A McAlester organization that empowers young women in the area has a new executive director.

Jeanie McCabe has assisted with the Miss McAlester and Miss McAlester’s Outstanding Teen Scholarship Competitions for five years, the same amount of time she has been a member of the competitions’ sponsor Beta Iota. She is involved in several of the area’s charitable events, including the annual $10,000 Giveaway held in downtown McAlester, and said she is excited to continue helping young women in the area.

“It’s a great way to be able to give back to our young teens with the scholarships and stuff that we give,” McCabe said.

McCabe takes over for Lori Few, who stepped down after serving as executive director since 2015. Few joined Beta Iota in 2009 before she revived the Outstanding Teen program as Teen Director in summer 2012.

Few is the executive assistant at McAlester Public Schools and said she plans to spend more time with her family.

“The Miss McAlester Scholarship Competition has been the best full-time volunteer job that I have ever had,” Few said. “Working with the amazing young women in our community, has truly been the most rewarding experience for me. I am so proud of the work I have done alongside the women of Beta Iota to provide thousands of dollars in cash and college tuition scholarships to our participants.

“Now it is time for me to focus more of my time and attention towards my family, but I will always have a passion for this incredible program,” Few added.

McCabe graduated from Kiowa High School and Eastern Oklahoma State College, and has now owned McCabe Crane & Sign with her husband, Jared, for 10 years, she said.

She said she started in spring presenting at various schools in the area to inform young women about the programs and scholarship opportunities available to them through Miss McAlester.

Beta Iota McAlester has sponsored the Miss McAlester and Miss McAlester’s Outstanding Teen Scholarship Competitions since 1978. The McAlester competitions are open to any candidate living within 40 miles of McAlester and are official preliminaries for the Miss Oklahoma and Miss Oklahoma’s Outstanding Teen, which are part of the Miss America Organization. Megan Higgins is the Outstanding Teen Director for the program.

This year’s McAlester competitions are set for 7 p.m. Saturday, June 22 at S. Arch Auditorium.

Miss candidates must be high school seniors ages 17-25 and will be judged on a private interview (25%), evening wear/social impact (20%), talent (40%), and on-stage interview (15%). The biggest change this year is the elimination of the swimsuit category, with the national organization replacing it with a new on-stage interview phase.

“I think it is fantastic because in today’s society, so many people focus on body image when there’s so much more talent and so much more than just body image,” McCabe said.

Teen candidates must be ages 13-18 and not a graduating senior. They will be judged on private interview (25%), lifestyle & fitness in active wear (15%), talent (35%), and evening wear/on-stage question (25%)

McCabe said the Miss McAlester competitions help young women build confidence.

“Our competition is about giving to and empowering the young women, giving them the confidence that they need to succeed in life and be able to give them the scholarships so that they can further their education,” McCabe said.

This year’s winners — Miss McAlester 2019 Marra Juarez and Miss McAlester’s Outstanding Teen 2019 Emilee Coxsey — are competing at the state level, which ends this week.

Jaurez is a sophomore at Eastern Oklahoma State College. She won with the platform Save the Wave and vocal talent. Her parents are David and Melissa Juarez.

Coxsey is a freshman at McAlester High School and her platform is Foundation for Tomorrow with jazz dance as her talent. Her parents are Phillip and Deanna Coxsey.

“They’re representing McAlester and beyond what I would have ever thought,” McCabe said.

Contact Adrian O’Hanlon III at aohanlon@mcalesternews.com