(CNN) — During their year of service, pageant queens are highly visible, making appearances at major events, advocating for important causes and speaking at public engagements, all in an official capacity. But following the shocking double resignation of Miss USA 2023 Noelia Voigt and Miss Teen USA 2023 UmaSofia Srivastava this week, just days apart, insiders are painting a picture of national titleholders kept absent from their usual duties, their organization in disarray, and key players who appear to be unable to voice their experiences — and concerns.

The Miss USA organization, which runs both pageants, has come under fire amid accusations of mismanagement, a hostile work environment, and conditions that led, in particular, to Voigt’s resignation on the grounds that her role was impacting her mental health.

While Srivastava, 16, who represented New Jersey at Miss Teen USA, released a statement on Instagram saying that her personal values “no longer fully align” with those of the organization, Voigt, 24, who represented Utah at Miss USA, wrote a long but cryptic post, citing her mental health. Soon, however, it went viral for an apparent hidden message — the first letter of the first 11 sentences spelled out “I am silenced.” (Voigt has not subsequently addressed this speculation.)

“We respect and support Noelia’s decision to step down from her duties,” the Miss USA pageant said in a statement following Voigt’s announcement. “The well-being of our titleholders is a top priority, and we understand her need to prioritize herself at this time.” The organization has not returned CNN’s request for further comment.

In response, a number of current state titleholders who competed alongside Voigt for Miss USA — including Miss North Carolina USA 2023 Jordyn Ashlee McKey, Miss Wisconsin USA 2023 Alexis Loomans and Miss New York USA, Rachelle di Stasio — shared social media messages in support of Voigt, asking the organization to “release Noelia from the confidentiality NDA clause of her contract, in perpetuity, so that she is free to speak on her experiences and time as Miss USA.”

Denise White, a PR representative for both Srivastava and Voigt — and the 1994 Miss Oregon USA — alleged that both winners are restricted by “ironclad” non-disclosure agreements in their contracts.

To date, neither Voigt or Srivastava has publicly revealed more about what led them to quit. But in a resignation letter provided to the Miss USA organization and obtained by CNN, Voigt outlined a number of concerns, ranging from frustrating managerial issues to more serious allegations. In it, she described a “toxic work environment” that “at best, is poor management and, at worst, is bullying and harassment.” She accused the pageant’s CEO, Laylah Rose, of “slandering” her character in conversations with people inside and outside of the organization, including calling Voigt “mentally ill.” Rose is an entrepreneur and CEO of the VIP Pageantry Network, who took over the brand in 2023.

Voigt says Rose’s communications to her were “cold and unnecessarily aggressive,” and that she never received a formal meeting about her responsibilities. Despite the lack of communication about her role, she was “constantly… threatened with disciplinary action, including taking away my salary,” according to the document.

The organization failed to arrange travel accommodations for Voigt on multiple occasions, she wrote, and did not provide her with an apartment and car for months, as had been outlined in her prize package. Nor did she have an “effective handler,” she claimed, the latter leading to an instance where Voigt says she was sexually harassed during a Christmas parade event in Sarasota, Florida, while alone with an unnamed person in a car.

According to Voigt’s letter, Rose is “actively building a culture of fear and control, the antithesis of women’s empowerment, that is…unsafe for future titleholders and employees.”

Nor, she wrote, can she publicly voice her concerns, saying she is “silenced contractually from being able to speak up for myself.”

‘Things are falling apart’

Voigt and Srivastava’s respective resignations were not coordinated, according to White.

“What I’ve witnessed and seen is harassment, a toxic work environment and bullying,” White said in a telephone interview with CNN. “It’s just not conducive to a women’s organization that uplifts women and is supposed to promote using your voice. It’s quite the opposite.”

Both pageant winners sought out support from management at Miss Universe, which owns the Miss USA organization, without success, she added.

“Both young ladies were always trying to resolve any issues quietly behind the scenes,” she explained. “The fact that Miss Universe Organization has not even responded to Noelia’s resignation at this point is just stonewalling… No wonder things are falling apart. Because nobody knows what to do.”

The Miss Universe organization and Rose, through Miss USA, did not immediately respond to CNN’s requests for comment.

Voigt’s pageant coach, Thom Brodeur, who has worked with Miss USA contestants since 1991 and began working with Voigt while she was preparing for Miss Utah, emphasized new and ominous territory for the organization under Rose. “No woman has ever resigned as Miss USA or as Miss Teen USA, and she’s lost both of them in 48 hours,” he said.

Even before Voigt and Srivastava stepped down, there was turmoil in the organization, according to White, Brodeur and Miss USA’s former social media director, Claudia Engelhardt, who also resigned in recent days. Engelhardt claimed on Instagram that she had worked without pay for two months after being hired, and that she had seen a “decline” in Voigt’s mental health, and witnessed “disrespect” toward Srivastava and members of her family.

And according to Engelhardt, they were far from the only members of the Miss USA organization to depart. When she began her role in January, she was part of an already small team of five employees. Now, she says, after multiple firings and resignations, the team is down to Rose and one other employee. Multiple sources said the turnover has been constant.

“This is not a state pageant. This is not a local pageant. You need… a whole team,” Engelhardt said in a phone call with CNN.

Engelhardt said she believed she was applying for a freelance role, and was surprised to find she was being hired as staff. Still, she claimed, she received no employee contract, no onboarding and no guidance. There was no one else to help her manage the day-to-day social media needs of the national brand, she said, and often came up against what she framed as Rose’s overbearing approach to their social accounts.

“She would block Instagram accounts with people that she had personal discrepancies with. She would censor comments, and she would leave comments for the Miss USA page as if she was Noelia,” Engelhardt claimed.

White also alleged that Rose impersonated the two pageant winners on their official accounts. Weeks before Voigt resigned, she announced in a now-deleted Instagram post on her personal account that she “no longer had access” to her Miss USA pages.

An uneasy path forward

Engelhardt said she witnessed firsthand the impact of the role on Voigt, who she considers a friend as well as a former colleague. “(I saw) how stressed out she would get when the owner would constantly bombard her with emails,” she recalled. “She was constantly living in an anxious state.”

But despite the day-to-day stressors, Voigt alleged that she only made few public appearances. She said in her letter that, aside from a handful of press interviews in Los Angeles following her win and subsequent ones in Utah, the state she had represented at the Miss USA pageant, she had “yet to make an appearance outside of Sarasota, Florida,” where she was living. This was due to a “lack of communication” that she found “baffling,” she wrote.

“Our Miss USA, who should have been booked and busy (with) endless opportunities was sitting around doing nothing, and it’s not because she didn’t want to, but because of mismanagement,” Engelhardt said.

On May 9, the Miss USA pageant announced that Savannah Gankiewicz, Miss Hawaii USA 2023 and first-runner up to Voigt at the 2023 Miss USA pageant, would be taking over the national title and its responsibilities. She will be officially crowned on May 15.

“We are proud to crown Savannah Miss USA 2023, A true representation of vision, intelligence, and compassion,” Rose said in a statement. “Her dedication to empowering women through self-love and confidence is inspiring, and we look forward to her impactful reign as Miss USA.”

“I fully support and respect Noelia’s decision to step down, and I stand in solidarity with mental health awareness,” Gankiewicz added. “To my fellow Miss USA sisters, I believe it’s crucial for us to stand united for the future of the organization and the incoming class of 2024 and beyond.”

Though many have offered their public support for the two resigned pageant winners — including Shanna Moakler, who oversaw Voigt’s win in her role as the state director for the Miss Utah USA pageant, and Cindy Provost and Debbie Miller, who oversaw Srivastava’s win in their role as state directors for the Miss New Jersey Teen USA pageant — Engelhardt and White both hope that others will step up to reveal more about what they see as a stifling culture, as well as potential legal ramifications, that are keeping the titleholders quiet.

“They need somebody else to speak up for them,” White said.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2024 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Join our Newsletter for the latest news right to your inbox