Judging is the cornerstone of the Miss Hilton Head Island, Miss South Carolina and Miss America pageants. Each judge is tasked with evaluating contestants on five phases of competition, to select the most qualified young woman to wear the crown.

We recognize that this is no easy task and, therefore, would like to take a moment to recognize the individuals  with the challenging job of selecting this year's Miss Hilton Head Island, Miss Hilton Head Island Teen and Miss Hilton Head Island Pre-Teen:

2015 Judges: Bios

Jeremiah Wood

Field of Entertainment

Jeremiah Wood is a fashion model and actor from Dobson, NC. As a fashion model, Jeremiah can be seen in ads for Abercrombie and Fitch, Ralph Lauren, Wrangler, Belk, Macy’s and JC Penny and several other publications. Jeremiah has appeared in commercials for Ralph Lauren, Belk, Schiffmans and Husqvarna. Jeremiah can also be seen as an actor in the television series “Banshee,” “Homeland” and the movie “You are Here” starring Zach Galifianakis and Owen Wilson. Most recently Jeremiah was cast on CBS’s hit reality TV show, Survivor: Cagayan. Jeremiah is involved with the nonprofit organization Give Kids the World that provides life lasting memories to terminally ill children and their families.

Larry Hoffer

Field of STEM

Larry Hoffer is chief of staff for the Association of Science-Technology Centers, a nonprofit association in Washington, DC representing science museums all over the world. In this role, Larry is responsible for the day-to-day operations of this $5 million association, and oversees conference, membership, development/fundraising, communications and marketing, governance, and strategic planning efforts, managing a total budget of $2.25 million. He has held senior leadership roles in the association management field for more than 15 years.

Larry has been a volunteer with the Miss America Organization for 11 years, serving as a judge, auditor, judges' chair, and interview advisor. He has judged Miss America local and state pageants in 12 states, and several local winners he judged went on to win their state titles that same year.

A resident of Fairfax, Virginia, Larry holds a bachelor's degree from George Washington University in Washington, DC, and is a culinary school graduate.

Kellie Appel

Field of Communication

Kellie Appel enjoyed a 19 year career in the media and entertainment industry with Turner Broadcasting System, in the fields of law, strategy, business development, sales and marketing She also served as Chair of Turner Women Today, a professional development and mentoring group. Kellie has been involved with the Miss America Organization for over 25 years, as a contestant, coach, board member and judge. She serves as President of the Board of Directors of the Miss Capital City Scholarship Pageant in Atlanta, which has produced state winners at both the Miss and Teen levels.

In addition, she served on the local panel that selected the current Miss America’s Outstanding Teen, Olivia McMillan, and on the state panel that selected Nina Davuluri, Miss America 2014, as Miss Michigan’s Outstanding Teen in 2006. In addition to being a classically trained pianist, Kellie is experienced in vocal performance, acting, gymnastics and public speaking.

Kellie received her B.A. degree from Mercer University (magna cum laude) and her J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law. She lives in Atlanta with her husband, Evan, and their two daughters, Allie and Carly.

Ericka Dunlap

Field of Miss America

Ericka Dunlap is a native of Orlando, Florida where she celebrates her multi-dimensional life and career as a Forever Miss America and continues to enjoy successes as a Diversity Advocate, Motivational Speaker, Public Relations Consultant and Entertainer. Ericka has been distinguished as a “40 under 40” honoree as Principal Consultant of her company, Crown Communication Group, which leverages public relations and strategic marketing opportunities for businesses and individuals to gain increased media exposure and revenue to their target audiences. Ms. Dunlap was honored as the Global Ambassador for the Globuntu Academy based in Vienna, Austria and benefitting Millennial Entrepreneurs throughout Africa. She serves as Board Chair for Diversity Initiatives for the University of Central Florida Alumni Association, which is her alma mater. As a 25 year pageant veteran, Ms. Dunlap has served as a Judge for 10 state pageants and several select local competitions in the Miss America Pageant system and was a member of the judging panel that selected Teresa Scanlan as Miss Nebraska before her historic win as Miss America 2011. 

Sammy Akridge

Field of Leadership

Sammy Akridge Originally from Alabama’s Gulf Coast, Sammy now resides in Northwest Alabama in the City of Muscle Shoals. As a graduate from Athens State University, he holds a BS in Business Management with a double minor in Marketing and Human Resource Management. Sammy has also recently completed his Masters of Business Administration degree from Walden University with specialization in International Business and Accounting. He is currently employed as a Chief Financial Officer at Higher Ground Energy Solutions.

Early in his career, Sammy worked in the modeling industry as a print ad and runway model under the representation of a talent agency based in Chicago, Illinois. His modeling career afforded him the opportunity to participate in New York’s Fashion week for two years and travel the globe to many different destinations for modeling projects. He has extensive experience in the pageant industry and has judged and directed many different pageants throughout the nation. Sammy is the Executive Director for the Miss Quad Cities Scholarship Pageant which is a Miss America Local Preliminary and is a Certified Miss America Local Preliminary Judge.

In his spare time Sammy enjoys traveling, running, playing tennis, playing the piano and painting. Sammy is extremely passionate about volunteer work, dedicating time to the Aids Action Coalition, National Arthritis Foundation and The Shoals Area Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities.

Mack Hopper

Field of Talent

Mack Hopper A native of Flippin, Arkansas, Mack Hopper graduated from the University of Central Arkansas with honors and a double major in Architectural and Interior Designs and minor in Historic Preservation.

His service within the Miss America organization consists of having judged in various states including: New York, Arkansas, Texas and Mississippi. Mack is also on the board of directors for the Miss New York City pageant, which gave you two of the last three Miss Americas and five of the last six Miss New Yorks. He has extensive training in voice and has been showcased and awarded several talent titles.

Mack has been seen on TV shows such as Smash, Boardwalk Empire, The Carrie Diaries, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Pan Am, and Person of Interest.

Currently, he works as the design and creative director for a sustainable furniture manufacturer, as well as, owning his own business MH Interior Design, Inc. in New York City.


2014 Judges Panel


2013 Judges Panel

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