2017 Joyful Revolution Gala: Ignite Change. Spark Joy.

Thursday, 15 June 2017
New York, NY

Joyful Heart Foundation celebrated the strength of a community determined to support survivors and to transform the way society responds to sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse on May 22, 2017 at its 10th annual Joyful Revolution Gala.

Joyful Heart’s Founder and President Mariska Hargitay thanked guests for their support at the event held at Spring Studios in downtown Manhattan. The evening gathered survivors, advocates, state legislators, New York City officials, actors, celebrity chefs, non-profit groups, Joyful Heart’s board of directors, and event and dinner co-chairs. It also featured moving performances from Kathryn Gallagher and Cynthia Erivo.

Joyful Heart honored Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. with the 2017 Heart of Gold Award for his dedication to testing backlogged rape kits across the United States. The award presentation reflected the gala’s spotlight on Joyful Heart’s campaign to end the backlog of hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits throughout the country.

“Seven years ago, I encountered the clearest, most shocking, most deeply dismaying demonstration of how the crime of sexual assault—and women—are regarded in this country.”

I encountered the national rape kit backlog,” Mariska said. “I was outraged. And that is an understatement.”

The gala drew several celebrity guests to the blue carpet in support of Joyful Heart’s work. They included Mario Batali, Robert John Burke, Ellen Burstyn, Anthony Edwards, Raúl Esparza, Peter Gallagher, Kelli Giddish, Isabel Gillies, Peter Hermann, Mark Herzlich, Jemima Kirke, Stephanie March, Debra Messing, Marc Murphy, Emma Myles, Kathy Najimy, Peter Scanavino, Bonnie Somerville, Ali Wentworth, and Mare Winningham.

Utah State Representative Angela Romero, Georgia State Representative Scott Holcomb, Wayne County, Illinois Prosecutor Kym Worthy, author Linda Fairstein, and staff from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office were also in attendance.



Actress Debra Messing kicked off the evening, with a recorded message from Ice-T, Mariska’s fellow cast member on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Debra discussed the evening’s theme: Ignite Change. Spark Joy.

“Our goal tonight is to elevate hope. That’s why ignite change is our call to action,” Debra said. “Our goal is to change the way people think about this violence, about survivors, and about those who cause harm.

“And we want to spark joy. Joy is built into the very DNA of Joyful Heart.”

The gala highlighted the nationwide rape kit backlog and featured a clip from the HBO documentary I AM EVIDENCE, directed by Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Trish Adlesic and Geeta Gandbhir and produced by Mariska. Joyful Heart is the social action campaign partner of the film, which premiered in April 2017 at the Tribeca Film Festival. I AM EVIDENCE follows the stories of four survivors whose rape kits remained untested for years, revealing a broken criminal justice system that has left a startling number of rape kits sitting on police storage shelves.

“With this film, as we elevate the voices of survivors, we aim to provoke outrage, to mobilize the public, to create a revolution,” Mariska told attendees.

Singer-songwriter Kathryn Gallagher, who made her Broadway debut in Spring Awakening, performed Andra Day’s Grammy-nominated song “Rise Up.” She asked the survivors who contributed to I AM EVIDENCE to stand and celebrate their bravery. As the room filled with applause, Kathryn encouraged all guests to stand in solidarity.

“Everybody join us in rising up for becoming a part of the solution,” Kathryn said during her emotional performance. 


Joyful Heart Board of Directors Chair Christina Norman spoke about the survivors’ bravery in sharing their stories and the importance of taking action to eliminate the rape kit backlog. She encouraged guests to donate to Joyful Heart’s initiatives to end this injustice.

“Learning about the hundreds of thousands of rape kits that are sitting on shelves untested across the country blew my mind. And it makes me mad,” Christina said. “I am so grateful to Mariska for making this film and exposing this national disgrace. I know you're as mad as I am, but here, tonight, there is something we can do about it.”

Former Law & Order: SVU cast member Stephanie March took to the stage to introduce Linda Fairstein, who presented the night’s honoree, Cyrus Vance, Jr.

“Cyrus has ensured that thousands and thousands of survivors of sexual assault, child abuse, and domestic violence will have the opportunity—no matter how long they have waited—to see their offenders brought to justice,” Linda said. “He works every day with dignity, grace, integrity, a passion for doing the right thing, and with creative brilliance.”

District Attorney Vance discussed the Office’s commitment to end the backlog with a $38 million investment in 2014 that has led to the testing of more than 56,000 kits in 32 jurisdictions in 20 states.

“The law is at its best when it reflects common wisdom, a commitment to core values, and an uncompromising commitment to justice,”  DA Vance said. “And the law is at its worst when it reflects prejudice and ignorance. Sadly, for too long, this was the case for the law of sexual assault.”

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office’s funds have already been able to identify assailants nearly half of the time through testing. One in four of these hits match DNA from other sexual assault cases. And more than a dozen tested kits match DNA evidence from sexual assault cases in another state.

“This work enables us to reach back in time, and correct decades of injustice for thousands of women and men in thousands of unsolved, and often cold, cases,” DA Vance said. “And that, my friends, is justice.”

Joyful Heart Board Member Peter Hermann followed DA Vance’s spirited speech to acknowledge the generosity attendees provide for the foundation’s programs. Guests used their smartphones to make donations throughout the evening with 100% of proceeds going directly to Joyful Heart’s programs, including helping meet our goal of enacting comprehensive rape kit reform in all 50 states by 2020. Stephanie Landess served as auctioneer as guests bid on exclusive packages, including playing a match with tennis great John McEnroe and Mariska, a VIP experience tour and house seats for Hamilton, a walk-on part on Law & Order: SVU, and a backstage tour of The Ellen DeGeneres Show with an opportunity to meet Ellen.

“None of what you've heard about Joyful Heart, and none of what you have heard about tonight, would be possible without your support,” Peter said before the auction began.

As the program came to a close, Tony Award-winner Cynthia Erivo of the critically acclaimed Broadway show The Color Purple gave two powerful performances, moving the crowd and reflecting the fierce, fearless community gathered in the room.

The gala’s joyous spirit continued into the FabFitFun Lounge where guests danced to music mixed by DJ Samantha Ronson. A lively crowd wrapped up the evening’s festivities as they enjoyed the lounge, hosted by The GenerationJOY Committee and sponsored by FabFitFun


We are grateful to our event leadership, especially co-chairs Jessica Mansell Ambrose, Christina Norman, Sukey Novogratz, and Carrie Shumway; our dinner chairs Lauran and Myrna Bromley, Linda Fairstein and Michael Goldberg, Sonia and Paul Jones, Debra Messing, Ali Wentworth and George Stephanopoulos, and Noelle and Dick Wolf; our board of directors; and Joyful Heart CEO Maile M. Zambuto.

We appreciate the generosity of our revolutionaries, including our joyful revolutionaries FabFitFun, Sukey and Michael Novogratz, and Carrie and Chris Shumway; fearless revolutionaries Mariska Hargitay and Peter Hermann, Sonia and Paul Jones, Jaime and Andrew Schwartzberg; courageous revolutionaries Anonymous, Lauran and Myrna Bromley, Cindy and Robert Citrone, Sasha Gerritson and Eugene Jarvis, GTE Agency, ThoughtMatter, Verizon, and Wolf Films; compassionate revolutionaries Jessica M. and Colin Ambrose, Beth and Anthony Armstrong, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Bulldog Ball Club, Renee Cafaro, Christie Davidson and Anton Pil, Linda Fairstein and Michael Goldberg, HCVT, Mellody Hobson, Lorraine Kirke, Roberta Mariani, The McTamaney Family, Heather Mnuchin, National Football League, New York Giants, Christina Norman and Charles Hunt, Perelman Family Foundation, The Schrager Family, Shari Soward with RBC Wealth Management, Amanda and Bart Stephens, Viacom, and Ali Wentworth and George Stephanopoulos; and bold revolutionaries Hilaria and Alec Baldwin Foundation, Creative Artists Agency, Erica and Evan Fisher, HBO Documentary Films, Hermine and David B. Heller, Danielle and Mark Herzlich, Linda and Peter Jankowski, Molly Kaplan and Jonathan Kaplan, Judy McGrath, Leah and Michael King, Alexa Lambert and Chauncey Parker, Susan and Martin Melson, Debbie Millman, Iva and Scott Mills, Barbara O’Donnell Simpson, and Peg Tyre and Peter Blauner.

We are grateful for the support of our benefit committee: Ambassador Elizabeth Frawley Bagley, Anonymous, The Armand G. Erpe Fund, Suzanne Brogger, Dr. Ellen J. Brooks and Mr. Marshall Cohen, Robby Browne, Nicole Bullock, Carianne Carleo-Evangelist, Jessica and Bryan Cho, Civitas Public Affairs Group, Robert Cohen, Glenn Close, Boykin Curry, Emily Davis and Andy Gershon, Kimberly Eads and Kathryn Fee, Brandon Elias and Michael Gray, Raúl Esparza and Bill Curran, Colleen and Peter Fatooh, Arlene Gail and Denise Gellis, Isabel Gillies and Peter Lattman, Kathy and Paul Giusti, Deborah and Allen Grubman, Elisabeth Halfpapp and Fred DeVito, Karen Hauser and Warren Leight, Rachel Howald, Katie Leede and Averill Powers, Deanna Leodas and Mark Schmidt, Stephanie March, Julie Martin, Roswitha Mueller-Agarwal and A.J. Agarwal, Kathy Najimy, Mary Kathryn and Alex Navab, the NBA, the WNBA, Suzanne B. Nichols, Esq., Ilene Osherow and Susan Schuman, Perri Peltz Ruttenberg and Eric Ruttenberg, Maureen and Todd Pierce, Lilly and Danny Pino, Karen and Mark Polivka, Brooke Rahmanan, Jane Randel and Robbie Karp, Robin Renzi, Susan Salice, Lisha and Peter Scanavino, Pamela Schein-Murphy and Marc Murphy, Lauren E. Simpson, Brittany Stewart, Victoria Stokes and Tom Schultz, Veronica Toub, Eileen and Jeffrey Wallach, Cathrine White, Mare Winningham and Anthony Edwards, Tanya Zaben and Christoph Knoess, and Edward Zuckerman.

We also thank our corporate sponsors Wolf Films, ThoughtMatter, Verizon, and GTE Agency.

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