EXCLUSIVE: Tina Tchen says she’s keeping her CEO gig, but change is coming to Time’s Up.
A sometimes-heated set of virtual meetings today with the chagrined gender equity group’s global leadership and founding signatories concluded without the public calls for Tchen to step down or step aside that Deadline reported yesterday.
“It isn’t the time,” one participant on the calls said, citing the extensive amends the Time’s Up President and CEO offered up, along with proposals on how to get the organization back on track after “mission creep” concerns and a series of public and institutional falterings. “We want to see how this pans out before taking matters further,” the participant added of a leadership challenge to Tchen, who has been in the job for almost two years.
“t’s not my intention to resign as President and CEO of Time’s Up,” Tchen told Deadline Monday after the meetings concluded. “I still deeply believe in the vision and the mission of the organization and am committed to doing the work to be the leader the organization and our communities need and deserve.”
To that need, the “model of accountability” presented this morning resulted in strong across the board, literally and figuratively, support expressed for Time’s Up as an organization and a mandate for Tchen herself at present, despite a New York Times expose on the weekend that revealed deep divisions over personnel and priorities at the group.
Starting around 8 AM the first virtual meeting had around 30 participants, and the second one at 9 AM had closer to 40 people involved. In the sessions, Tchen admitted to “issues,” within the organization, as one participant put it, and her responsibilities in those matters, to varying degrees. She also detailed a blueprint of transparency and accountability at Time’s Up that will be put in place in the coming weeks.
Today’s meetings also saw board vice chair Nina Shaw take on the mantle of interim chair. Whispered as a possible replace for Tchen, the superlawyer replaces former chair Roberta Kaplan, who exited the group earlier this month as details of her advisory position with soon-to-be ex-Governor Andrew Cuomo amidst his sexual harassment scandal became known.
Former chief of staff to Michelle Obama Tchen also briefed stakeholders on the process of bringing in outside consultants to assist the four-year old organization in getting back on track after Kaplan’s sudden resignation, shrouded associations with Cuomo, and strong criticism from sexual assault survivors like Drew Dixon.
Setting the agenda strictly Monday, Tchen told participants that a number of individuals and companies have been interviewed over the past week for the consultant position. A final decision is expected in the next week or so, stakeholders were informed. Still, as a number of participants expressed support for the changes Tchen put forth today and the CEO personally, the case of Dixon proved a barometer of the level of disaffection within Time’s Up.
An early accuser of hip hop and fashion mogul Russell Simmons for sexual abuse, Def Jam exec and record producer Dixon was featured in the Sundance premiering documentary On The Record. Time’s Up co-founder Oprah Winfrey dropped out as an EP on the Amy Ziering and Kirby Dick directed film not long before its debut, citing ““inconsistencies” in Dixon’s allegations. It was later claimed that Tchen was deeply critical of Ziering and Dick in a Time’s Up staff meeting As well, Time’s Up publicly said it was behind the Simmons accusers, but also “supported” Winfrey’s call to exit the documentary.
On Sunday, just as the NYT probe of Time’s Up hit the Internet and the street, Dixon took to social media. Those tweets were the catalyst for a contentious discussion in the Time’s Up meetings today over who was supporting Dixon and the validity of her accusations against the organization, I’m told.
“Contempt for survivors” is right. @TinaTchen manipulated me like a powerless chess piece without regard for my agency as a rape survivor, and then @TIMESUPNOW received a $500,000 donation right after Oprah dropped @OnTheRecordDoc So I guess harming a few survivors was worth it. https://t.co/sjBT4E04eA
— Drew Dixon (@deardrewdixon) August 22, 2021
What will happen next in terms of Dixon and Time’s Up was left unresolved in today’s meetings.