Paula Shugart steps down as president of the Miss Universe Organization

After 23 years, Paula Shugart officially announced her resignation as the president of the Miss Universe Organization (MUO) during the Miss Universe 2023 national costume show on Thursday, November 16 in El Salvador.

"I've decided that this Saturday will be my last show, and to be clear this decision has been months in the making and is not in response to recent events," she said during her speech.

She continued: "I have always passionately believed Miss Universe is not about any one woman, it's about community, our community. It's about the passionate fans, the titleholders, the national directors who have remained dedicated to this brand through thick and thin, and because of them the Miss Universe brand is strong and will remain resilient."

Paula also left a valuable message — "If I can leave you with anything, what I have learned as president is there is a critical difference between declaring the words transformational leadership and being a real transformational leader."

"Transformational leadership is not about one person, it can and it must be about putting the needs of the team above all else in creating a vision for the future. It can and must be empathetic beyond self-interest, it can and must be committed to building confidence through inspiration and teamwork, not insecurity and chaos, it can and must be about motivation, not denigration, and above all, it must be about honesty, respect, integrity, and living by your word. One cannot just talk the talk, one must walk the walk," she added.

"It has been my honor to work beside all of you. Miss Universe is a very, very special brand deserving of love, proper leadership, support, and investment. To our fans, you are the best in the world, and I am happy to be joining your ranks. To all of you, thank you for this incredible adventure, I have been truly blessed. And to all of the women claiming their place in the world, never ever be afraid to use your voice, use this platform we've been given and you can truly change the world."

Paula joined MUO in 1998 as the Vice President of Production and was appointed President in 2001. Her role has included overseeing all business transactions and as well as production of the live, worldwide telecast each year.

Since starting at the organization, she transformed the competition into a powerful, year-round, international organization that advances and supports opportunities for women, as well as philanthropic initiatives around the world. During her tenure as president, she has been honored by numerous philanthropic organizations, including Smile Train and Gilda's Club.

She has served as the Commissioner to Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Latin Media and Entertainment Commission, and was previously a member of the Women's Leadership Board at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. Also, she sits on the Dean Advisory Council to Ohio University Scripps College of Communication, her alma mater, and is a recipient of the University's prestigious Medal of Merit for Achievement in Entertainment and Television Production.

After Miss Universe, Paula plans to concentrate on several other projects that she has in the works, many focused on philanthropy, including Harnaaz Sandhu's Global Menstrual Equity Accelerator, which launched last year at the Global Citizen Festival.

In case you missed it, here's her entire speech:

Photo: Miss Universe


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