Crisis Text Line CEO ousted after staff expose culture of discrimination


After examples of discrimination, micro-aggression, emotional abuse and tokenism at Crisis Text Line exploded on Twitter, the nonprofit’s board ousted its CEO.

Nancy Lublin was removed from her position and sits on the board of directors on Friday, according to a statement from the organization’s board of directors, as former employees shared on Twitter. The dismissal comes after employees staged a two-day virtual walkout and hashtag #notmycrisistextline has become a magnet for accusations about the toxic internal culture of the mental health service.

“The crisis line of text is not the safe and welcoming place it should be. We recognize and apologize for our role in enabling this environment to persist. We are fully accountable and ready to address these issues head-on. No form of racism or intimidation of any kind will be tolerated at Crisis Text Line,” the statement said. Mashable contacted Crisis Text Line for comment. We also tried to contact Lublin via LinkedIn.

It also notes that the Board of Directors had been aware of “inappropriate conduct” since 2018, but had not taken any action.

Crisis Text Line is not the only organization with a social good bent in the face of a calculation that employees are talking about amid the mass protests against systemic racism taking place on the streets across America. Earlier this week, progressive media brands Refinery29 and Man Repeller were also exposed for their own hypocrisies.

Founded in 2013, Crisis Text Line has made a name for itself by leveraging data and technology to innovate its text hotline. Rather than using a first-come, first-served system, Crisis Text Line uses an algorithm to identify those who need the most urgent help. The organization has partnered with big names in technology and entertainment such as Reddit and Riot Games and has received millions of dollars in funding from Kate Spade New York and Netflix 13 Reasons why.

Meanwhile, employees say their passion for the cause that brought them to Crisis Text Line in the first place eroded after years of being overworked, underpaid, and emotionally abused. Former employees also complained on Twitter that they had been silenced by non-disclosure agreements they signed when they left the organization.

Do Something, a non-profit organization that helps young people inspire change, was also caught up in the wave. Crisis Text Line was an offshoot of Do Something, which Lublin directed before founding the hotline service. The former Do Something staff also echoed similar concerns about a toxic workplace on Twitter.

A coalition of Crisis Text Line volunteers wrote a list of requests prior to Lublin’s termination. His ouster was at the top of the list. They also called for “a platform where we can openly disavow the racism we see without it turning into a witch hunt” and official communication of the line’s crisis line that recognizes past mistakes and describes how they will be fixed.

As part of its statement announcing Lublin’s departure, the Board of Directors has committed to opening two positions to people of color and to organize anti-racist training for board members on an ongoing basis, starting this summer. They also promised to “immediately reject crisis advisers who exhibit racist behaviour.”

The non-profit organization plans to hold a town hall to further discuss plans to develop an anti-racist workplace next week.


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