Gretchen Carlson has stepped down as board chairman of the Miss America Organization just over a year after taking the reins.
“When I was asked to take this volunteer position over a year ago, I dedicated myself to helping the organization build on its history while working to secure its future, and am extremely proud of the work we have collectively done,” Carlson said in a statement on Wednesday. “With a promising network partnership, the time is ideal to give new leadership the opportunity to move forward with what has been accomplished. Miss America will always be a part of who I am and I will enthusiastically watch as the organization continues to grow and succeed.”
Carlson, who won the Miss America pageant in 1989, was elected chair of the organization in 2018. During her brief tenure, she has led efforts to update the pageant’s traditions, including the recent eliminations of the swimsuit and evening gown portions.
“We are grateful for the talents, expertise and time Gretchen gave to move this organization to relevancy, diversity and inclusion for a new generation of young women,” Miss America CEO Regina Hopper said. “We are thrilled she will continue to move this transition forward as an adviser to the board as we work toward a successful Miss America 2020 on NBC, and the 100th anniversary of this American icon in 2021.”
Carlson and Hopper’s leadership came under fire last fall when then-titleholder Cara Mund accused the organization of what she said amounted to bullying behavior. Mund was backed by a group of 19 former Miss America winners who asked that the board of trustees, Carlson and Hopper step down in an open letter. Carlson denied the accusations and said at the time that she would not step down.
She will be replaced by Shantel Krebs. Brenda Keith will be vice chair.