New Time’s Up manager vows to be open after Cuomo scandal


Almost four years ago, a group of prominent Hollywood women – producers, agents, movie stars – formed Time’s Up, an ambitious initiative to tackle sexual harassment in their own industry and beyond, as the #MeToo calculation was taking root.

“It’s very difficult for us to speak righteously about the rest of anything if we haven’t cleaned up our own house,” aid producer Shonda Rhimes, one of those powerful women, told the time.

She was talking about Hollywood. But now Time’s Up itself is on a mission to clean up its own home – and save its very existence – after a damaging scandal that forced the departure of its chief executive, Tina Tchen, following revelations that group executives advised the former governor of New York. Andrew Cuomo’s administration after he was first charged with misconduct last year.

Tchen’s replacement, Monifa Bandele, said the struggling organization, re-evaluating its structure, will operate with a new openness and re-dedicate itself to ‘power of the people‘, giving a strong voice to women of all backgrounds. horizons.

“What we need to do to move forward is to make sure… that in the driver’s seat of Time’s Up, we also have women who are farm workers, who are restaurant workers, who are domestic workers like my own grandmother was, ”Bandele told The Associated Press in an interview this week, her first since taking interim leadership of the organization. (She said she was eager to take on the role permanently).

Bandele, 50, who joined Time’s Up last fall as chief operating officer, says she has played no role in the much-criticized relationship with the Cuomo administration and that she does. was unaware until the release of the New York Attorney General’s detailed report, which concluded Cuomo had sexually harassed at least 11 women.

She said the revamped organization, which is currently working with a consultant, will pay close attention to the inherent dangers of being connected to those in power, asking, “What are our conflicts of interest, who are our guardians?” crazy?

When asked what was the best way to do it, she replied that it was to “open it”.

“You have to involve the community you represent in an ongoing feedback loop,” she said.

It could have prevented Cuomo’s damaging episode, she added. “These are the mistakes our organization made and we want to learn from them,” she said. “We want to use this crisis as an opportunity to be in the right relationship with the other organizations in our movement.”

Tchen’s resignation on August 26 follows the early departure of the organization’s president, Roberta Kaplan. The two women had angered Time’s Up supporters with the idea that they had offered help to Cuomo, and that Tchen had initially discouraged other Time’s Up executives from publicly commenting on the allegations of one of his accusers. , Lindsey Boylan.

A member of the now disbanded Time’s Up global board, Tarana Burke, the founder of #MeToo, described it as a young organization with good intentions struggling with how to manage the power of its highly connected founding members and visible.

“I think they need to do a lot of soul searching,” she told the AP in a recent interview. “They may have to figure out how to work differently, that they have to give up some power (…) in order to do the job well, the way people trust. “

Power, said Burke, “can be very difficult to navigate if you’re not really careful. “

Bandele said she agreed.

“It’s one of my mantras, isn’t it?” If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, you go together, ”she said. “It involves a lot of voices. This is to make sure that the people who need to be seen and heard, that there is an intentional mechanism for them to be seen and heard, as the default is for other people who have a high profile. -form to be seen and heard.

Time’s Up was launched in January 2018 following astonishing revelations about mogul Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct. More than 300 women in entertainment – from Rhimes to actors Reese Witherspoon and Eva Longoria – have signed an open letter that established them as founders.

A few days later, at the Golden Globes, participants donned black in solidarity and sported Time’s Up pins. Oprah Winfrey delivered an impassioned speech saying that for powerful men who abuse, “their time is up! “

Celebrities will always play a role in the organization, Bandele said. Earlier this month, board members tendered their resignations and the star-studded board was dissolved; Bandele described it as an opportunity to rebuild his management team. But she said some members would return.

“Our celebrities, our creatives and the entertainment industry will play a key role in our progress,” she said. “But there will be fairness as to who is leading this movement.”

Anita Hill, now a powerful symbol of the #MeToo movement 30 years ago since testifying against Clarence Thomas in Congress, said she was convinced Time’s Up would bounce back from its crisis “by placing survivors and victims first in all the work they do “. Hill chairs the Hollywood Commission, which combats harassment in the entertainment industry, and was on Time’s Up’s disbanded advisory board.

Hill said in an interview that she hopes people will remember Time’s Up’s role in implementing legislation in New York City that extends the statute of limitations for rape and sexual assault. “It’s permanent,” she says.

Boosters of Time’s Up points to its legal defense fund. Hosted and administered by the National Women’s Law Center in Washington, it was created to help those subject to complaints of workplace misconduct – especially those who cannot afford legal aid – by funding their businesses or providing assistance. putting them in contact with lawyers. It has raised just over $ 27 million, most during its inception, and funded nearly 300 legal cases.

Bandele, a longtime activist and activist, came to Time’s Up from MomsRising, an advocacy group for mothers and families. She has also worked extensively on police reform. She took the helm as interim leader three weeks ago; she says she’s been on a listening tour and is also working on a new action plan.

“I can’t wait to share it,” she says. “Because people are waiting, aren’t they? People want Time’s Up. I haven’t spoken to anyone directly who doesn’t want Time’s Up to exist.

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