Time’s Up CEO and president, Tina Tchen, has resigned from the organization amid backlash that resulted after it was found that the advocacy group advised former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in his sexual harassment scandal.
Tchen’s departure follows the exit of Roberta Kaplan as chairwoman. Tchen tweeted her statement on Thursday, defending the idea that organizations like Time’s Up must work with companies, government leaders and policy makers to find solutions and cannot simply “shout on the outside for change.”
But she further acknowledged that her leadership “has become a painful and divisive focal point” amid other female activists working for change and that it was time for her to step down.
“I have spent a career fighting for positive change for women And I’ve never stopped,” she said in part. “Now is the time for TIME’S UP to evolve and move forward as there is so much more work to do for women. It is clear that I am not the leader who can accomplish that in this moment.”
Time’s Up’s board of directors also announced Thursday that Monifa Bandele — formerly of MomsRising and most recently the group’s COO — would be the new interim CEO, effective Aug. 31. The board, which is led by attorney Nina Shaw, also issued a statement on the heels of Tchen’s departure, praising her dedication to making workplaces more fair and equitable.
“Tina Tchen has dedicated her life to making workplaces fair and equitable for workers and safer for women. That is why we asked her to lead TIME’S UP in the first place and why she has accomplished enormous changes in the two years she has served as our president,” the board said. “This includes guaranteeing support to the Silence Breakers and Harvey Weinstein survivors, developing a program to center women of color survivor voices, calling out sexism in politics, giving large corporations guidance to do the right thing and holding them accountable when their workplaces were not safe and equitable, and forcing the Golden Globes to address their toxic effect on the entertainment workplace. In sum, Tina has made a difference in the lives of so many and we are grateful for her hard work and impact. Accepting her resignation today is a demonstration of accountability and will allow our organization to move forward.”
Time’s Up has come under fire in recent weeks when New York Attorney General Letitia James found that Kaplan, the group’s chairwoman, advised Cuomo and represented a former top aide, Melissa DeRosa, in working to discredit a woman who had accused him of sexual misconduct. The report ultimately found that Cuomo had sexually harassed 11 women (Cuomo has denied the accusations), and Kaplan subsequently resigned from her role as chairwoman of Time’s Up.
After that initial report, an exposé in The New York Times revealed conflicts of interest within the organization and its survival was privately being questioned by some board members. And on Thursday, a Washington Post piece revealed that the group and Tchen declined to issue a statement in support of one of Cuomo’s first accusers, Lindsey Boylan. The Post reports that Tchen told colleagues to “stand down” from a plan to release a public statement supporting Boylan after two people connected to the group spoke with DeRosa.
Time’s Up is still a fairly young organization, having only been founded in early 2018 in the wake of the #MeToo movement in 2017.
Tchen had previously insisted she would not be resigning and recently addressed the “broken-trust moment” Time’s Up is facing. Other survivors and celebrities have spoken out against the group, including co-founder of the organization Shonda Rimes, who said the idea that “Time’s Up has become viewed as a receptacle for and the focus of men trying to cover up their obscene behaviors is exhausting to me.”
Tchen had added that an outside consultant was being pursued to lead a restructuring of the group with “input from survivors, supporters, critics and partners.” And in a panel discussion from earlier Thursday, Tchen had said she felt as if the Cuomo administration had used Time’s Up influence as a means of “cover.”
“We clearly see how we can be used as cover. And let’s be clear – what I believe happened with the Cuomo administration was we were used as cover in ways I had no understanding of until the AG’s report happened,” Tchen said. “That’s a problem, and we can’t let that happen. Our movement cannot be used as cover for folks who are trying to actually go at survivors or others.”