Time’s Up CEO Tina Tchen has stepped down from the embattled women’s group following a series of devastating reports on the organization’s conflicts of interest and internal divisions and as a growing number of survivors demanded her resignation.
Tchen, who signed on as CEO in 2019, announced her resignation Thursday, saying the group needs to “move forward” from the mushrooming scandal.
Her exit comes after after Time’s Up co-founder Roberta Kaplan stepped down following reports that she had consulted New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on how to respond to allegations of sexual misconduct.
The Cuomo incident set off a tidal wave of complaints against the group, including an open letter signed by more than 100 survivors accusing Time’s Up of “abandon[ing] the very people it was supposed to champion.”
And while Tchen gave no indication earlier in the week that she planned to leave, the crescendo of criticism apparently made it untenable for her to continue.
“Now is the time for Time’s Up to evolve and move forward as there is so much more work to do for women,” Tchen said in a statement Thursday. “It is clear that I am not the leader who can accomplish that in this moment.”
Tchen said that her role as president and CEO of the advocacy group since 2019 had lately become “a painful and divisive focal point,” that was disruptive to women and other activists who should be working to “fight for change” and “are instead battling each other in harmful ways.”
The Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund also announced changes Friday, cutting ties with SKDK, the PR firm that had previously helped them connect survivors with public relations support. SKDK Vice President Hilary Rosen was among the Time’s Up leaders named in a recent Washington Post story as helping to squash the organization’s response to Cuomo’s first public accuser.
In a statement, the National Women’s Law Center said it would be taking the PR administration functions “in house,” and thanked the firm for its “continued commitment to finding pathways for survivors’ stories to be heard.”
Arghavan Salles, a founding member of Time’s Up Healthcare, told The Daily Beast Tchen’s resignation was “the right thing for sure” but remains unconvinced her departure will solve the organization’s multitude of problems.
“The fact that Tina was willing to step down suggests they’re willing to think a little more critically about what it takes to save this organization,” she explained. “I just hope no one thinks that will solve the problem and business will carry on as usual.”
Earlier this week, The Daily Beast reported that in the wake of Kaplan’s resignation, a growing number of survivors and backers of Time’s Up were calling for Tchen to join her at the exits.
“The audacity of Tina Tchen to remain in her position after all of this news is really a slap in the face,” Charlotte Bennett, one of the first women to publicly accuse Cuomo of sexual misconduct, told The Daily Beast then. “I don’t understand how she can be a leader in this space anymore.”
Tchen held an emergency meeting with the original Time’s Up founders on Monday after a bombshell New York Times story on internal divisions and conflicts of interest at the organization.
Rose McGowan, one of the first women to accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct, didn’t attend but tweeted out her response to the invitation: “Sure you’ll help true victims Tina, right over a cliff you’ll help us.”
The Daily Beast first reported on internal trouble at Time’s Up in April, when staffers complained about the organization’s cozy relationship with Cuomo, before his resignation this month.
Then came the Times revelation that Times’s Up actually gave Cuomo an advance copy of their statement about the allegations against him. A story by The Washington Post on Wednesday reported on text messages from Tchen to colleagues telling them to “stand down” from a plan to publicly support a Cuomo accuser.