hagan, a former Miss America whose appearance and sex life was ridiculed in the emails, told the AP on Thursday that the offer to help find new members of the group’s board is insulting to anyone who ever competed or volunteered in the pageant.
She and other former Miss Americas are renewing their call for the entire board to step down.
“The statement from the remaining Miss America Board of Directors is an insult to every Miss America and volunteer’s intelligence,” she said. “Implying that the complicit members of the current board will now choose the new leadership for the forward movement of the Miss America Organization is laughable.”
“I will not stop until Miss America is led by the people who embody the morals and values that the organization holds dear,” Hagan added. “Whether they knew about these emails or not only confirms their inability to effectively lead this multi-million dollar nonprofit. If they truly care about the forward movement of the MAO, they should all step aside. Period.”