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The 2000s - Decade in ReviewThe new millennium brought many exciting challenges and fresh changes to The Miss America Organization. The scholarship foundation continued to grow, and more and more individuals began to recognize the importance of the countless community service hours the contestants offered their communities. The departure of network television's control enabled the pageant to reassess itself, and gain strength to chart its own course and on its own terms. In conjunction with CMT and ultimately, TLC, the Organization was fortunate to align itself with new network partners who understood the intrinsic value of this institution while making it more relatable to young women across America.
The 80th anniversary pageant. For the first time, the pageant was held in October rather than September. Heather Renee French, Miss America 2000, became the first Miss America to win the Miss America Organization's Woman of Achievement award for her outstanding contributions to our nation's homeless veterans.
Angela Perez Baraquio, Miss Hawaii, was crowned Miss America 2001.
She was the first Asian-American, and the first teacher to win the title. She dedicated her reign to the importance of Character Education in our nation's schools. Robert M. Renneisen served the first of his two years as CEO/President of The Miss America Organization. Nearly 35 million dollars was made available to contestants on the local, state and national levels. To date, the Miss America Organization had offered over 200 million dollars in educational assistance to outstanding young women since 1945.
The 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. sent the nation into mourning. A decision had to be made on whether or not the pageant should be postponed. The vote was given to the contestants who were already assembled for the national finals, and they voted to continue onward in order to demonstrate our nation's resilience. With actor Tony Danza serving as the Host, Katie Marie Harman, Miss Oregon, became the Northwest's first Miss America (2002), dedicating her year to Breast Cancer Awareness. National scholarship awards increase to over 40 million dollars.
Erika Harold, Miss Illinois, is crowned Miss America 2003. She dedicates her year to Empowering Youth Against Violence. George F. Bauer serves the first of his two year term as Interim President/CEO of The Miss America Organization. Popular television star Wayne Brady serves as the first African-American Host of The Miss America telecast.
Ericka Yolanda Dunlap, Miss Florida, captures the crown of Miss America 2004, and kicks-off her platform of Celebrating Cultural Diversity and Inclusiveness at the Statue of Liberty. The scholarship foundation on the local, state and national levels is raised to over $45 million dollars annually.
Casual Wear Competition is added to the judging criteria and lasts two years. Dancing with the Stars host, Tom Bergeron, serves as the Host while popular American Idol contestant, Clay Aiken makes a special appearance.
The pageant celebrates 50 years on television. Chris Harrison serves as Host. Aspiring medical doctor Deidre Downs - Miss Alabama, wins the title Miss America 2005. Art McMaster is named President/CEO of The Miss America Organization. Donna Axum-Whitworth (Miss America 1964) becomes the first Miss America elected into the Miss America Organization's Board of Directors; she is soon followed by Phyllis George, Miss America 1971. Kinila Callendar becomes the first Miss U.S. Virgin Islands to compete for the national crown.
A sister company to the Miss America Organization, Miss America's Outstanding Teen makes its debut in August at the Linda Chapin Theatre at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. It makes an official partnership with the U.S. Dream Academy to promote scholastic achievement, creative accomplishment, community involvement, and healthy living for our nation's youth. The winner was Meghan Miller, Miss Texas' Outstanding Teen, who won a $30,000 college scholarship.
The pageant is held in January for the very first time, and makes its new home in Las Vegas, Nevada. Broadcast by CMT, the Host is television actor James Denton. Oklahoma's Jennifer Berry is crowned Miss America 2006, and begins her exciting year promoting her platform of Building Intolerance to Drunk Driving and Underage Drinking. In a return to tradition Malika Dudley, Miss Hawaii, becomes the first young woman to be awarded the Miss Congeniality title in over 30 years.
Sam Haskell III begins his first year as Chairman of the Board of Directors. The Miss America Organization chooses one national platform - Children's Miracle Network. Lauren Nelson becomes the second consecutive Miss Oklahoma to wear the crown of Miss America (2007). She dedicates her year to Protecting Children on the Internet. Popular television star Mario Lopez serves as Host. Rebecca King Dreman (Miss America 1974) becomes the third Miss America to join the MAO Board of Directors.
The Miss America Pageant makes its debut on the TLC network, and broadcasts the pageant live from the Planet Hollywood Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. "Miss America: Reality Check" makes its debut in January. Representing Michigan, Kirsten Haglund becomes the first teenager to wear the Miss America (2008) crown in fourteen years and dedicates her year to raising awareness of eating disorders.