Christy Turlington Burns
Mother, Social entrepreneur, Model, and Founder of Every Mother Counts
Christy Turlington Burns is a mother, social entrepreneur, model, and founder of the maternal health organization Every Mother Counts. Christy has been recognized as one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People and Glamour Magazine’s Woman of The Year.
Having endured a childbirth complication herself, Christy was compelled to direct and produce the documentary “No Woman, No Cry,” about maternal health challenges that impact the lives of millions of girls and women around the world. Every Mother Counts was launched at the same time as the advocacy campaign to heighten awareness about our global maternal health crisis. While advocacy remains a key focus, EMC has evolved into a 501(c)(3), investing in programs around the world to ensure all women have access to quality maternal healthcare. In March 2016, EMC was recognized as one of Fast Company magazine’s Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Not-For-Profit.
Prior to her work as a global maternal health advocate, Christy enjoyed a successful career as a model while continuing her education and pursuing other interests. Christy is a member of the Harvard Medical School Global Health Council and sits on the advisory board of New York University’s Nursing School. She holds a BA from NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Studies and has studied Public Health at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.
Christy is a true inspiration and role model, and I’m delighted to share this interview and the incredible work both her and her team are doing to make sure that Every Mother Counts.
Describe your perfect day of being-well.
Waking up after a solid eight hours of sleep! Then getting my kids out the door and to school on time before a workout (run, yoga or gym). Then heading to the office for a great team meeting as we strategize about all the opportunities we have to ensure safer motherhood for all. Then heading home to cook dinner for my family, and back to bed before 10:00pm!
What’s your favorite workout?
I like to mix it up. I do a lot of running these days and love that it gets me outdoors in all the seasons, but I always weave in yoga and strength training.
What superpower would you like to have for a day?
I would love to deliver babies.
What’s the one vice you will never give up?
I don’t think of it as a vice, but I can’t think of anything else that would be better: red wine.
After becoming a model at such a young age, how did you stay so grounded throughout your career?
I believe we are born pretty much who we are. Being grounded is my true nature.
What led you to start your incredible non-profit Every Mother Counts?
I founded Every Mother Counts in 2010 after completing my first documentary film, “No Woman, No Cry.” I was compelled to learn as much as I could after experiencing a serious childbirth complication following the delivery of my daughter in 2003. At that time, it was estimated that 530,000 girls and women died each year from pregnancy or childbirth-related complications, and that almost all of those deaths were preventable. I became so motivated to do all I could to raise awareness and lessen the number of preventable maternal deaths.
How many women die in childbirth, and what are the causes?
Each year 303,000 women die due to pregnancy and childbirth-related causes. For every woman or girl who dies, 20 to 30 more experience debilitating, lifelong complications. This isn’t just a problem in the developing world. The U.S. is one of only 13 countries with a rising maternal mortality rate, which is just unacceptable.
Some of the global causes of childbirth-related deaths include hemorrhaging, hypertensive disorders, infections and embolism.
How does Every Mother Counts impact women and families in the U.S. and globally?
Every Mother Counts’ mission is to raise awareness about the global crisis of maternal mortality and morbidity while providing lifesaving resources to women who need them.
We are building a portfolio of grants that bring essential maternal healthcare to mothers in need in the U.S., Haiti, Tanzania, India, Bangladesh, Guatemala, Syria and Uganda. Our goal has been to identify individuals and organizations and to highlight models of care that work and that can be scaled. We constantly ask ourselves: What is possible? We have seen through the impact of these partnerships that when women have access to trained providers, they will get the proper care they need when they need it. We have seen that when distance is a barrier and women get access to transportation to reach a clinic with a skilled provider, birth outcomes are greatly improved. When providers have access to training and continued education and supplies, birth outcomes also improve.
Since 2012, Every Mother Counts has provided over 400,000 mothers and babies with access to quality care.
One recent example of our impact is helping build, equip and staff The Carrie Wortham Birth Center in Cabestor, Haiti, which has already delivered over 50 babies safely.
Click here to see our 2015 Impact Report.
As this is an issue that affects us all, how can we get involved?
Join our community at everymothercounts.org. We have a number of ways to get involved from running races on behalf of EMC, to shopping a collection of products that benefit the women we are helping, to attending our events and sharing your own birth story.
From an advocacy standpoint, we are currently pushing out a Change.org petition calling on Medicaid and healthcare providers to make doula and midwifery care reimbursable in all 50 states.
Tell me about the Orange Rose Campaign.
In time for Mother’s Day, we introduced the Orange Rose as a new symbol for safer motherhood. The blooming orange rose symbolizes a cycle of life, not death. It is a visible sign of nourishment, strength and vitality.
Our hope is that everyone will see the Orange Rose as a powerful reminder that safer motherhood is possible with improved access to essential care during pregnancy and childbirth.
In honor of the Orange Rose campaign, Every Mother Counts has a special curated “Orange Rose Collection.” The collection includes products from Ash & Ames, Clare V., Cuyana, Dear Liza’s Custom Cookies & Desserts, LaSoula, Minted, Posy Box Flowers, Sefte Living, Solly Baby and TOMS, and is featured on everymothercounts.org. Proceeds will support our continued efforts to link women to critical care in underserved communities in the U.S. and around the world.
To continue the momentum, from May 6th to May 8th, we encourage you to share our Mother’s Day video on Facebook to spark a social movement that could help thousands of women and girls get the care they need.
What do you want to be remembered for?
I hope I am remembered for doing and caring deeply about a lot of different things throughout my life and for having made a positive difference in the lives of others.