Survivors of Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking Celebrated by Chaka Khan, Macy Gray, Nelly, Marcia Gay Harden, Lana Parrilla, Nicole Sullivan, Jo Frost and More

Face forward honors survivors of human trafficking and domestic violence.

​Face Forward, a charity that provides pro-bono reconstructive surgery for victims of domestic violence, victims of violent crimes and whom recently added victims of human trafficking, held their 6th annual fundraising gala celebrating survivors which was attended by a star studded roster of celebrities. Face Forward works with organizations from all over the country and newly expanding around the world, to find patients that have overcome the horrific consequences of violent crimes such as domestic violence and human trafficking and would benefit from correcting the physical scars that are still left behind. Dr. David Alessi and his wife and organization founder Deborah Alessi, work tirelessly to identify and transform these victims so that they can leave behind the physical stars to face forward to a new life.

Celebrities that attended included Nelly, “Sugar” Shane Mosley, La Toya Jackson, Luis Guzman, Bonnie Somerville, Marcia Gay Harden, Jo Frost, Ben Hollingsworth, John Savage, Kevin Frazier, Lu Parker, Lana Parrilla, Shaun Taub, Shantel Jackson and performances by Macy Gray and Chaka Kahn lit up the evening and had the crowd up on their feet.

The most poignant part of the evening was a story featured by a young woman referenced as NJ who is a survivor of 15 years of sex trafficking, human slavery, drug addiction and violent physical abuse. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house listening to her firsthand account and even more impressive was her attitude of perseverance and optimism for the future magnified by her excitement to work with Face Forward.

Recognition was given to La Toya Jackson for so openly speaking about her personal experience with control and abuse and her inspiring woman of all ages and lifestyles to get out and start over.  LAPD human trafficking division who saved NJ, received recognition for their work in handling these atrocious crimes on humanity. Dr. Karen Kay Imagawa from CHLA, also received an award for the work she does with children who are victims as young as two.

The celebrities themselves were generous not only with their attendance and support but they all made generous donations and offered themselves for fundraising. I am touched that the talent that supported us by attending were so inspired to help that they continued their generosity throughout the night - I am truly grateful,” said founder Deborah Alessi “tonight was really about the survivors, the sponsors and the organizations that help us to do the incredible work we do to change the lives of these survivors” said Deborah Alessi.

Over $500,000 was raised which will make 2016 a great year for a lot of patients. We couldn’t do what we do without our amazing sponsors like, Etihad Airways, Turkish Airlines, Ebay Auction Cause, Casey Cunningham, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and Luna Gardens Events.

About Face Forward:

Face Forward founder and CEO Mrs. Deborah Alessi founded Face Forward in 2007. Mrs. Alessi is a survivor of domestic violence and as a  true advocate of this worthy cause was recently awarded a “Community Hero Award” from the Los Angeles Dodgers recognizing her for her efforts. To help other survivors get a second chance at life, Mrs. Alessi recruited her husband and renowned facial reconstructive surgeon Dr. David Alessi M.D. The couple work constantly to help victim 'face forward' to the rest of their lives. Face Forward is a 501© non-profit organization. Since its creation Face Forward has worked with other advocates around the nation to identify victims of domestic violence who are working towards recovery, yet carry the physical evidence of past abuse. Face Forward does more than just provide pro bono reconstructive surgery to adults and children who have suffered from traumatic and physical abuse; they also create a welcoming and safe environment for the victims to start a new life and reclaim their confidence. With domestic violence occurring every 15 seconds in the United States, Face Forward strives to alleviate the internal and external scars of victims and those affected. Ninety percent of all rape and abuse cases lead to physical disfigurement and Face Forward provides treatment to victims who are not able to afford medical assistance.

About Chaka Khan:

In 1999, Chaka established the Chaka Khan Foundation, which includes a variety of programs and initiatives that assist women and children at risk. In 2013, the Chaka Khan Foundation combined forces with Community Partners to continue and expand its reach into the community, where it continues to do so.   In July, 2012, Chaka received the McDonald’s Corporation 365Black Award, honoring her for her leadership of the Chaka Khan Foundation. Besides being a successful musician and a devoted philanthropist, she is also a successful entrepreneur, having  launched a line of gourmet chocolates, Chakalates, which was sold in 20 Neiman Marcus stores around the country. In 2013, she introduced the Khana Sutra candle, the first product in a fragrance line for men, women and the home.

Chaka, is also the recipient of numerous awards for her extraordinary achievements in music and entertainment including a street named after her in Chicago (her hometown) – “Chaka Khan Way,” a BET Honors Award, induction into the Apollo Legends Hall of Fame and the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame; a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and with the United Negro College Fund’s An Evening of Stars Tribute; a Soul Train Legend Award, a BET Lifetime Achievement Award, the GRAMMY® Honors Award from the NARAS Chicago Chapter, a World Music Lifetime Achievement Award, and an Honorary Doctorate of Music from the Berklee School of Music in Boston, MA.

Chaka Khan was born Yvette Stevens in 1953. She grew up in Chicago, Illinois, the eldest of five siblings. As teenagers, she and her sister Bonnie formed a singing group, The Crystalettes, with two friends from school, and Chaka later sang with several local groups before she became the lead singer for the band Ask Rufus, which would become Rufus. With Chaka the group immediately began turning out hit after hit, and it was the beginning of a legendary music career.

Living for a time in London and Germany, she currently resides in Los Angeles. She has two children, Indira Milini and Damien. Her life and career are chronicled in her autobiography, Through the Fire, which was published by Rodale Books in 2003 and is currently being updated for re-release and adapted into a screenplay.   Another book featuring the music and lyrics of many of her hit songs, The Chaka Khan Songbook, was released this past December.

Chaka Khan recently celebrated her 40th anniversary in music and entertainment.  A documentary series on her, “Being,” premiered on the Centric Channel and recent career highlights include tour dates around the world (London, Singapore, Prague, Dubai, NYC, et al), a performance on The Wendy Williams Show, an event in her honor at NARAS/Grammy headquarters in Los Angeles, an appearance with Sam Smith on VH1, special performances for Ebony and Essence Magazines, and being named Grand Marshal for Chicago's Bud Billiken Parade, the largest and oldest African American parade.

Chaka is currently at work on a new CD, set for release later in 2016.  

About Macy Gray:

A gifted songwriter and dazzling singer, the Grammy Award winning artist Macy Gray has been overturning fan expectation and industry formula since her debut 2000 album, On How Life Is. Both the album and classic single “I Try” were massive global hits. They kicked off a career ride that includes multiple Grammys and MTV awards, over 25 million units sold, and a thriving acting career.  Macy’s most recent album, The Way is now available on iTunes.

About Nicole Sullivan:

As a native New Yorker, Nicole has been acting since she was seven years old. She attended Northwestern University, where she spent four years studying the classics, including Shakespeare and Chekhov. After graduating on the Dean’s List, she joined the Greenwich Shakespeare Company.                 

In 1995, Sullivan joined the original cast of FOX smash hit “MADtv” as their youngest cast member.  In the six years she worked on the Fox late night sketch comedy show, she played numerous memorable characters such as the Vancome Lady, Antonia, and Darlene McBride; and was noticed for her sometimes scathing impersonations of celebrities like Britney Spears and Meg Ryan. 

After MAD, she joined the cast of “King of Queens” as Holly, the dog-walker for 5 years. Nicole has also been seen on “Scrubs", “Law & Order: SVU",  "Boston Legal", “Monk", "My Boys", "Whitney", “The Middle”, “Grey’s Anatomy”, recurring on "Cougar Town" playing Courtney Cox's therapist and currently recurring on “Blackish”. Nicole played Rita on 40 episodes of Lifetime’s “Rita Rocks” and was also a series regular on shows such as “Hot Properties”, “Raines”, "Shit My Dad Says" and Nick at Night’s “Wendell & Vinnie”.

As a comedic voice actor, Sullivan has lent her voice to numerous animated feature hits such as The Ant Bully, and Meet the Robinsons-  and to a number of popular animated television shows, among them “Kim Possible,” “Family Guy”, “Buzz Lightyear of Star Command", Netflix’sBoJack Horseman”  and the Emmy award winning "Penguins of Madagascar".           

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