Lifesavers Gala 2017 — AFSP


The Appel Room, Jazz at Lincoln Center's Frederick P. Rose Hall
Broadway at 60th Street, New York, NY 10019
6:30 p.m. Cocktail Reception and Silent Auction
7:15 p.m. Dinner and Awards
Black Tie


Chris Gethard, Comedian


Kabir Nath, President & CEO, Otsuka North America Pharmaceutical Business Division, Otsuka America, Inc.


Public Service Award

Champion Award
Rep. Tim Murphy

Survivor Award
Allison Schmitt

Research Award
Joan Asarnow, Ph.D.


Each year, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention holds the Lifesaver’s Gala, at which we honor individuals and organizations that have made a substantial contribution to suicide prevention. From scientists, to public policy advocates, to loss and attempt survivors and others, Gala honorees have gone above and beyond in drawing attention to the cause, elevating public discourse around mental health and suicide, and successfully creating real change within our society as a means to ending this leading cause of death.

In addition to raising much-needed funds for AFSP’s leading initiatives in the areas of research, education, advocacy and support for those affected by suicide, the Gala is an opportunity for our supporters to come together and recognize the past year’s accomplishments. Our distinguished guests share inspiring and informative stories about how suicide has affected them, and their valiant and passionate efforts to fight it.

Together, we look forward to how we can all make a difference in the year ahead.


Kabir Nath, Gala Chair
President & CEO, Otsuka North America Pharmaceutical Business Division, Otsuka America, Inc.

John Arena

John Bardi
Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc.

Carla Canuso, M.D.
Janssen Research & Development

Marian and James Cohen
AFSP National Board

Jim Compton
AFSP National Board

Nancy Farrell
AFSP National Board

Paul Ghiz
Global Cloud

Jonathon Kellerman

Husseini Manji, M.D.
Janssen Research & Development

Elizabeth Pappadopulos, Ph.D.
Pfizer Inc.

Ray Paul Jr.
AFSP National Board

Kelly Posner, Ph.D.
Columbia University Medical Center & AFSP National Board

Andrew Rogoff, Esq.
Pepper Hamilton LLP & AFSP National Board

Maureen Sheltry
Sunovion Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Steve Siple
BBVA Compass Bank & AFSP National Board

Andrew Slaby, M.D., Ph.D., MPH
New York University Medical School & AFSP National Board

Marco Taglietti, M.D.
SCYNEXIS, Inc. & AFSP National Board

Elinor Wohl
AFSP National Board


Chris Gethard (Host) is an actor, comedian, and writer as well as the star and creator of “The Chris Gethard Show,” which catapulted from New York Public Access to network cable and was described by Rolling Stone magazine as “the wildest talk show on TV.” Chris is the creator and host of the podcast “Beautiful/Anonymous,” in which he takes anonymous phone calls that often lead to unexpectedly moving confessions and breathtaking moments of shared humanity...while still somehow managing to be funny. He is the author of the memoir “A Bad Idea I'm About to Do: True Tales of Seriously Poor Judgment and Stunningly Awkward Adventure,” which received rave reviews from celebrities including Amy Poehler, Seth Meyers, Patton Oswalt, and others. As an actor he has appeared in television and movies including “The Office,” “Louie,” “Broad City,” “Inside Amy Schumer,” “The Heat,” “Bored to Death,” and many more. His off-Broadway show “Career Suicide,” in which he spoke unflinchingly about his personal experience with mental health and suicidal impulses using a rare blend of honesty and humor, was produced by Judd Apatow, and will debut as an HBO special in May 2017. Chris has become an advocate and public voice for mental health and suicide prevention.

Instagram: Every day, millions of people come to Instagram to share their stories and find strength and comfort in community. But there are times when people on Instagram want to offer support to someone who may be in distress but don’t know how best to reach out. Last year Instagram introduced new tools that allow anyone to anonymously report when someone they care about might be in crisis. Teams review these reports 24/7 and in more than 40 languages and work quickly to connect someone in need with needed resources. Accepting the award on behalf of Instagram is Cliff Hopkins, global head of marketing.

Congressman Tim Murphy is currently serving his eighth term in the U.S. House of Representatives. The only practicing psychologist in elected federal government, Dr. Murphy relies on four decades of experience to advocate for meaningful reforms in the U.S. healthcare system. And he has become a true champion for mental health. Serving as co-chair of the Mental Health Caucus and a founding member of the GOP Doctors Caucus, he focuses on policies to make healthcare more affordable and accessible for all families. As chairman of the House Energy & Commerce's Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations, Murphy led a multi-year investigation into our nation’s broken mental health system. The outcome was his landmark crisis mental health reform legislation, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 2646) which was signed into law in December 2016 as part of the 21st Century Cures Act. The law fosters evidence-based care, addresses the shortage of psychiatric hospital beds, empowers caregivers, and helps patients get treatment well before their illness spirals into crisis. AFSP is pleased to recognize Congressman Murphy for being a voice for patients and families with mental illness and for helping to prevent suicide.

Allison Schmitt is an eight-time Olympic medal swimmer and three-time Olympian, making her one of the most decorated swimmers in the history of the sport. A Canton, Michigan native and 11-time NCAA champion, Allison graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in psychology and minor in child & family development. She is passionate about helping those who struggle with mental health issues and has been vocal about her personal experience with depression prompted by her cousin tragically taking her own life. Allison continues to spread the message of “it’s okay to not be okay” with the hope of changing stigmas associated with mental illness and helping as many people as she can.

Joan R. Asarnow, Ph.D., is Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, where she directs the Youth Stress and Mood Program, a depression and suicide prevention program which provides clinical care for youth depression and suicidal ideation and behavior. The program focuses on cognitive-behavioral treatments by providing clinical care, conducting research, and engaging in education and training. She is a past president of the Society for Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, Division 53 of the American Psychological Association. A clinical psychologist, Dr. Asarnow has dedicated her career to developing, testing, and implementing evidence-based treatments for adolescents at risk for suicide in emergency department and primary care settings. She has received grants from the National Institute of Mental Health, Centers for Disease Control, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and MacArthur Foundation. Most recently she has received a “Zero Suicide” grant from the National Institute of Mental Health. She is also the principal investigator of the “Center for Trauma-Informed Suicide, Self-Harm & Substance Abuse Prevention & Treatment” sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.