chaka khan pressphoto1Kwaku Alston

Chaka Khan

*(Los Angeles, CA ) – Face Forward, a charity that provides pro-bono reconstructive surgery for victims of domestic violence and victims of violent crime, announces the addition of victims of human trafficking to their list of victims assisted.

Additionally, Face Forward is celebrating survivors of these abominable crimes at their 6th annual Gala on September 19th at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles and announced 10X Grammy winner, Chaka Khan, as the headlining performer for this year’s “Moulin Rouge” inspired gala, and welcomes back for her second appearance, fellow Grammy award-winning artist, Macy Gray.

The annual event is the charity’s most important fundraising and awareness-building event of the year, helping to raise money for patients’ travel, accommodations and aftercare.

Past years have heralded intimate performances from Grammy award-winning artists, Brian McNight and Macy Gray, with celebrity attendees such as Lana Parrilla, Missi Pyle, Chris McKenna, Bonnie Somerville, Jeff Probst, Erik Valdez and “Sugar” Shane Mosely. However, the true stars of this spectacular fundraising night will be the survivors of domestic and violent crimes.

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Dr. Karen Kay Imagawa

This year’s award honorees include: Children’s Hospital Los Angeles’ Karen Kay Imagawa, M.D., Director of the Audrey Hepburn CARES Center, which provides a full spectrum of medical and psychosocial support services for suspected victims of child abuse and their families, LAPD’s human trafficking unit and international television and music superstar, La Toya Jackson whose personal journey through an abusive relationship serves as an inspiration to other women in abusive relationships to get out and start over at any age. The event will be hosted by comedic actress Nicole Sullivan & emcee’d by the host of Entertainment Tonight, Kevin Frazier and KTLA’s Lu Parker.

2015-2016 also brings new partnerships with organizations that deal in Human Trafficking and Face Forward has partnered with Journey Out (formerly The Mary Magdalene Project) and the LAPD to help identify victims that have suffered from trafficking and abuse and require surgery. The organization and the gala shine light on a very dark subject and refocus everyone’s attention to hope for what lies ahead for survivors while reminding us that such atrocities exist and require all of our participation in order to make it end.

Founder and CEO of Face Forward, Mrs. Deborah Alessi, is a survivor of domestic abuse and a true advocate of this worthy cause. To assist other survivors to get a second chance at life, Mrs. Alessi recruited her husband and renowned facial reconstructive surgeon David Alessi, M.D., who said, “Deborah and I are humbled by the continuous and growing support for our annual philanthropic event. Our wish is to draw attention to the atrocity of the worldwide problem of domestic violence and abuse. Face Forward’s annual fundraising efforts enable us to help more and more victims in their journey to achieve both physical and emotional healing and recovery. This year has been exceptional for us with amazing patients and exciting new partnerships which will help us raise awareness and funds to help more survivors.”

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In addition to celebrating its survivors, Face Forward will celebrate new partnerships and initiatives formed this year such as launching an Entertainment Industry Board which will be helmed by music mogul and entrepreneur, Manny Halley, CEO of Imani Entertainment Group. This board, under his direction, will help guide Face Forward to recruit high profile individuals to participate in various activities throughout the year on behalf of Face Forward patients as well as to advocate for change while raising awareness. Halley made his mark in the industry by navigating the careers of artists such as Keyshia Cole and Nicki Minaj. His relationships run deep in entertainment and as an entrepreneur he runs multiple companies including his latest acquisition, the House of Macau restaurant, in the W Hotel Hollywood. Manny was moved by the work of Face Forward and the statistics of domestic violence and immediately signed on to utilize his connections to make a difference.

Another partnership to be celebrated is that between Face Forward and MobileCause, as together they have brought Face Forward to Mobile Crowdfunding! Either through text to donate, direct texts to donors or real time event fundraising, Face Forward is connecting to its supporters with state of the art mobile technology to make donating easier.

Domestic violence is a serious issue affecting 1 in 4 women and more than 4 million women in the US alone. The night will focus on survivors and raising money via donations, live & silent auctions. The powerhouse-packed event will feature a stunning cocktail reception at the Millennium Biltmore Los Angeles and a seated dinner in the Crystal Ballroom, silent & live auctions, live musical performances, and Moulin Rouge-inspired ambiance. Following the dinner will be the awards ceremony recognizing the honorees.  The event will also have music and dancing, with sound provided by Systems Integration Engineering, creating a celebration of life for the survivors and supporters. Honorary Committee members for the 2015 gala include, Bonnie Somerville, Tom Arnold (the two co-hosted in 2012), Missi Pyle, Sharon Stone, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Shaun Toub, Lana Parrilla, Jennifer Coolidge, James Tupper, Anne Heche, Raza Jaffrey, and Luis Guzman. Some of this years celebrities guests confirmed to appear include Tom Arnold, Bonnie Somerville,  Luis Guzman, Raza Jaffrey, Robert Patrick, Shaun Toub and Ben Hollingsworth, with more to be announced. The live auctions will feature fantastic items including a roundtrip business class accommodations to any one of the destination stops on Etihad Airways and Turkish Airlines routes, lunch with Tom Arnold and Bonnie Somerville at the Soho House, and dinner cooked by Luis Guzman at the winner’s home. Other fabulous auction packages include Deluxe Resort stays at: Jumeirah in Abu Dhabi, One&Only Hayman Island, Kurtz-Ahlers & Associates with a 4 night stay at the Five Star Mukul Beach, Golf and Spa in beautiful Nicaragua, VIP Dugout Club Tickets to an L.A. Dodgers game, VIP Tickets for a Fall filming of Dancing with the Stars and Tickets with meet and greet with Dale Wallace Jr at the Ford Ecoboost 400. Official sponsors for the gala include Turkish Airlines, Etihad Airways, Versace, Alessi Institute, HVC Italian Food and Wine Imports, Auction Cause and more continuing to align with the cause.

To join the fight against domestic violence and attend this year’s gala, please visit:

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’s “BoJack Horseman”  and the Emmy award winning “Penguins of Madagascar”.




Tracy Pretlow
It Girl Public Relations
[email protected]