Tina Tchen, a Chicago attorney who served as Michelle Obama’s chief-of-staff, was tapped as the new chief executive of the national advocacy organization “Time’s Up” on Monday.
“[We’re going to] work hard at the root cause of sexual harassment: because sexual harassment occurs when we have workplaces that aren’t diverse, that aren’t inclusive, that don’t respect their workers,” Tchen said in the announcement on Twitter. “And so we’re going to work with companies, with employers, with employees to make those workplaces ones that are safe, respectful, and where everyone can reach their full potential.”
Tchen co-founded Time’s Up’s legal-defense fund, the organization’s signature initiative to offer legal support for women in all industries facing workplace sexual harassment. The fund has so far raised more than $24 million.
Tchen, who was tapped in March to review a series of workplace-harassment allegations for the Southern Poverty Law Center, played a key role in the dropping of 16 felony charges against actor Jessie Smollett, who falsely claimed to be the target of a racially-motivated attack.
Per reporting from the Chicago Sun Times, Tchen, reportedly at the request of Smollett’s family, texted Cook County state attorney Kim Foxx to ask that she persuade Chicago Police Department superintendent Eddie Johnson to turn Smollett’s case over to the FBI. Tchen claims she made the request out of a desire to prevent media leaks.
Just days after Smollett claimed the crime had occurred, Foxx replied to Tchen saying she had made her case to Eddie Johnson, who ultimately refused to relinquish control over the probe.
“OMG this would be a huge victory,” Tchen wrote in response to a text message from Foxx. “I make no guarantees,” Foxx answered, “but I’m trying.”
Foxx later recused herself from the case, a move that prompted a letter from the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police asking the Department of Justice to open an investigation into Foxx’s handling of the situation. In June, a Chicago judge appointed a special prosecutor to look into the matter and suggested that Foxx acted improperly in her decision to hand over the case to a top deputy.
Michelle Obama took to Twitter to celebrate the announcement.
I’m thrilled that @TIMESUPNOW named @TinaTchen—one of the most brilliant and purposeful leaders I’ve ever worked with—as its new president and CEO. I’ve seen how Tina’s hustle and intellect can transform policies and touch lives, and I can’t wait to see her thrive in this role! https://t.co/iWxPIaRQv0
— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) October 7, 2019