Miss Hastings Scholarship Program director resigns

Posted 3/9/22

Hastings Educational Scholarship Program, Inc. (HESPI) announces the resignation of Janelle Behny as executive director of the Miss Hastings Scholarship Program (MHSP). Her departure will take effect …

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Miss Hastings Scholarship Program director resigns


Hastings Educational Scholarship Program, Inc. (HESPI) announces the resignation of Janelle Behny as executive director of the Miss Hastings Scholarship Program (MHSP). Her departure will take effect Tuesday, June 21st, 2022. Behny, who held the Miss Hastings title in 1983, was part of the current organization’s relaunch in March 2017 after a 32-year hiatus. Since then, MHSP has crowned three titleholders. The first two were semifinalists at the Miss Minnesota Competition and won educational scholarships there. MHSP postponed its 2020 competition until 2021 when Jasmin Kotek became Miss Hastings 2022. This June, she will compete for the state crown at Grace Church in Eden Prairie. Thanks to its sponsors, scholarships awarded by MHSP to the three titleholders total $3,300. Each MHSP candidate received scholarship awards, as well.

As a local program of the Miss America Organization (MAO), the largest provider of educational scholarship assistance to young women in the country, MHSP recognized the 100th anniversary of MAO at their annual competition last October. Reflecting on that history, including changes in the past five years, Behny said, “We’re no longer the Miss America of our parents. Even the changes since I held my title were significant. However, removing the swimsuit category from our competition and modifying our new categories to mentor young women have been exciting for them personally and professionally! Helping them see their future potential and develop what’s already within them is the best part of my job. Watching her face light up when she sees it, too, is priceless! It’s why I worked to bring this program back to our community, why I love it, and why I want to see it continue to thrive.”

Behny emphasized that each person at the local, state, and most at the national level of MAO is a volunteer. “It’s the love of selflessly giving, serving others, and empowering them to excel and continue giving that drives our success. With that said, MHSP has a firm foundation, so it’s an ideal time for fresh eyes to come together as a team and build on it. The director nurtures the vision for MHSP’s goals, then invites others to use their gifts, share their ideas, and run with them to improve the vision and grow the program. The position also gives the director a spotlight to shine on the efforts delegated to each volunteer and watch them grow. Therefore, development opportunities are available to committee members, too. It’s not limited to candidates and titleholders.”

When asked why she’s stepping away, Behny responded, “When I started this job, I gave myself five years to obtain two goals. The first was to receive 501(c)3 status for MHSP to benefit our sponsors and open more sponsor doors to our organization. We did it in less than four months and introduced our foundation, Hastings Educational Scholarship Program, Inc. (HESPI). My second goal was to firmly establish the program in our community to consistently provide mentoring and scholarship opportunities to the young women of the Hastings area and serve our community. We did that, too, and I look forward to seeing more young women from Hastings and our school district benefit from their involvement with MHSP.”

Behny continued, “With these goals achieved, it’s time to let others take my place, bring a fresh perspective to the organization, and enjoy the camaraderie of working together to serve the Hastings area. As for me, I’ll shift more of my focus back on my family. They’ve been incredibly supportive and helpful! The Hastings region has been fantastic, too, and I want everyone to know how genuinely grateful I am for it. Thank you! Therefore, I ask them and our sponsors to please help our new director and committee members by continuing their support to the Miss Hastings Scholarship Program.”

After a whirlwind of five years re-establishing a nonprofit, branding it twice, navigating MHSP through a pandemic, and translating continued MAO updates to benefit our community, what does Behny have ahead of her? “I look forward to mentoring Jasmin, our current Miss Hastings, to continue serving our community with various causes and events on her schedule and promote her MAO Social Impact Initiative (SII). Jasmin’s SII is MIND: Moving in New Directions Toward Mental Wellness. It’s very personal to her, and she’s done an impressive job developing it to help others. I would love to see her win the opportunity to take her SII to the Miss America Competition as Miss Minnesota! She’s working hard to prepare for the Miss Minnesota Competition, and we appreciate our community’s support in her efforts.”

When asked about the future of MHSP and HESPI, Behny was optimistic. “The possibilities for the continued growth of MHSP are breathtaking! There’s potential for this organization to serve elementary and secondary-aged girls in our community, as well as undergrad and graduate-aged women, so MHSP is just getting started!” As president of HESPI, Behny intends to help its board members drive the search for a new director and committee chairs, including a web admin, social media wrangler, fundraiser, publicist, events manager, and appearance manager.

Behny plans to train each new volunteer for a smooth transition and added, “The more who step forward, the better because many hands make light work, more creativity, and increased success. I’m excited to watch it unfold and see others enjoy the ride! To everyone from our organization, the Hastings area, and the Miss Minnesota Scholarship Organization, I give my deepest gratitude for blessing my time in the driver’s seat. Thank you very much.”

To learn more about MHSP and how you can become a volunteer or a candidate, please call or text MHSP at 651-270-8984 or email [email protected] You can also find them online at https://www. misshastings.org/.