Tuesday, 19 October, 2021

Shaken by scandal, Time’s Up plans to shuffle its board


Time’s Up on Saturday said that it plans to revamp its board of directors after its leaders suffered a withering backlash for trying to assist New York’s disgraced former governor, who resigned amid allegations that he harassed nearly a dozen women.

Revelations that Time’s Up’s former leaders were involved in strategy sessions with then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office have rocked the nonprofit that began as a sisterhood of powerful Hollywood women who vowed to upend the male-dominated status quo.

Last week, Time’s Up’s Chief Executive Tina Tchen resigned just days after Cuomo left office. Two weeks earlier, Time’s Up’s former chairwoman, Roberta Kaplan, was pressured to step down after it was revealed that she had been closely coordinating with Cuomo’s office.

The Los Angeles-based organization’s chief operating officer, Monifa Bandele, was named interim CEO, but the group continues to grapple with allegations that it has failed women who asked for its support.

Board members including Eva Longoria, Shonda Rhimes, Nina Shaw, Hilary Rosen, Katie McGrath, Christy Haubegger, Ana Navarro and Jurnee Smollett offered their resignations this week to give Bandele an opportunity to put together her own leadership team.

The move comes after sexual harassment survivors continued to blast the organization on social media. Some have criticized the involvement of Rosen, who is vice chair of the powerful Washington, D.C., public relations firm SKDKnickerbocker and a high-profile Democratic operative. Rosen declined to comment.

The board said in a statement Saturday on the group’s website that it viewed “the current crisis … as an important opportunity for growth and change.”

“To mark the establishment of a new Time’s Up, the organization will have a new and reconstituted board,” the statement said. “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.”

The nearly 4-year-old organization has been engulfed in crisis since New York’s attorney general last month released a report detailing allegations of nearly a dozen women who accused Gov. Cuomo of harassment.

The report noted that Cuomo’s office had consulted with Time’s Up leaders earlier this year as Cuomo formulated his strategy to combat allegations made by Lindsey Boylan, the first woman to publicly accuse Cuomo of harassment.

Kaplan, Rosen and Tchen, who served as chief of staff to former First Lady Michelle Obama, were among the high-powered women who founded Time’s Up and, until last month, were among its most active board members.

Time’s Up said Bandele and an outside consultant will assess the organization with input from stakeholders.

Four board members will remain with the organization to help with the transition — advertising agency executive Colleen DeCourcy; Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, deputy director of All on the Line, a group that opposes political gerrymandering; actor Ashley Judd; and Gabrielle Sulzberger, a strategic advisor to a private equity fund.

“Time’s Up is ready for new leadership, and we want to move forcefully toward its new iteration,” the organization said in a statement on its website.

The crisis at Time’s Up comes four years after the Harvey Weinstein scandal galvanized the #MeToo movement, prompting a parade of Hollywood elite led by Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon to proclaim their campaign at the 2018 Golden Globes Awards show. Time’s Up raised $20 million to help sex abuse victims mount legal cases.

Times staff writer Meg James contributed to this report.

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