In an open letter to past pageant winners, Miss America 2018 Cara Mund said she’s been silenced and bullied by the organization’s current leadership, including being punished after a recent interview with The Press of Atlantic City.
Mund’s letter was sent to several former Miss Americas, including Suzette Charles, who confirmed the letter Friday morning.
“The Miss America Organization supports Cara. It is disappointing that she chose to air her grievances publicly not privately,” said a statement The Miss America Organization released in response. “Her letter contains mischaracterizations and many unfounded accusations. We are reaching out to her privately to address her concerns.”
In her letter, Mund explains how she feels marginalized in the months since former Miss America 1989 Gretchen Carlson and Regina Hopper took positions as chair of the board of trustees and president and CEO, respectively.
Earlier this month, Mund spoke candidly with The Press of Atlantic City, explaining her reigning year has been overshadowed by the new leadership of Miss America Organization.
“I truly felt more valued, respected and viewed as a real collaborator within my first three months rather that these last eight months,” Mund said in the letter. “I strongly believe my voice is not heard nor wanted by our current leadership; nor do they have any interest in knowing who I am and how my experiences related to positioning the organization for the future.”
Mund graduated from Brown University in May 2016 with a degree in business, entrepreneurship and organizations. In the letter, she said she is the only person involved with the Miss America national office with a degree specifically for nonprofit organizations.
“No one needs to remind me that being Miss America is a job. I have known that and prepared myself to be the spokesperson for this organization with every single thing I have done and every experience I have had,” she said.
Mund said she was not involved in major media interviews, including the Miss America 2.0 announcement made by Carlson on “Good Morning America” on June 8. She claimed she was told she was “bad at social media,” contributing to lost sponsorships, and was no longer allowed to use official Miss America social media accounts.
“Right away, the new leadership delivered an important message: there will only be one Miss America at a time, and she isn’t me,” Mund wrote in the letter.
The letter also recounts an experience during the Miss America 2019 orientation in July, where she was told “go stand in the back of the room and not say anything” by MAO leadership before a meeting with the next class of Miss America contestants.
Mund’s treatment throughout the year, as well as lack of openness and transparency with the organization during the recent changes, has been the subject of several open letters and online petitions created by 13 former Miss Americas and 19 state pageant representatives. Mund explained how she was “not respected enough” to be told the official date of this year’s Miss America Competition, the day her “Year of Service” would end.
“I found out on Twitter,” she wrote.
Within 72 hours of the publication of The Press of Atlantic City story, Mund was told her final farewell as Miss America would be cut to a total of 30 seconds for the national telecast and a sponsored, designer costume for the “Show Us Your Shoes” would no longer be allowed.
“I haven’t felt like Miss America for the last eight months, and now, they are even taking away my goodbye,” she wrote.
The hashtag #StandWithCara began appearing in social media posts from former Miss Americas, current local titleholders and pageant supporters.
Miss America 2019 will be crowned at Boardwalk Hall on Sept. 9.
“I want her year to be better than my year,” Mund wrote. “If you want Miss America to be relevant, then the leadership needs to understand she is not a wind-up toy who they can power up to spit out the meaningless words that are put into her mouth, then put back on the shelf until it’s time to do it again.”