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Mississippi Crown Executive Director - Nicole Monson

5 years ago, one of my best friends and I decided we wanted to be Miss America local directors. While we had both been involved in the Miss Iowa Organization in one way or another (her being a former 1RU, no big deal), we decided to revitalize a local organization in Illinois that had been dormant for 4-5 years. So Miss Mississippi Crown was re-born in July 2019 under the direction of Stacy Paper and I. We gathered a team of people around us that we knew to be supportive and brought individual strengths to this program in a state where none of the contestants knew us or our background. We learned a lot and put together our first competition in October 2019 to crown our first titleholders, Isha Jog and Emma Widick. We also fell in love right away with the teen 1st runner up and grabbed a hold of her to take her at large, Olivia Egert. Then it was Covid and our first state competition was delayed a year. 

The entire world went through a lot in 2020 and 2021 and I was no exception, but when it came to our first state competition we had no idea what to expect. Emma decided not to compete after an extra year before the state competition. We met some friends and brought one of our board members along, Christina King. We watched Isha win non-finalist talent and Olivia win 1st runner up. We were in awe. Stacy moved to North Carolina with her family that summer, but I had been bitten by the pageant bug bad. I wanted to continue but didn’t think I could do it alone so I turned to Christina. 

Honestly the rest is history. The last 3 state competitions with Christina we have had incredible success (I will list the accomplishments of Team MMC at the end). Christina and I have put together 3 competitions with help from the Center for Living Arts in Rock Island (hey Dino and Tina!) and Illinois Wesleyan University.  People have donated time and money to our scholarship and organizational funds, we have held fundraisers, and we have tried all kinds of things to get people to be interested in the Miss America Opportunity and the benefit of scholarships for women. 

As I close out this 4th state competition and 5th year of being an ED, I am stepping away from the Miss Mississippi Crown Organization to spend more time with my husband, 8 month old son, 7 year-old daughter, 8 year-old step daughter, and 10 year-old step son. It’s been a difficult decision for me to make because I love my MMC family so much. But I want to be able to be fully present with my family and it may not seem like being a volunteer local executive director takes a lot of time (outside of state week and competition day) but it’s a part-time job, year-round.

To Jason and Leah, I could have NEVER continued on with MMC as long as I have without you two and your friendships right at our first year in Marion. Thank you for the phone calls, texts, and late nights during state week and SKO that I will never forget. Your support and prep for Team Chicago pushed me to want to do more for MMC and our program wouldn’t be what it is without that. Thank you. #MMChicago

To Stacy, thank you for believing that my interest in pageantry and event planning skills were enough to be your Co-ED. You never doubted my suggestions or made me feel unqualified. We made a fantastic team and I am so thankful you took this leap with me. I love you!

To Mariah, Alysa, Molly, Shauna, Maggie, Madison, Ali, Naomi, Faith, Brittany, Tianna, Susan, Mikhayla, Brynn, Cait, Taylor, Trevor, and anyone else who served on our board, volunteered for prep sessions, or judged a competition, thank you!! I am not a great delegator, but all of you were so helpful and always willing to make time for our girls. All of your dedication never went unnoticed and I know you’re just as proud of their success as we are! Thank you, Trevor for being a good sounding board this weekend and being there for Jess this year as Miss Illinois. 

To Anne Maes, Rachel Vopatek, and Leslie Moore, thank you for the download of knowledge you gave me and for always being willing to answer my questions about various things over the years. Thank you, Anne, for mentoring Stacy and I when we started this journey. I still use your tools when planning the MMC competition. It’s nice to know we can cross state lines and work together for the greater good of the young women in the program. 

To Christina, thanks for taking a chance on me and on MAO. Thank you for stepping up this past year when I wasn’t able to. Thank you for being my friend and holding my hand every time one of our girls was onstage and crying with me over every single award and success they achieved. But mostly, thank you for keeping MMC alive. I know you’ll be great! I love you! #MMCDreamTeam

To the MMC Class of 2020 (our first class), thank you for being excited to compete for us and taking a chance on newbies. I know I can speak for Stacy on this as well when I say that we feel a special connection to you. You were all amazing on that stage and have gone on to do great things on and off the MAO stage. Thank you so much for your trust.

To the moms of MMC girls or ones we have adopted along the way, thank you for trusting me with your girls. I hope you felt they were properly loved and supported so they could be their best selves. That’s all I’ve ever wanted for each of them. Thank you for letting me do my “job” of coaching them through the tough times and the happy ones. Excited to continue cheering on your girls alongside you.

To Isha, Annie, Emma, Olivia, Lucy, Allie, Jess, Rhiannon, Megan, Marley, McKenna, and Addie, you are the reason I do this and why it’s so hard to step away. I will miss the panicked messages and late night debriefs (but somehow think I may not be completely out of the woods with those). Thank you for letting me be a part of your journeys. I promise to keep being your #1 fan.

And finally, thank you to my husband, Aaron. You literally married into this and never complained. Thank you for sharing me with MMC for 3 years and not complaining about the time or money that it some times cost me. Thank you for stepping up in September when I was in the hospital and we all thought I wouldn’t be able to make it to competition day. Thank you for being genuinely interested in a passion project of mine. I love you so much.

Signing off for the last time as your Miss Mississippi Crown executive director, Nicole Monson.

Miss Mississippi Crown Scholarship Org Stats:

Miss Illinois 2023, Jessica Tilton

4 interview awards and 1 non-finalist interview award at Miss Illinois and Miss Illinois' Teen

3 first runner-up placements, 1 third runner-up, 2 fourth runner-up, and 1 semi-finalist placement at Miss Illinois and Miss Illinois' Teen

1 Preliminary Evening Gown Award at Miss Illinois

2 Teen in Action awards at Miss Illinois' Teen

2 Community Service Initiative Awards at Miss Illinois and Miss Illinois' Teen

1 Non-finalist talent winner at Miss Illinois

1 Onstage Interview and Evening Gown award at Miss Illinois' Teen.

1 STEM award recipient and 3 STEM award finalists at Miss Illinois

1 Women in Business Award winner at Miss Illinois

1 Special Judges Award at Miss Illinois

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