Fireside Chat: Ilse Knect

Ilse is Director of Policy & Advocacy at the Joyful Heart Foundation, a non-profit created by Mariska Hargitay to tackle the backlog of untested sex assault kits.


Ilse Knecht leads the Joyful Heart Foundation’s initiatives to drive policy and advocacy to support victims of sexual assault and to improve processes that will ensure all sex assault kits are tested so perpetrators of these crimes can be identified and held accountable. I caught up with Ilse to discuss:

  • Her current role at the Joyful Heart Foundation and her previous 16-year role at National Center for Victims of Crime.

  • The “End the Backlog” initiative, started in 2010, and how the initiative is evolving as more and more states are testing sex assault kits.

  • The role that new technologies like Othram’s genetic testing platform are playing helping solve crimes that can’t be solved with CODIS alone.

  • Mariska’s Emmy award-winning documentary film: I am Evidence.

We also briefly cover three crimes in which young girls were sexually assaulted and murdered. In these three cases of Siobhan McGuinness, Carla Walker, and Christine Jessop, traditional forensic DNA testing failed to produce leads and the cases went cold. Decades later, all three cases were solved, in part, using Othram technology.