Miss America Organization leaders step down following email controversy
Three leaders of the Miss America Organization are stepping down following allegations they shamed former pageant winners in e-mails.
Four Miss America Organization leaders have resigned after a total of 56 former Miss Americas called for them step down after a leaked email scandal .
The backlash started after emails surfaced in which Miss America CEO Sam Haskell insulted several Miss America contestants, referencing their weight, their purported sex lives, and using misogynistic language. Haskell, along with COO Josh Randle, board chair Lynn Weidner, and board member Tammy Haddad, all resigned.
Former Miss America and Miss Hawaii Angela Baraquio said that all the former Miss Americas are part of a sisterhood, and they immediately sprung into action once news of the emails broke.
"We've all been on chains and messages," she said by phone from California. "Every single one of us who signed that petition has been part of an email chain, or text chain, to say what are we going to do moving forward. We can't just sit silent. What are we going to do about this organization that we love? There's no way that you can just be quiet when you're talking about a women's empowerment organization."
Baraquio said she was shocked when she read the emails because Haskell was always cordial to her, but there was no denying the communications were unacceptable once she saw them in black and white.
"As a school principal and a mother of five children, I have zero tolerance for bullying at my school. Why would I have it in this organization that I love so deeply," she said.
Baraquio said that there's still a board in place that knew about the emails and did nothing. The questions remain: Who else from the board will step down and who will the new leadership be?
Ryan Brown, executive director of the Miss Hawaii pageant, said he believes we will see many more board members transition out as the Miss America Organization overhauls its brand. He also said that the public should not let these disgraced individuals overshadow all the good that come out of the Miss America program.
"This experience has really shined a light on a group of individuals," he said by phone from Kauai. "their terrible lack of judgment and egregious behavior. But the reality is tens of thousands of dollars is made available on the state level, hundreds of thousands on the national level, and the number one scholarship donor to women between 17 and 24 in the world."
Both Baraquio and Brown said that former Miss America and Fox News host Gretchen Carlson would make a great new leader for the organization. Baraquio noted that Carlson is a fierce advocate for women and was brave enough to go after her boss Roger Ailes and won a settlement against him.
But, ultimately, it remains to be seen who will be part of the new leadership.