Individual ticket $50
Raffle ticket $25
The deadline to register is May 10, 2021
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Thursday, May 13, 2021

We’re thrilled to invite you to the Second Annual Celebrating Resilience Luncheon on May 13, 2021.  U.S. Senator Dick Durbin will provide welcome remarks during the Luncheon.  Senator Durbin has been a courageous champion and strong supporter for survivors of domestic and sexual violence. We are incredibly honored to include him in our program.

The Luncheon will feature Special Guest Speaker Julie Smolyansky, President and CEO of Lifeway Foods and co-founder of Test400k, an organization dedicated to advocating ending the backlog of 400,000 untested rape kits in the United States.

A survivor herself, Julie has been active in the fight against sexual violence since high school, when she worked with the YWCA to create their first teen dating violence curriculum. Since then, she’s traveled the globe to support other survivors in their struggle for justice; worked with the Obama White House on their “It’s On Us” campaign; and, most recently, was a producer for the documentary “On The Record,” about the abuse allegations against music mogul Russell Simmons.

Julie’s work has been instrumental in helping countless survivors tell their stories. Join us for a unique opportunity to hear from someone who is both a brilliant businesswoman and an avid advocate for survivors during this virtual event.



Julie Smolyansky became the youngest female CEO of a publicly held firm at the age of 27 when she took over leadership of Lifeway Foods in 2002 when her father suddenly passed away. The company was founded by her refugee parents over 30 years ago with the mission of bringing Kefir, an Eastern European product, into the U.S. mainstream. Under her leadership, the company has boosted revenues to over $120 million today from $12 million when she took over.

A survivor herself, for over 30 years, Julie has actively worked to end domestic violence and sexual assault, starting her activism and advocacy in the Chicagoland with YWCA while in High School when she helped create and teach the first teen dating violence curriculum. In college she became a certified rape crisis counselor with Chicago’s Rape Victim Advocates (now known as Resilience) and later joined their board. She started her career as an in-home family counselor working with abused children in the DCFS system before leaving the professional field of psychology to join her family business. Her journey has taken her overseas to Uganda to work with survivors in a refugee camp, with mothers and teen girls in Bangladesh, and not long ago, she was part of a delegation invited to help rape victims and survivors of war gain a seat at the negotiation table during the Colombian peace process in addition to her work with the Obama White House on the “It’s On Us” initiative, an awareness campaign to help end sexual assault on college campuses.

Julie has produced several films focused on social justice, including the Emmy-winning, Oscar-nominated documentary “The Hunting Ground.” “Honor Diaries”, “Homestretch” and most recently “On The Record” a film that stands at the intersection of Black Live Matters and MeToo. Along with her production work on “The Hunting Ground,” she also shared the stage with 49 other survivors at the 2016 Oscars during Lady Gaga’s iconic performance of “Til It Happens to You,” which was written for the film. In 2013 Julie co‐founded a non‐profit, Test400k, an organization dedicated to ending the backlog of 400,000 untested rape kits in the United States prompting nationwide rape kit reform laws across the country. Most recently during lockdown Julie participated in a nationwide PSA for RAINN raising awareness for the national sexual assault hotline for victims being forced to shelter with their abusers.

Julie was named to Fortune Business ‘40 under 40,’ Fortune’s 55 Most Influential Women on Twitter, Fortune Business ‘Best Instagrammers of the ’40 Under 40’ and Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business 1000. Julie serves as an emeritus member of the United Nations Foundation Global Entrepreneurs Council and was part of the 2015 class of Young Global Leaders of the World Economic Forum. She recently released her first book, The Kefir Cookbook: An Ancient Healing Superfood for Modern Life, Recipes from My Family Table and Around the World in 2018 and is currently writing her second book. She lives in Chicago and is the mother of two girls.


For more information: please contact Amy O’Keeffe, Director of Development, at


Leader Sponsors

Kimberlee Herold

Benefactor Sponsors

Beth Kallmyer
Kate Meyer

Partner Sponsors

Sarah King
Gary and Vicki Pines

Ambassador Sponsor

The Sound

Design Sponsor