The Miss America Organization announced Tuesday night that President and CEO Regina Hopper — one of the guiding forces behind the competition’s swimsuit-less, “2.0” rebranding — has left the organization.
According to a statement, the organization’s board Chairwoman Shantel Krebs will assume leadership responsibilities on an interim basis as the board begins a search for a new president and CEO.
Krebs is a former South Dakota secretary of state and was Miss South Dakota 1997.
“We are grateful for Regina’s time, energy and commitment over the past two years, and thank her for her service to the progress of the Miss America Organization,” the statement reads. “The board and staff will strive to make the year of celebration surrounding the 100th anniversary of our program one for the books.”
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Hopper said in a statement to The Press of Atlantic City that she formally notified the MAO Board of Directors nearly two weeks ago that she was presented with a new opportunity to return full time to a job involving transportation. Before her time with the MAO, Hopper was the president and CEO of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America.
“I am grateful for the Miss America Organization’s Board of Directors’ recognition of my work over the last two years as the president and CEO of the Miss America Organization, which I held in a volunteer, unpaid capacity,” Hopper said. “I am proud of the progress that has (been) made over the last two years to advance scholarship and service opportunities for women while promoting the importance of inclusivity and diversity.”
Hopper became president and CEO of the Miss America Organization in May 2018 as part of a series of changes that came about after an email scandal in December 2017.
Hopper, who was Miss Arkansas 1983, assumed her dual role at the same time that Miss America 1989 Gretchen Carlson became chairwoman of the MAO board.
Carlson stepped down as chairwoman in June 2019.
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Hopper was appointed almost six months after the release of emails by former Miss America CEO and Executive Chairman Sam Haskell and board members and employees that used crude and vulgar language to describe past contestants’ weight and sexual history. The emails also revealed efforts by the Haskell-led board to sabotage several former Miss Americas’ post-pageant careers.
Hopper and Carlson were the driving forces behind the rebranding of the pageant dubbed “Miss America 2.0,” which included, among other things, the elimination of the swimsuit and evening gown portions of the competition.
“It’s not really a rebuild but a rebranding of Miss America and making the organization relevant,” Hopper said at the time of her appointment. “The most important message from today’s announcement is that the Miss America stakeholders, as well as the current young women in the program and those young women interested in the program, will see Miss America as something that they want to be a part of.”
Some of the changes overseen by Hopper and Carlson were not well-received by Miss America traditionalists. Shortly after they took control of the organization in 2018, that year’s Miss America, Cara Mund, told The Press and wrote in an open letter to past pageant winners that she had been silenced and bullied by the organization’s leadership.
In her letter, Mund explained how she felt marginalized in the months since Carlson and Hopper took over.
Mund said Tuesday night she fully supports the decision to conduct a nationwide search for a new CEO.
“The Miss America Organization taught me the power of my voice. I applaud the board for implementing this change,” said Mund, a law student at Georgetown University. “Although this is just one step in the right direction, today’s announcement is proof that the truth will always prevail.”
MAO moved the 2020 competition out of Atlantic City in 2019 after failing to get financial assistance from either the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, as it had in the past, or from individual casinos. The CRDA had given the MAO about $4 million a year over the past several years.
The competition was held Dec. 19 at the Mohegan Sun Casino & Resort in Uncasville, Connecticut, where Miss Virginia Camille Schrier was crowned.
Lauren Carroll contributed to this report.
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