Five years ago, the #MeToo movement made America and the world reckon with the pervasiveness of sexual violence. Shortly after #MeToo was popularized by Alyssa Milano on Twitter, celebrities founded the nonprofit organization Time’s Up. Although the organization has worked on several advocacy and policy initiatives since its inception, the nonprofit is shutting down—at least, as it currently stands.
In the fall of 2021, the organization did a major reset and made leadership changes. The switch occurred after some of its leaders were named in a scandal involving former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. More than a year since the leadership change, the organization has decided to focus solely on the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund.
According to board chair Gabrielle Sulzberger, the board of directors made the unanimous decision to cease all other operations. “It was not an easy decision,” Sulzberger admitted, “but the board was unanimous that it’s the right decision and the most impactful way we get to move forward.”
The board chair went on to say, “Very simply, the Legal Defense Fund really reflects who we were not only at our inception but really at our core. We really just decided that at the end of the day, we needed to go back to our roots,” reflected Sulzberger. “[The fund] was the first initiative that we formed and funded, and remains at the heart of everything we stood for.”
When the organization began on January 1, 2018, Time’s Up had received $24 million for their legal fund thanks to the splash it made on the Golden Globes that year. After spending most of that money in court cases since 2018, Time’s Up now has a total of $1.7 million.
Evidently, the National Women’s Law Center in Washington, D.C. administers the legal defense fund to workers who have been sexually assaulted. According to Uma Iyer, the law center’s vice president of marketing and communications, the legal fund has supported more than 4,700 workers with legal services and funded 350 cases of the 500 that applied for assistance.
As the organization shifts its focus, employment and civil rights lawyer Debra Katz praised Time’s Up for entering into a new phase. As she said, “This shows the power of [the #MeToo] movement because victims of sexual violence came forward and said, ‘We’re not going to countenance this [conflict] within our organization.’ It shows the power of individuals demanding clarity in their organizations and leaders.”
Hopefully the change in operations will allow Time’s Up to provide even more life-changing legal services to survivors of sexual violence.