Selena Gomez, CVS Health, Huntsman Foundation, and Inspirational Students Honored at 2023 JED Gala in New York City
$1.7+ million raised to continue JED’s critical work protecting emotional health
and preventing suicide for teens and young adults nationwide
[June 9, 2023, New York City] — The Jed Foundation (JED) Gala, one of the nation’s most-attended philanthropic events focusing on teen and young adult mental health and suicide prevention, returned to Cipriani Wall Street on Wednesday, June 7. With 750 guests in attendance, the star-studded fundraising event featured individuals and organizations that use their voices, talents, and resources to support JED’s mission.
“We are endlessly grateful to every one of JED’s past, present, and future supporters. Our team is absolutely committed to this work of helping schools and communities better support the mental health of teens and young adults, because we are in this for the long haul,” said JED CEO John MacPhee. “Whether equipping young people with advice and resources to help them talk to a friend; strengthening mental health programs, policies, and systems at schools; or mobilizing community members to better support the teens and young adults in their lives, we will be there to guide and help.”
The event, hosted by Stephanie Wittels Wachs, Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Lemonada Media, which collaborated with JED on the podcasts “Last Day” and “New Day,” raised $1.7+ million to help scale JED’s evidence-based, data-driven programming, policies, and procedures.
“From harm reduction and long-term recovery to addressing trauma and finding your purpose, deaths of despair are preventable,” Wachs said. “There is life on the other side of these moments of despair. This is why I’m so passionate about the work that JED is doing and honored to be hosting this year’s gala.”
This year, the JED Voice of Mental Health Award went to actor, producer, recording artist, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Selena Gomez in recognition of her remarkable commitment to supporting youth mental health. Gomez connects not only with her fans, but also with the entire world in the hopes of normalizing the conversation about mental health.
“I understand what it’s like to struggle with mental health and how some days can bring darkness. But I also know that none of us are alone on our journeys, and it’s OK to not be OK. It’s OK to ask for help,” Gomez said. “I am proud to accept this year’s Voice of Mental Health Award. The continued collaboration between the Rare Impact Fund and JED has helped to deliver life-saving mental health and suicide prevention resources, tools, and techniques to almost 70 additional schools and 600,000 students nationwide. Together, we remain committed to protecting the emotional well-being of teens and young adults.”
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy made a virtual appearance to congratulate all of the honorees, while also recognizing the internal and external issues young people are experiencing and the importance of comprehensive and compassionate support systems.
“This generation of young people faces unprecedented pressures, from academic expectations to the influence of social media to the ongoing challenges posed by a rapidly changing world. The consequences of this stress are felt deeply, and we cannot—and we will not—turn a blind eye to their pain,” Governor Murphy said via video message. “As we work to find meaningful solutions to our nation’s youth mental health crisis and share those solutions, I am incredibly grateful for the work of The Jed Foundation and all who have dedicated their time, energy, and expertise to this critical issue. Whether it is through advocacy, research, philanthropy, or any other means of support, your partnership is making a difference.”
CVS Health was honored with the JED Corporate Voice of Mental Health Award for its ongoing dedication to providing young people access, resources, and support for their mental health needs.
“Suicide is a public-health crisis. We are committed to reducing suicide attempts among Aetna members and raising awareness of suicide prevention among our CVS Health colleagues and in our communities,” said Cara McNulty, President of Behavioral Health and Mental Well-Being for CVS Health. “Our ongoing collaboration with The Jed Foundation, as well as the honor of this award, demonstrates the positive impact we can make on the emotional well-being of teens and young adults.”
Christena Huntsman Durham and David Huntsman received the JED Visionary Mental Health Award on behalf of the Huntsman Foundation for its transformative philanthropic work in mental health, including stigma research, expanding the mental health workforce, and providing equitable care to those in need through investments in treatment and substance misuse services.
Our family’s philanthropic endeavors, inspired by the vision of our father, Jon Huntsman Sr., are centered on alleviating human suffering, and our generation of Huntsmans has made the decision to concentrate our efforts on mental health. This stems not only from the personal experiences of our loved ones, but also from our belief that transformative impact in mental health is both necessary and achievable,” said the Huntsmans. Christena Huntsman Durham and David Huntsman. “We are honored to receive this award, and we look forward to our continuing partnership with JED as we strive to change the future of young people’s mental health.”
Audrey Wang, a rising senior at Mission San José High School in Fremont, California, and Jose Caballero, who hails from Nicaragua and is a rising college sophomore from Miami, Florida, were the recipients of the 16th-annual JED Student Voice of Mental Health Award. The honor recognizes outstanding high school or college students fostering equity and inclusion among peers and caring adults in their communities. The students were recognized for their influential mental health and suicide prevention work in their school, community, and digital spaces.
Other special guests included 17-year-old Salome Agbaroji, National Youth Poet Laureate 2023, reciting a poem titled “Cutting My Bangs,” the Young People’s Chorus of New York City, and DJ Shiran, who kept festivities going during the onsite after-party.
The signature event concluded with a powerful speech from Co-Founder and JED Board Chair Phillip Satow, honoring his son, Jed, and reminding us that we all play a pivotal role in preventing suicide.
“After Jed’s loss, the saddened president of his university asked me, ‘I have 30,000 students. What would you like me to do?’” said Satow. “Fortunately, today, we have an answer for him, and we have an answer for other university presidents, leaders in secondary education, and, most recently for superintendents of preK-12 school districts throughout the country—partner with The Jed Foundation.”
The JED Gala has raised more than $15 million to protect emotional health and prevent suicide for our nation’s teens and young adults.
JED is a nonprofit that protects emotional health and prevents suicide for our nation’s teens and young adults. We’re partnering with high schools and colleges to strengthen their mental health, substance misuse, and suicide prevention programs and systems. We’re equipping teens and young adults with the skills and knowledge to help themselves and each other. We’re encouraging community awareness, understanding, and action for young adult mental health.
Director, Public Relations
The Jed Foundation