During this time of national protest and unrest, many participants and volunteers within our organization have reached out to MAO to express their thoughts and feelings regarding the ongoing conversation around racial justice and MAO’s role in it. We have heard you and we are committed to further action.
As many of you know, a few years ago MAO formed a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) task force led by Miss America 1990 Debbye Turner Bell. A few weeks ago, the Miss America Organization put out the ask to Current Titleholders, Forever Miss Americas, Miss America State Titleholder Association, Executive Directors, and Volunteers to gauge their willingness to form a new committee with renewed focus. We are grateful that 68 women and men from across the country expressed interest in being a part of the forward movement of Miss America.
Given the current makeup of the Miss America Board of Directors and staff, we felt that it was appropriate to have an outside Selection Committee take on this important task. Below are the professionals who volunteered their time and energy to MAO:
Samantha M. Fennell
Samantha is the founder of HONE, a New York-based business development consultancy that helps purpose-driven organizations in three key areas: revenue growth, strategy, D&I sales talent, and strategic partnerships. Her clients include media enterprises, advertising agencies, B Corps, and e-commerce platforms who share her passion for driving societal transformation through corporate action and social change.
Samantha has held senior-level and management positions at both major media companies and start-up ventures. From a nearly decade-long stint at Condé Nast where she rose to become the first African American Advertising Director of Vogue, to growing an international advertising agency and building a digital division from the ground up, Samantha has achieved many “firsts” in her 20+ year career and continues to push boundaries.
Samantha launched an online publication this year- A Blessing of Unicorns- a repository of inclusive insights that seeks to dispel the myth of scarcity of outstanding BIPOC and change the world for the next generation.
Brian has over 14 years of experience in the advertising, marketing, and media industries. In his current role, Brian leads Publicis Media’s US Talent Inclusion practice across its six brands – Starcom, Zenith, Spark Foundry, Blue449, Digitas, and Performics. Brian leads internal inclusion programs including the Publicis Media Multicultural Talent Pipeline and the agency’s Inclusion Council. He also serves as a mentor and coach to the company’s business resource groups (BRGs) and drives awareness of professional development experiences.
He is a member of Publicis Groupe’s Talent Engagement & Inclusion Council, a board member for the American Association of Advertising Agencies Diversity & Inclusion Steering Committee, Do The WeRQ, and the T Howard Foundation. He is a recipient of the 2018 Leadership Excellence Award by the Tri-State National Diversity Council
Jason Bryan is an Associate Clinical Professor in Educational Leadership at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama for the past 4 years, and is now serving as the director of the Truman Peirce Institute with the College of Education at Auburn. Jason spent 17 years in public K-12 schools serving as a science teacher, high school assistant principal, middle school principal, and high school principal.
Linda Karbo serves as Marketing Brand Manager for Residence Education and Housing Services (REHS) at Michigan State University where she is responsible for strategic marketing initiatives & brand oversight of both REHS and the MSU Union. She is proud to be part of the task force that has advanced the “Hate Has No Home Here” and “You Have a Home Here” initiatives at MSU, which pledge and promise to foster a diverse, inclusive, equitable, and safe environment for all within the Spartan community.
Prior to joining the REHS team, Linda served as Assistant Director of Alumni Relations and Special Events for the MSU College of Arts and Letters for six years and the Assistant Director of Development for the MSU College of Music for three years.
Linda is passionate about relationship building, empathetic listening, mentoring, bridging connections, and the art of the written word. She always has her eye out for a quality life hack or budding trend, and sincerely appreciates good manners and a can-do attitude. Linda describes herself as a realist with a very real layer of imagination mixed in and believes that integrity with a side of empathy is key.
Jennifer Munger is a former elementary school principal and special education teacher. Jennifer’s experiences showed her the importance of every child having an effective teacher, especially students struggling academically and/or engaging in challenging behavior impacting their learning. She is currently an instructor in the area of special education at Dakota State University. Jennifer helps preservice teachers and strives to teach effectiveness by developing awareness and understanding of the students that will be entering their classrooms, leading them to better research-based instructional and behavioral tools and strategies.
Abby Charles is a Program Director at the Institute for Public Health Innovation (IPHI), The public health institute for Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia. At IPHI she provides leadership and coordination for the Community Health Worker Initiatives and provides oversight to a network of Community Health Workers and a portfolio of programs in which the Institute for Public Health Innovation addresses cross-jurisdictional policymaking and information sharing, program refinement, policy, research, training, implementation, evaluation, and technical assistance.
Abby is one of IPHI’s lead trainers and provides technical assistance to organizations regionally and nationally on health and racial equity, collaboration & partnership development, community health workers, health in all policies, women’s health, gender-based violence, and HIV.
Abby is an Adjunct Instructor of Clinical Research and Leadership at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. She is also a graduate of the George Washington University with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and a Master of Public Health in Global Health Promotion. She presently serves on the board of The Well Project, the Bishop Anstey High School Alumnae Association of Washington, DC and serves as a Commissioner on the Mayor’s Advisory Commission on Caribbean Community Affairs for Washington, DC.