Tina Tchen Takes Charge: Michelle Obama’s Former Chief of Staff Is the New President and CEO of Time’s Up

Times Up Legal Defense Fund, Tina Tchen speaks onstage during the New York Women’s Foundation’s 2018 “Celebrating Women” breakfast on May 10, 2018, in New York City.
Times Up Legal Defense Fund, Tina Tchen speaks onstage during the New York Women’s Foundation’s 2018 “Celebrating Women” breakfast on May 10, 2018, in New York City.
Photo: Monica Schipper (Getty Images for The New York Women’s Foundation)

Eight months after the untimely departure of former Time’s Up President Lisa Borders, the women’s advocacy organization has a new head—with a familiar face. Tina Tchen, co-founder of the organization’s Legal Defense Fund, is perhaps best known as Chief of Staff to forever first lady Michelle Obama, who tweeted about her former staff member’s newest role on Monday.


Another member of the Obama administration, former senior advisor Valerie Jarrett, who co-chairs the United State of Women with Tchen, also sent her congratulations, tweeting: “Outstanding news!! The absolutely best leader for this vitally important position.”

As for Tchen herself, the attorney who has more than 30 years’ experience advocating for diversity and inclusion, said in a statement:

I have been a single working mother throughout my career, and I have never witnessed such an inspiring and honest conversation about the challenges facing women and all workers, including sexual harassment, power, and equity. I am more optimistic than ever that we can create workplaces where everyone has an equal opportunity to reach their full potential and, in this new role, I’m determined to make it happen.

“Tina knows the power and opportunity of Time’s Up as a valuable ally helping bring this organization to life early on,” said Shonda Rhimes, one of the organization’s founders. “Tina’s talent and unique skill set perfectly suit her for this role and time and will help ensure our continued progress towards meaningful change.”


One of the organization’s first changes is the launch of the TIME’S UP Impact Lab, which “will pioneer research driving toward public policy, private sector, and culture change to address sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination, as well as broader systemic inequality and injustice at work,” according to a statement, which also outlined the Impact Lab’s initiatives (quoted below):

  • Changing workplace culture to prevent sexual harassment, abuse, retaliation, and other forms of discrimination before it starts and protect workers when it happens;
  • Removing barriers at work so women have a fair shot at success and security;
  • Increasing women’s representation and power at every level of every industry; and
  • Developing sustained partnerships with business leaders, advocates, and global change makers fighting for respectful, inclusive, and equitable work.

“I am optimistic about the change we all want—and need—to see in this country because of organizations like TIME’S UP that drive forward progress for all women,” said Melinda Gates, whose Pivotal Ventures made the Impact Lab possible. “The Impact Lab is a critical initiative to ensure that the workplace becomes what it should be: a place where everyone can thrive, not a barrier to safety and success.”

Maiysha Kai is managing editor of The Glow Up, host of The Root Presents: It's Lit! podcast and Big Beauty Tuesdays, and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door. May I borrow some sugar?