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Following the recent resignation of Tina Tchen, several Time’s Up board members are set to exit amid a reshuffling of the organization’s leadership.
Shonda Rhimes, Eva Longoria, Jurnee Smollett, Katie McGrath, Christy Haubegger, Hilary Rosen, Michelle Kydd, and Time’s Up’s interim board chair Nina Shaw are among the members stepping down from their positions with the gender equity group based on a statement posted Saturday to the organization’s website. Colleen DeCourcy, Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, Ashley Judd and Gabrielle Sulzberger are to remain on the board during this period “to help ensure a smooth transition,” according to the statement.
Existing board members are slated to step down within the next 30 days, “giving our CEO the ability to refocus the organization’s leadership to suit its mission and needs.” The statement from the board states that “TIME’S UP is ready for new leadership,” with new board appointments set to move the organization towards its new iteration.
“TIME’S UP was created to support the goal of safe, fair, dignified work for all women,” the statement begins. “It is crucial to us as a board that the organization remain in service to this seismic, global work to demand equity and disrupt systems that foster discrimination, harassment and abuse. We see the current crisis within TIME’S UP as an important opportunity for growth and change.”
The statement goes on to show support and “strong faith” in the leadership of interim CEO Monifa Bandele, who will oversee a comprehensive assessment of the organization, in collaboration with an outside consultant and with the input of Time’s Up’s stakeholders, including “survivors and those who work for survivor justice and gender equity in the workplace and beyond. “
“To mark the establishment of a new TIME’S UP, the organization will have a new and reconstituted board,” the statement continues. “To that end, the members of the existing board will be stepping aside over the next 30 days, giving our CEO the ability to refocus the organization’s leadership to suit its mission and needs. As we do so, we commit to making sure TIME’S UP has sufficient financial resources to do its important work.”
“TIME’S UP belongs to all women. Its mission must continue – until we live in a world in which no woman ever needs to say #timesup again.”
Following the announcement, advocates and survivors have begun responding to the change in leadership.”Good riddance,” said Monica McLemore, a Time’s Up Healthcare co-founder and an associate professor at UCSF’s family health care nursing department who resigned from the organization in March over Time’s Up’s handling of allegations that co-founder and board member Esther Choo failed to report complaints of sexual harassment. “Hopefully they will center survivors and find their way under Monifa’s leadership.”
Those who have been agitating for change at the organization are watching with caution. “These resignations are a step in the right direction, however, survivors are waiting to hear their concrete plans and how the organization plans to repair harm,” said activist and sexual assault survivor Alison Turkos, who organized the survivors’ letter calling for an investigation into Time’s Up on Aug. 9, which called for a a return of donations by individuals or companies facing sexual assault or harassment allegations. “It feels like Time’s Up leadership is ignoring the eight asks clearly laid out in our letter.”
Turkos is skeptical of the organization’s intentions, particularly given the time and manner in which Time’s Up announced the change, quietly over Labor Day weekend. “The governing board remained silent for so long, their silence will not save them,” Turkos said. “This announcement was made late on a Friday night, on a holiday weekend. It doesn’t feel like they are proudly stepping into a new direction. It feels like they are doing this in the shadows.” Nonetheless, she says, “I look forward to learning more and to seeing this organization get back to its roots and mission, and always centering those most impacted in the work.”
Drew Dixon, the subject of On the Record, the HBO Max documentary about Russell Simmons accusers which became a source of controversy at Time’s Up when its major donor Oprah Winfrey withdrew her support as executive producer, says the recent revelations at the organization have been difficult to watch.
“The last few weeks have been hard,” Dixon says. “Every survivor knows what it feels like to be manipulated, so it was excruciating to experience that dynamic in my interactions with an organization inspired by the #MeToo movement. I never expected that I would find myself speaking out against enablers of abuse within the movement after summoning the courage to speak out against the abusers themselves.”
Despite what she calls a “painful” history with the organization, Dixon says, “I’m glad that Times Up is listening. I hope they continue to do so… The replacement of the Times Up board is a good first step. It’s encouraging to see at least one fellow survivor, Ashley Judd, staying on the board, because at its core, the MeToo movement is about survivors of abuse who have found the strength to reclaim our power. Any organization fueled by that power must center our voices.”
The board exits follow the aforementioned open letter, organized by Turkos, to the gender rights organization from a group of sexual assault survivors and victims, current and former Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund clients and former Time’s Up staffers that accused the board of prioritizing “proximity to power over mission” following the Aug. 3 revelation in a New York Attorney General’s report that Cuomo’s office sought advice from Tchen and Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund co-founder Roberta Kaplan on how to respond to sexual harassment allegations.
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