The 2016 Joyful Revolution Gala: Wouldn't It Be Great If...

Monday, 23 May 2016
New York, NY

On Tuesday, May 10, we gathered for our 2016 Joyful Revolution Gala at one of the great cultural institutions of the world: Lincoln Center's David Geffen Hall, in the heart of New York City. 

With our Founder & President, Mariska Hargitay; our gala co-chairs Jessica M. Ambrose, Lorraine Kirke, Sukey Novogratz, and Carrie Shumway; our staff; board of directors; and broader community in attendance, we were proud to honor Vice President Joe Biden for his commitment to ending violence against women and girls, and with Verizon, a company with a long-standing and fierce commitment to ending domestic violence. A chorus of voices joined us on stage throughout the evening  to celebrate these heroes and our progress: Peter Hermann, Tina Fey, Queen Latifah, Natalie Merchant, Anthony Edwards, Samantha Ronson, Raúl Esparza, Jemima Kirke, Mark and Danielle Herzlich, Kaumaka‘iwa Kanaka‘ole, Kekuhi Keali‘ikanaka‘oleohaililani, Shawn Pimental, and more. 

At this year’s gala, our theme was also a question: “Wouldn’t it be great if...”

  • Wouldn’t it be great if there was a national commitment to helping survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse heal and reclaim their lives?” 
  • “Wouldn’t it be great if we could transform society’s response to these issues?” 
  • “Wouldn’t it be great if we could unite our community to end this violence?” 

Since Joyful Heart’s beginning, we have asked this question. It’s filled with hope, vision, and aspiration, and it not only guided our inception, it has also fueled our remarkable growth. 

That question—”wouldn’t it be great if..?”—and the bold thinking it represents, informed the entirety of our evening: a new, bigger venue into which we could welcome more of our community of supporters and members of the public. Our incredible honorees. And the unveiling of our newly evolved mark and mission:

Our mission is to transform society's response to sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse, support survivors' healing, and end this violence forever.

Our evening began with cocktails and supper for our gala sponsors on the promenade as flashes went off around the red carpet as celebrity guests arrived, including: Mario Batali, Peter Blauner, Robert Burke, Ellen Burstyn, Anthony Edwards, Raúl Esparza, Kelli Giddish, Isabel Gillies, Peter Hermann, Mark Herzlich, Andy Karl, Devon Kennard, Daniel Dae Kim, Stephanie March, Natalie Merchant, Marc Murphy, Kathy Najimy, Leslie Odom Jr., Danny Pino, Samantha Ronson, Peter Scanavino, Miriam Shor, George Stephanopolous, Ali Wentworth, Joe Torre, Andre Williams, and more. 

As 8pm approached, Peter Hermann, Joyful Heart board member, then took a moment to welcome guests. Guests poured into the performance hall to take their seats for the show, which began with Kaumaka‘iwa Kanaka‘ole, Kekuhi Keali‘ikanaka‘oleohaililani, and Shawn Pimental. They performed two beautiful songs and delivered an oli (chant) in Hawaiian. They also presented Joyful Heart with a ho‘okupu (gift), accepted by board member Dr. Valli Kalei Kanuha. She explained its significance: a ceremonial offering to honor and express gratitude, offered in remembrance not only of where Joyful Heart started, but that each of us is grounded in the place and commitment where this work began, in Hawai‘i.  

Tina Fey then shared her own “wouldn’t it be great if…” ideas, which ranged from the downright hilarious—”wouldn’t it be great it you could eat your way out of a room full of french fries?”—to the more poignant—“wouldn’t it be great if lawmakers spent less time imagining what a trans person might hypothetically do in a Walmart bathroom (spoiler alert: go to the bathroom) and more time focusing on what some of our families’ most trusted athletic coaches and religious teachers have definitely been doing for years?”. 

She welcomed Joyful Heart’s CEO, Maile Zambuto, onto the stage, who expressed our gratitude to our event sponsors and community; shared an overview of Joyful Heart’s work, programs, and accomplishments with the audience; and introduced our evolved mission and mark. In describing our new mark, she said: 

“Tonight, for the first time,we share our symbol, and we embrace a new, distinct, emboldened heart. We embrace the crucial space at its center—in the heart of the heart—where a survivor meets community, community meets survivor, and both are transformed—and made more whole.”

She was followed by our second performer of the evening, Natalie Merchant, who would join us for three songs throughout the night. Her first, appropriately, was “Kind and Generous.”

Queen Latifah then came onto the stage to introduce the evening’s first honoree, Verizon, whose Heart of Gold Award was accepted by Rose Stuckey Kirk, Chief Social Responsibility Officer and President of the Verizon Foundation. In her remarks, Rose touched upon the many ways Verizon leads the corporate world in addressing these issues. From employee relocation assistance for survivors of domestic violence, to training and volunteerism for employees at all levels, to its HopeLine program that has donated more than $100 million to support domestic violence programs, Verizon is an example of a company taking on violence against women. And for Rose, this work is personal. Her sister, Benita Gale, was a victim of domestic violence. It is in her honor, and in honor of all survivors, that she leads this work with Verizon.

After Rose’s remarks, Anthony Edwards spoke about one of Joyful Heart’s major initiatives from this past year: the Male Survivors NO MORE PSA campaign. The series, released in February 2016, aired first on Viacom’s channels, then USA Network, and have been airing on stations across the country ever since. Anthony spoke to how proud he was to participate in the campaign to help share a message with the 21 million men who have experienced childhood sexual abuse: you are not alone. 

Raúl Esparza then came to the stage and performed an incredible rendition of “Til It Happens to You,” Lady Gaga and Diane Warren’s Oscar-nominated song from The Hunting Ground, a piercing documentary about rape on college campuses. Filled with passion, anger and compassion, Raúl’s performance brought the crowd to its feet for a standing ovation, and left Mariska speechless as she stepped up to the podium. After a moment of reflection, she turned towards our next honoree, the Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden, whom we honored with the Finnegan Award, named for his grandfather. In her remarks, she touched upon the impact of his work: 

“I admire the Vice President's choice, day by day, moment by moment, to walk the harder path: deeper feeling, more compassion, more outrage. I will also say that this path—and the Vice President's priorities—cannot only be his. Hard-won progress in rape kit reform, bystander engagement on college campuses, as well as the vital position of the White House Advisor on Violence Against Women, will be entrusted to the next administration, and I cannot overstate the importance of not only honoring that trust, but carrying this work forward. 

“...The Vice President's answer to why he does this work? Because it's the right thing to do.”

The Vice President, who attended with his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, spoke passionately about these issues. He recalled early lessons from his family and, specifically, his father, who taught him about cowardice and power. He spoke about the passage of the Violence Against Women Act, which he authored in 1994, and the landscape around the issues of sexual assault and domestic violence at that time—when domestic violence was considered a “private matter” and there was a common understanding that rape is not rape if committed by a friend, partner or loved one. Frequently straying from his planned remarks with deeply powerful and personal anecdotes, the Vice President focused on an impassioned call to action for the next generation: more than laws and legislation, we must change the culture that allows sexual assault and domestic violence to exist.

After the Vice President concluded—again, to a standing ovation from the audience—we moved into the auction. With auctioneers Charles Antin and Lydia Fenet, and with the help of board members Mark and Danielle Herzlich, our community auctioned off exciting packages—all donated experiences, and all with proceeds benefiting our work. They included evening out with Mariska to Hamilton; an afternoon on the greens with Samuel L. Jackson; set visits, singing lessons and more with the cast of Younger; and your very own tailgate and game of flag football with some New York Giants! Those who wanted to put their money to support our work directly also contributed generously to our call for donations in the room and by texting a pledge. In total, our community brought our evening’s fundraising to $2.2 million—our most successful gala fundraiser ever.

With a final performance from Natalie Merchant and short closing remarks from Mariska, our program concluded. This evening, perhaps more than any other in our history, was truly the realization of our theme and message for the night—”wouldn’t it be great if…” It was a privilege to bring our supporters and a broader community of advocates, supporters, and survivors  together to honor our progress, to look forward, to dream and chart a course for realizing  our vision of a world free of sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse. 

We are inspired and humbled by the artists, speakers and performers who gave their voices and spirit to our cause. We are deeply grateful to our event sponsors and donors whose support is nothing short of revolutionary. 

We are in awe of our team who made it possible—our event chairs, planning committee, board of directors, staff, and the team at Innovative Philanthropy, Rafanelli Events and Production Glue. And we are most of all grateful to all who joined us to celebrate the Joyful Revolution. This evening—and our work—would not be possible without you. 

Event Co-Chairs
Jessica M. Ambrose
 Lorraine Kirke
Sukey Novogratz 
Carrie Shumway 
Joyful Revolutionaries 
NBC Entertainment 
Sukey and Michael Novogratz 
Wolf Films 

Fearless Revolutionaries 
Kathy and Mark Alexander 
Mariska Hargitay and Peter Hermann 
Sonia and Paul Jones 
Carrie and Chris Shumway 

Courageous Revolutionaries
Bloomberg Philanthropies
Lauran and Myrna Bromley
Cindy and Robert Citrone
GTE Agency
Perelman Family Foundation
Jaime and Andrew Schwartzberg

Compassionate Revolutionaries
Jessica M. Ambrose and Colin AmbroseNational Football League 
Beth and Anthony Armstrong National Hockey League  
Christie Davidson and Anton PilChristina Norman and Charles Hunt 
Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP Jacqueline Novogratz and Chris Anderson 
Michele and Frank Dominick Tom Nunan 
Linda Fairstein and Michael Goldberg The Schrager Family 
Mark and Danielle HerzlichStanley Schneider 
Lynn and Jim Lally2nd Time Around
Alexa Lambert and Chauncey Parker  Molly M. Smith
Roberta Mariani Amanda and Bart Stephens
 The McTamaney FamilyUSA Network
Heather Mnuchin Ali Wentworth and George Stephanopoulos

Benefit Committee
 Ambassador Elizabeth Frawley BagleyKathy Giusti, MMRF  Shari Mason, RBC Wealth Management
Hilaria and Alec Baldwin Foundation  Tara Lynda Guber Debra Messing
 Peter Blauner and Peg TyreDeborah and Allen Grubman  Poppy Montgomery and Shawn Sanford
 Robby Browne Mary Haft  Pamela Schein-Murphy and Marc Murphy
 Nicole Bullock  Elisabeth Halfpapp and Fred DeVito NBA | WNBA
 Robert John Burke Karen Hauser and Warren Leight  The New York Giants
 Ellen Burstyn Ice-T and Coco  Maria Popova
Bulldog Ball Club | Steve DeBlasiMarin Ireland Lilly and Danny Pino
 Renee Cafaro Linda and Peter Jankowski  Diane Cossa-Platt and Thomas Platt
 Susan Cahn and Mario Batali Valli Kalei Kanuha and Kata Issari  Robin Renzi
 Kathy Condon and Lara Condon Molly and Jonathan Kaplan  Mara Robin | HCVT
  Creative Artists Agency Andy Karl and OrfehPeter and Lisha Scanavino
 Emily Davis and Andy Gershon Joe KaminkowFran Stachnick and Jimmy Siano
 Jean de SogonzacLeah and Michael KingJonathan Starch
Raul Esparza and Bill Curran  Deanna Leodas and Mark SchmidtHilary Swank
 Deborra-Lee Furness and Hugh Jackman Luther Burbank SavingsLeanna Tavoso
Kelli Giddish and Lawrence Faulborn   Robert Sean Leonard and Gabriella SalickMare Winningham and Anthony Edwards
 Isabel Gillies and Peter Lattman  Susie and Rene LopezEdward Zuckerman
  Stephanie March 
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