MANILA, Philippines — Longtime Miss Universe Organization president Paula Shugart announced she would stepping down from her role, one that she's held since 1997.
Following the conclusion of the Miss Universe 2023 national costume show, co-host Nick Teplitz brought out Shugart onto the Jose Adolfo Pineda Arena stage in El Salvador to give her proclamation.
Shugart began her speech by praising El Salvador for hosting the pageant's 72nd edition — it was the country's first time to host Miss Universe since 1975 — and the initial hesitancy to stage the event there.
"I was told, 'We promise you the people of El Salvador will deliver, we will be ready, and we want to welcome the world to our country'," Shugart continued. "And as I said before, the pure passion and pride that I felt convinced me El Salvador would deliver. And El Salvador, you have delivered beyond our greatest expectations."
Several Salvadorians gave Shugart a standing ovation when she repeated her gratitude and praise in Spanish, some even waving their flags.
Shugart then proceeded to announce she would be ending her presidential tenure at Miss Universe after the coronation night on November 18 (the 19th in the Philippines).
She clarified that the decision was "months in the making" and wasn't a response to recent events, "I stayed because of my belief in El Salvador and my love for the Miss Universe brand."
"I have always passionately believed that 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 brand is strong and will remain resilient," Shugart continued.
Shugart reflected on the organization's rough state when she took over in 1997 and thanked the Miss Universe community for why it managed to remain afloat and in some ways improve.
"We taught women that true beauty is based in confidence and using your voice, we expanded our global reach, and focused on telling the stories of all these incredible women," Shugart went, touching on the organization's rule changes to allow transwomen, mothers, and wives to compete.
She shared her learnings about the definition for "transformational leadership" that can and must be about "putting the needs of the team above all else in creating a vision for the future, empathetic beyond self-interest, committed to building inspiration and teamwork (not insecurity and chaos), motivation over denigration, honesty, respect, integrity, and living by one's words."
The live telecast then cut to Thai businesswoman and Miss Universe owner Anne Jakrajutatip, who led in applauding Shugart for her points on leadership.
"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," Shugart ended. "Don't think for one minute I'm retiring, I have an unbelievable story to tell and I look forward to telling it."
Shugart closed her speech by inviting everyone to tune in to the coronation in two days' time, which garnered one final applause from the crowd.
Credit belongs to : www.philstar.com