Gretchen Carlson takes reins of Miss America Organization

The Miss America Organization Board of Directors announced Monday in a press release the election of Gretchen Carlson, Miss America 1989, as the organization’s new chairman effective immediately.

Also effective immediately, the board approved the addition of Laura Kaeppeler Fleiss, Miss America 2012, Heather French Henry, Miss America 2000, and Kate Shindle, Miss America 1998 to the Board as Directors.

Most previously serving directors have resigned from the board.

According to Dan Meyers, the interim board chairman, resignations from the Board were timed to ensure the organization had a continuing governance structure. “It has been important to the Directors that incoming leadership be provided with what it needs to drive this American icon in a new direction.” said Meyers.

The resignations follow hard upon the organization of a petition by Miss America 2013 Mallory Hagan pressing the point that the board resign following the scandal surrounding former CEO Sam Haskell.

A story in the Huffington Post detailed private emails from Haskell disparaging previous Miss Americas and singling out Hagan for criticism about her appearance and her sex life.

Before the petition closed, over 18,000 people signed.

Incoming chairman Gretchen Carlson thanked the Board of Directors for their personal and financial support to the organization over many years. Carlson said in the press release, “Everyone has been stunned by the events of the last several days, and this has not been easy for anyone who loves this program. In the end, we all want a strong, relevant Miss America and we appreciate the existing board taking the steps necessary to quickly begin stabilizing the organization for the future.”

She added, according to the press release, she wanted to personally thank Meyers for facilitating the transfer of the organization’s leadership.

The press release reported Carlson further stated that she and the new board would immediately work with all Miss America stakeholders, including the organization’s state executive directors and former state titleholders, to continue an ongoing inclusive and transparent process to identify additional new board members and management.

She added, the press release said, that the new board also looks forward to working with the organization’s many sponsors, seeking input while creating a viable, forward-looking Miss America Organization for this and future generations of young women.