Press Release

2021 Gala for Child Protection to Be Held Virtually

Child advocates around the globe will unite for the 2021 Virtual Gala for Child Protection to celebrate the accomplishments of the past year and boldly envision a safer future for every child

The International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children Virtual Gala for Child Protection will premiere on April 29, 2021, at 12:30 pm ET, 6:30 pm CET, and will remain available to stream throughout May. Natalie Morales, West Coast Anchor of NBC’s “Today Show” and Dateline NBC Correspondent will host this year’s virtual event. During the program, Senator Tim Kaine will share remarks on the importance of a unified approach to keep children safe. Grace Hightower will be welcomed as Global Ambassador and Advisory Council Chair. CEO, Bob Cunningham, will share his vision for ICMEC in a personal conversation about what drives his work every day.

Guillermo Galarza, ICMEC’s Executive Director of Global Partnerships and Child Protection Trainings, will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award in honor of his 25 years of work in child protection and contribution to training thousands of law enforcement professionals in child protection best practices.

Recognizing that we each have a role to play in the protection of children, ICMEC will present the first annual Everyday Hero Award to two citizens who have taken extraordinary action on behalf of vulnerable children. Our first award recipient came to national attention just this past January when she noticed something not quite right with a family sitting at a table in the restaurant where she worked and intervened to pull him out of an abusive environment. Our second award recipient, Dr. Naeem Zafar has devoted his career to protecting the children of Pakistan and the world as both a pediatrician and children’s rights activist.

During the program, you will also meet Elieth Samara and her mother. Elieth was abducted when she was just 19-days-old, triggering a coordinated recovery effort involving the U.S. Embassy, Facebook, and dozens of partners throughout Guatemala. Within 33 hours, Elieth Samara was safely recovered.

“ICMEC’s work has always relied on a global network of engaged, compassionate partners and supporters like you who boldly stand in defense of children everywhere,” says CEO Bob Cunningham. “Through your support of the 2021 Gala for Child Protection, ICMEC will continue to bring missing children home and create a safer world for children everywhere.”

Thank you to our Diamond Sponsors for your steadfast support to create a safer world for children.
Chugai Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.
Alfred Gantner
Dr. Franz B. Humer
The Kirsh Foundation
Dr. Raymond Schinazi

Learn more about the 2021 Virtual Gala for Child Protection at

About ICMEC:
The International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC) envisions a world where children can grow up safe from exploitation, abuse, or risk of going missing. Our mission is to advance child protection and safeguard vulnerable children by:

  • powering the global search for children who are missing
  • disrupting the economics and mechanics of commercial child exploitation
  • training frontline professionals to prevent and respond to cases of child abuse and exploitation

Over the last two decades, ICMEC has worked in more than 120 countries, empowering the global community with the tools, training, and technology to create a safer world for children.