Press Release

International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children Inaugural Gala for Child Protection

Honoring Jeff & Justine Koons and Microsoft
Special Tribute by Ashton Kutcher
Hosted by Norah O'Donnell

ALEXANDRIA, VA – The International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC), a non-profit organization working to empower and equip global partners to protect children from sexual abuse, exploitation and abduction, will host the inaugural Gala for Child Protection on Thursday, May 7 at 6 p.m at Gotham Hall in New York City. The debut gala will honor Jeff and Justine Koons, internationally-celebrated American artists and avid philanthropists, and Microsoft, one of the most influential technology corporations leading its industry with innovative child-protection efforts. Ashton Kutcher, actor and co-founder of Thorn: Digital Defenders of Children, will present a special tribute to ICMEC’s founding CEO Ernie Allen. CBS News anchor Norah O’Donnell will serve as host for the evening. Former Chairman of Roche Pharmaceuticals, Dr. Franz Humer, will chair the night’s festivities.

“Our inaugural gala will pay tribute to those individuals and partners who have fought tirelessly for years on behalf of our common mission: making the world a safer place for all children,” said Ambassador Maura Harty, the President and CEO of ICMEC.

Jeff and Justine Koons will receive ICMEC’s Champion for Children Award. In the wake of the abduction of his first son, Jeff and his wife, Justine, worked with ICMEC and inspired the creation of The Koons Family Institute on International Law & Policy at ICMEC. By combating child abduction and child sexual exploitation on multiple fronts – creating replicable legal tools, building international coalitions, and bringing together opinion leaders – The Koons Family Institute is building a global movement to protect the world’s children.

“It is a true privilege to serve on the Board of this important and forceful organization and I, along with my wife, Justine, are honored to receive the first Champion for Children Award,” said Jeff Koons.

ICMEC will present Microsoft with the first Global Impact for Child Protection Award. For over a decade, Microsoft’s unstinting support of and partnership with ICMEC has resulted in the training of more than 6,000 law-enforcement officers around the world and the deployment of cutting-edge technology tools to enable law enforcement to more efficiently combat and investigate online child sexual exploitation.

Following the award presentations, actor and philanthropist Ashton Kutcher will deliver a special tribute to ICMEC’s founding CEO. Kutcher, who co-founded Thorn: Digital Defenders of Children in 2009, is dedicated to using technology to affect positive change in the world of child protection.

Proceeds from this debut fundraising gala will support ICMEC’s worldwide programs. For ticket information, please visit the event website at www.ICMECgala.org.

ABOUT THE INTERNATIONAL CENTRE FOR MISSING & EXPLOITED CHILDREN

The International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC) is a 501(c)(3) non-governmental, non-profit organization working to make the world a safer place for all children by eradicating child abduction, sexual abuse and exploitation. Since its inception in 1998, ICMEC has: trained over 7,500 law enforcement officers from 122 countries; worked with governments in more than 100 countries to refine or implement laws against child pornography; increased global participation in International Missing Children's Day, which has been commemorated in more than 20 countries across 6 continents since 2001; and created a 24-member Global Missing Children's Network. ICMEC is headquartered in the United States, with regional representation in Brazil and Singapore. For more information go to www.icmec.org.