MAO Leadership Change Fund

$43,517 of $100,000 goal

Raised by 326 people in 11 months
For months, thousands of volunteers, sponsors, contestants, parents, and supports have voiced their opposition to the current leadership of the Miss America Organization. We do not protest because of change, we protest because there is a blatant lack of transparency, integrity, and good governance in those managing the organization. We have reviewed this matter with qualified legal counsel and will be filing a legal complaint with affected State Organizations advocating for a restoration of the values of Miss America very soon. The complaint will set out causes of action for bad faith and injunctive relief, among others. It is our hope that the collective efforts of the many stakeholders will save Miss America. #InvestInIntegrity #SaveMAO   Purpose of funding:  To support legal action on behalf of willing State Organizations; and then  To support necessary public relations services to help restore public trust and respect in the governance of the Miss America Organization.  We commit that the new leadership we seek will: Incorporate stakeholder groups as real and permanent partners in order to continue the progress and sustainability of the Miss America brand and values. These stakeholder groups include the Miss America Sisterhood, State Delegations (inclusive of Local volunteers), and MASTA.  Create and streamline the governance structure into a transparent system which integrates publicly recognized good governing practices in local, state, and the national level.  Review and amend all official documentation and contracts, striking any and all language that dictates that the involvement of individuals, State Organizations, and State Contestants, and Miss America can be amended “with or without cause.” Embrace changes needed to engage growth among participants, educational partners, sponsors, and volunteers without compromising stakeholders and the integrity of the organization. Market and promote the cause-oriented young women of the organization who are achieving educational and career successes while also delivering community impact.  Strive to create a nationally televised event which upholds the existing rules of competition so that all contestants and state licensees are aware of the competition elements at least 60 days prior to competition. Commit to providing participants the opportunity to showcase their talent, communication skills, style, and physical fitness during competitions at every level. Leverage any unused funds raised to support the goals and commitments as stated above. If for any reason, these goals cannot be met under the current Miss America Organization, these funds will go towards a new organization that will maintain all of the guarantees as previously stated.  There is no more time to waste! We need to act now to preserve our beloved organization and facilitate a fair and transparent transition to bring credible leadership which secure the continued success of the Miss America Organization. Please consider a donation (which can be anonymous) and help us exceed our goal! Together we can save Miss America! Thank you!
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Dear donors,

I know it has been many months since I have been able to fully share with transparency the progress of the case seeking a meaningful change in the leadership of MAO. Since the preliminary injunction hearing, both sides have put forth offers to settle, but in the end, I couldn't accept what MAO offered because I believed it did not include any proposed changes that would ultimately improve the short- and long-term health of the Organization.

In attempting to come to a resolution with MAO, I put forth a proposal that could have improved governance and transparency of the board and the treatment of the states and titleholders, especially Miss America. My proposal did not include changing the make-up of the board in any way, but instead was a series of suggestions to improve the Organization at every level through greater transparency and balanced collaboration with volunteers, state titleholders, and more. I asked MAO to consider amending the current Bylaws as well as the State and Miss America contracts so that fair dealings would be explicit and articulated in every way. While I believe my proposal gave MAO the opportunity to heal in the wake of serious discord and move forward in a positive way, it was summarily rejected.

At this juncture, I can do no more than what I've done. Continuing litigation will cost at least as much as we have already raised. In light of not having those funds available, I regretfully share that I have dismissed the case. The case was “dismissed without prejudice,” leaving open the opportunity for future litigation within the statute of limitations should the financial resources become available.

My decision also ensures that neither MAO nor other individuals at the top can silence me through onerous non-disparagement agreements, threats of future litigation, etc. At this time, however, I have nothing more to add to the facts than I've already stated here or in previous communications.

I continue to believe that this Organization is being led unethically using intimidation tactics, primarily to serve personal agendas, and by those without the business skills necessary to manage and improve the financial health of the Organization. I believe that it is antithetical to have an empowerment organization that dictates heavy-handed disparagement contractual language for its stakeholders. I believe there is no real understanding or compassion for the countless volunteers who have dedicated years of service, let alone continually investing in and celebrating the goals and achievements of the exceptional young women who participate.

I am proud that we have spoken truth to power and that anyone who chooses to become involved with this program will at least know the truth thanks to the actions we have brought forth. In the end, it is imperative that we preserve and defend our voices and our integrity --- that is true empowerment.

In full transparency, I want to share the breakdown of our funds and balance. With the latter I recommend that we donate to a scholarship fund even though initially we said left over funds would be used for a new organization. I put forth donating to MAOT or MAF, but I am open to suggestions.
Legal Expenses: $39,422 over 5 months for five plaintiffs
PR: $2750.00
Balance: $1345.00

If anyone has any questions about anything, please feel free to contact me at my email, jenvaden@gmail.com.

With gratitude,
Jennifer Vaden Barth
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PRESS RELEASE (For more PR information contact:
John Healy, healyj814@gmail.com)

Miss America Executives, Board of Trustees Sued by State Licensees For Illegal Acts in Governing the Nearly 100-year-old Institution

Additional details including evidence and witness statements expected in January

December 19, 2018 – Atlantic City, NJ – A former Board member of the Miss America
Organization (MAO), as well as four Miss America state licensees, filed suit today in Atlantic
County Superior Court, alleging that MAO executives acted illegally by ignoring the MAO
Bylaws and unlawfully taking control of MAO and, as such, the present Board lacks the legal
authority to act on behalf of MAO.
The move comes on the heels of an embittered battle that dates back to early 2018 to
wrestle control of MAO from Chair Gretchen Carlson, a former Miss America, and CEO Regina
Hopper, a former Miss Arkansas. Both women, as well as the current MAO Board, are named as
defendants in the suit.
The lawsuit requests a Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction to maintain the
“status quo” as it existed prior to a thwarted Board vote in June 2018 aimed at limiting Carlson’s
authority as Chair and her subsequent illegal unseating of two Board members, until the Court
can determine the veracity and merits of the Complaint.
The states that have had their licenses officially revoked include Georgia, West Virginia,
Pennsylvania, and Tennessee, as well as New Jersey, Florida and New York. Colorado resigned
its license agreement shortly after the September 9 telecast.
The nearly year-long battle for control of MAO has had deleterious consequences. Since the
effort to unseat Hopper and Carlson began, MAO has seen resignations by more than a dozen
staff, Board and Foundation members, suspended or terminated seven state licenses, had
one state resign its license, and had scores of volunteers state that they do not support the
current leadership and are leaving the Miss America system because they believe the
Organization no longer supports its primary mission: providing scholarships to young women at
the local, state and national level. Incredibly, as of today, 46 state pageant licensees have called
for the resignations and 23,509 stakeholders have signed a petition initiated by 23 former Miss
America’s calling for the resignations of Carlson, Hopper and the Board of Trustees.1
“MAO leadership misled thousands of Miss America volunteers and titleholders, as well as
the American people who have followed this competition for decades,” said ousted Board
member and former Miss North Carolina Jennifer Vaden Barth. “In doing so, they have
characterized anyone who opposes their decisions and those who are resistant to national
Pageant changes, primarily the elimination of the iconic swimsuit competition, as
troublemakers and a ‘noisy minority.’ This could not be any farther from the truth.”


1 https://www.change.org/p/statelicensees1-gmail-com-miss-america-needs-you

The plaintiffs argue that the MAO leadership is guilty of mismanaging financial resources;
misleading MAO officials about the future of the telecast, its primary source of revenue and
greatest PR vehicle; disseminating blatant mistruths especially where state pageant
officials and contestants were concerned; manipulating the rules, disregarding established law
and ignoring the Organization’s Bylaws to suit their own personal purposes; and lacking fair
dealing and transparency in managing the 501(c)(4) nonprofit.
The 35-page lawsuit (available at https://tinyurl.com/ligtigation-documents) states that “Carlson
used the rules when it [was] convenient, and ignored them when it [was] an impediment.”
Supporters of the Miss America system say that since Carlson became Board Chair in early
2018, anyone in a position of authority who opposed Carlson’s decisions was removed from their
positions or illegally forced to resign.
In response to the groundswell of support from the dissenters, Carlson used her illegally
obtained Chairmanship to reconfigure the national Board of Trustees, appointing those who
would support her decisions to remake the decades-long Pageant telecast (September 9,
2018 on ABC), in favor of those consistent with her own personal brand and agenda. The
2018 Pageant telecast earned its lowest ratings since Miss America Lee Meriwether was
crowned on live TV in September 1954.
“This is the first step in restoring the integrity and credibility of Miss America, which has
been a cultural icon since 1921,” said Barth, who indicated that further details, evidence and
documentation about the legal action would be forthcoming in January 2019.
Arguing the case for the plaintiffs is Paul Perkins, Esq., a skilled litigator, licensed to practice
law in both New Jersey and New York. Mr. Perkins represents a variety of clientele from
small business owners, nonprofits, individuals, and large corporations doing business
internationally. He successfully served as Executive Director for a prominent nonprofit, and
today represents several philanthropic organizations in a legal capacity. Mr. Perkins is
expected to be joined by co-counsel Emily C. Ward, Esq., a former state titleholder in the Miss
America system, as another experienced litigator who represents individual and corporate
civil plaintiffs and white-collar defendants in Georgia.

Finally, a message from the organizers of the GoFundMe campaign:
We have surpassed the $41,000 mark in our effort to raise funds to defray the costs involved
in changing the MAO Leadership, and we sincerely thank those who have contributed! Check
out the latest details by clicking on this GoFundMe link. All donations are anonymous to
protect the integrity of all supporters. In addition to legal and other costs at the national
level, the Fund will help advocate and support ANY State that is in need. Please
email jenvaden@gmail.com with questions or further information. We cannot do this
without you. And if you cannot afford to contribute, please help us spread the word.
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Hello MAO community,
We are working diligently on securing all evidential facts in order to file legal action very soon. Thank you for your patience as well as your generosity so far. Our fund has not grown in recent weeks and therefore we come to you again to ask for any donation you can make as we are exhausting our funds for legal preparation and action.

With #GivingTuesday upon us, we wanted to ask for any donation you can spare! For those that would like to receive a postcard, please contact Jennifer Vaden Barth with your mailing address in the comments! Remember to make your donation anonymous.

Thank you and together remember, we CAN #SaveMissAmerica
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With over $36K raised we are moving ahead and our reached our matching goal so more to come!

In the past three weeks, legal counsel has been secured and letters have been sent to MAO detailing the infractions and illegal action the current Board of Trustees has taken, including exercising power for which it lacks legal foundation, lacking authority to send purported termination notices to States, and as well the current illegal Board of Trustees violating the By-Laws of MAO and failing to abide by the New Jersey Nonprofit Corporation Act. MAO's attempted "Notice of Termination" fails to set forth the default under which MAO purports to terminate; and this as well was a failure for all of the letters warning of probation, though those States are not currently represented by legal Counsel supported by the GoFundMe campaign.

MAO has been advised that any communications with States who are under counsel representation must go through said counsel and cannot be communicated directly to any volunteer (Local or State) or a representative thereof including local and state titleholders.

We will continue to work in order to bring better governance and stability to the Miss America nonprofit organization and its grassroots community.
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$43,517 of $100,000 goal

Raised by 326 people in 11 months
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