Christy Turlington Burns’ career as a model needs very little introduction or discussion. But these days, it is her work as a global maternal health advocate that has the Supermodel fighting for. At 47, she still looks every bit the face of Calvin Klein’s Eternity that she was in 1988 when her image launched the fragrance. But she is far more than just that: a four-time marathon finisher, 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, is also a member of the Harvard Medical School Global Health Council and on the advisory Board of New York University’s Nursing School and she is now spending most of her days either in the downtown Manhattan offices of Every Mother Counts, or on the road fighting for the organization she founded in 2010 to end the staggering number of preventable deaths related to pregnancy and childbirth.

EVERY MOTHER COUNTS IS A NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION DEDICATED TO MAKING PREGNANCY AND CHILDBIRTH SAFE FOR EVERY MOTHER. WE INFORM, ENGAGE, AND MOBILIZE NEW AUDIENCES TO TAKE ACTIONS AND RAISE FUNDS THAT SUPPORT MATERNAL HEALTH PROGRAMS AROUND THE WORLD.

Every Mother Counts was born out of the documentary, “No Woman No Cry” I directed and produced and premiered in 2010. Initially, the film and campaign were my contribution to raise awareness about an under-reported global tragedy costing hundreds of thousands of deaths each year, and an effort to end preventable deaths related to pregnancy and childbirth. We evolved into a 501 c3 foundation in early 2012, and this has allowed us to raise funds for programs in several countries. One of the biggest challenges of our issue is awareness, but once people know the challenges and realize that there are solutions we can engage them in a more meaningful way“, Christy says.

Our goal is to continue to contribute to the global effort to significantly reduce lives lost at birth. I don’t really think of the organization as a legacy per se.  We are quite focused on the potential to make childbirth safe for ALL moms and to achieve that, we have a ways to go. I strongly believe that each preventable death is one death too many”, says Christy. “It’s my passion for maternal health that really fuels my dedication to this cause. I strongly believe that the life of every mother does count, and that maternal health is a universal issue that affects each of us. Women who are bringing life into the world deserve access to quality maternity care, and every child deserves a healthy mother to love and protect them. I feel strongly that if we have a voice to make a change, we must use it”, she adds.

Having endured a childbirth complication herself, she was indeed 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.

Eleven years ago I started to hemorrhage due to a retained placenta after delivering my daughter. Before that moment I didn’t know that hundreds of thousands of girls and women die every year from events like the one I survived. Grace’s birth was a rebirth for me—I have never looked at the world the same way.”

And do note this: Christy has been recognized as one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People and Glamour Magazine’s Woman of The Year. And in March 2016, EMC was recognized as one of Fast Company magazines Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Not-For-Profit.

 

 

[The supermodel and activist, captured by photographer Mikael Janssen in a series of portraits exclusively for WSJ’s March 2016 Women’s Style issue.]