In an explosive and emotional letter, current Miss America Cara Mund tells a story of bullying, intimidation, vindictiveness and other actions that she lays at the feet of the leaders of the Miss America organization.
The Miss America organization is already in chaos as former Miss Americas and others are at odds with Gretchen Carlson,chairman of the Miss America Board of Trustees, and Regina Hopper, CEO of the Miss America organization.
Issues include the voice and direction of the organization, communication problems and elimination of the swimsuit and evening gown portions of the annual pageant.
North Dakota’s Cara Mund penned a five page letter Thursday to former Miss Americas, outlining the troubles and conflicts she’s had with the Miss America organization since she won the title last year.
“The rhetoric about empowering women, and openness and transparency, is great; however, the reality is quite different. I am living that difference,” Mund writes. “To stay silent is to give away my power and the power of the women who will follow me. I am not comfortable with any of us being controlled, manipulated, silenced, or bullied.”
Mund said when she became Miss America, she looked forward to using her voice and being an example of an empowered young woman of her generation.
For the first three months, she felt that was the case.
But then,controversy at the Miss America leadership level forced a change in virtually all top level management positions. It was at that time that Gretchen Carlson, Regina Hopper and others took over as the organization’s new leadership.
Since that change, Mund writes, the next eight months became problematic.
“Let me be blunt: I strongly believe that 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 relate to positioning the organization for the future.”
“Our chair and CEO have systematically silenced me, reduced me, marginalized me, and essentially erased me in my role as Miss America in subtle and not-so-subtle ways on a daily basis. After a while, the patterns have clearly emerged, and the sheer accumulation of the disrespect, passive-aggressive behavior, belittlement and outright exclusion has taken a serious toll.”
Mund says, shortly after the new board took over, she was given three talking points that she was required to use at every appearance and on which she would be critiqued: Miss America is relevant; The #MeToo movement started with Gretchen Carlson, a former Miss America; and, Gretchen Carlson went to Stanford University.
Mund says she was told it was her fault sponsors have dropped from the Miss America Organization because she was “bad at social media.”
She says she is no longer allowed to post or engage with followers on the official Miss America social media accounts and that posts are made by the organization in her name.
Mund documents numerous instances of what she feels is workplace harassment and bullying.
“I don’t want to leave this mess for the next Miss America,” Mund writes. “This letter is for her. I don’t want her to have to live in constant fear, expecting to be degraded and punished while she should be having an amazing experience.”
You can read and download the complete letter here.