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ND's former Miss America supports first step in leadership change in national organization

Then-South Dakota Secretary of State Shantel Krebs talks to a crowd on at Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell. Krebs was named chair of the Miss America organization this week. Forum News Service file photo1 / 3
Miss America 2018 Cara Mund is shown in this file photo at a press conference during her reign. Mund responded to recent news that Gretchen Carlson, with whom Mund publicly feuded with at the conclusion on her reign, had resigned her post as the head of the national Miss America Organization. Forum file photo2 / 3
Miss America 2018 Cara Mund, from North Dakota, reacts after she was crowned at Boardwalk Hall Sept. 10, 2017, in Atlantic City. Thomas P. Costello/Asbury Park Press via USA TODAY NETWORK3 / 3

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Former Miss America Cara Mund, who was North Dakota's first national crown winner, said in a tweet last week that she fully supported Gretchen Carlson's decision to resign as board chairwoman of the Miss America Organization.

Carlson, a former Miss America from Minnesota, was criticized in a five-page letter by Mund in 2018 during the last few weeks of the North Dakota woman's reign as were other leaders in the national organization for having "no interest in knowing who I am and how my experiences relate to positioning the organization for the future."

The Bismarck native's letter said Carlson and CEO Regina Hopper "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."

She said in the letter that Carlson, the 1989 Miss America, had become the sole figure for major press interviews.

In addition, Mund said she was told she needed to mention three things at every interview: Carlson started the #MeToo movement; Carlson went to Stanford University and Miss America remains relevant.

Carlson responded to Mund's claims in the letter in August of 2018 with a Twitter statement, saying she took the post of chair with "some trepidation" last year as the Miss America Organization dealt with the fallout of an email scandal in which male leaders insulted former Miss Americas, denigrating their appearance, intelligence and their sex lives.

Carlson, who had just taken over the leadership role in January of 2018, also said it seemed the group was heading in the right direction, citing the elimination of the swimsuit competition, which is why she was "surprised and saddened beyond words" by Mund's letter.

Carlson said the organization was "very proud" of Mund and her accomplishments, but she also denied accusations of bullying or silencing. The statement said blowback from Mund's letter cost the organization $75,000 in scholarships and would likely have other consequences.

Mund, whom couldn't be reach for comment about this story, also said in her tweet last week after Carlson's resignation that she was looking "forward to seeing the Miss America organization continue to show women the power of their own voice as it approaches the 100th anniversary."

She also said, "although this is just one step towards a greater change, it’s a step. A step that matters."

Carlson will be replaced by Shantel Krebs, the former South Dakota secretary of state and state legislator, who ran unsuccessfully last year in the Republican primary for the state's only U.S. House seat. Krebs was Miss South Dakota in 1997 and has been on the Miss America board.

The location of this year's pageant, in its 97th year, still has not been determined.

Mund is expected to attend this year's Miss North Dakota pageant in Williston that starts Wednesday and runs through Saturday.