Tina Tchen, the president of Time’s Up, resigned on Thursday, one day after a Washington Post report detailed the extent that leaders of the advocacy organization worked with former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s team to form a joint response on early sexual harassment claims.
“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. “It is clear that I am not the leader who can accomplish that in this moment.”
Her departure follows that of Roberta Kaplan, who chaired the Time’s Up board and in 2017 co-founded the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund to support survivors of sexual harassment and assault. Kaplan resigned from the defense fund this month in response to the investigation that ultimately led to Cuomo’s resignation — one that examined accusations by 11 women that the former governor had engaged in sexual harassment and misconduct.
“I am especially aware that my position at the helm of TIME’S UP has become a painful and divisive focal point, where those very women and other activists who should be working together to fight for change are instead battling each other in harmful ways,” Tchen said.
Tchen acknowledged in an interview with The 19th earlier this month that she had a “blindspot” when it came to longstanding relationships between the group’s leaders and those in powerful positions.
“When do we say ‘No, we can’t work with you anymore’?” Tchen said in the interview, when discussing the need to gauge when to pull away from a working relationship in the organization. “I will admit, I probably have drawn that line too far down the pathway.”
The Post reported that Tchen directly told her colleagues to “stand down” from plans to publicly support Lindsey Boylan, the first woman to accuse Cuomo, after two people involved in Time’s Up spoke with former top Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa — who led efforts to disparage Boylan and other accusers, investigators found.
Yuh-Line Niou, a New York assemblywoman and Democrat, tweeted in response to the news that she was “hurt and disappointed in finding out how @TIMESUPNOW treated survivors.” Niou was among the cohort of New York lawmakers that called for Cuomo’s impeachment in the wake of the report into his conduct — not just his resignation.
“I’m glad that they are taking accountability. I hope things change,” she said.
Carrie Goldberg, whose legal client Lucia Evans accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault, thanked Tchen for resigning in a tweet and criticized some of the language she used.
“It’s inaccurate to say that activists/women are ‘battling each other,’” she said. “Rather, it’s survivors in the trenches fed up with power brokers making back-room deals and hoarding control.”
The departure of two of Time’s Up original co-founders, who launched the organization following a flood of rape, assault, and harassment allegations made against Weinstein, come after former employees and other survivors accused the organization of “failing all survivors.”
“TIME’S UP has prioritized its proximity to power over mission,” survivors’ open letter to the organization’s governing board read earlier this month.