Christy Turlington Burns’ lovely smile and global mission steal the spotlight in the February WSJ interview written by Julia Reed. Founder of Every Mother Counts, Christy Turlington Burns’ dedication to making pregnancy and childbirth safe for mothers worldwide reminds us that she is a beauty inside and out. As further proof, the iconic Supermodel photographed by Mikael Janssen and styled by George Cortina also shines in a rare fashion shoot featuring looks from Calvin Klein, Alexander McQueen, Albert Swanepoel, Givenchy, Saint Laurent, Maison Margiela, and others.
Follow along as we share highlights from this WSJ interview, a visit to Stanford, and other important appearances supporting Every Mother Counts.
Fast forward to 2016
Christy Turlington Burns is sitting in the downtown Manhattan offices of Every Mother Counts, an organization she founded in 2010 to end the staggering number of preventable deaths related to pregnancy and childbirth. 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. (The most recent round of ads features her husband of 12 years, actor-filmmaker Ed Burns, rather than the original model, Mark Vanderloo.) Just this morning, she posed for photographer Pamela Hanson, one of the few pals from her modeling days with whom she still keeps up. But the Eternity campaign and today’s quick (WSJ) shoot are the exceptions, not the rule. When asked if she misses modeling, she doesn’t hesitate: “Not at all. I don’t miss anything about it. Except the trips.”
Launching Every Mother Counts
In 1994, having appeared on more than 500 magazine covers, she decided it was time for a completely different direction and applied to New York University, from which she graduated cum laude in 1999 with a degree in philosophy and comparative religion. Skin-care and yoga-apparel businesses emerged (Sundari and Nuala respectively), and in 2003, she wed Burns in a ceremony in San Francisco. Following the marriage, Turlington Burns gave birth to their first child and daughter Grace, now 12.
A near-fatal complication suffered during Grace’s birth—a postpartum hemorrhage—is what piqued her interest in maternal health issues. Turlington had already ventured into the world of public health advocacy in 1997, when her father died of lung cancer. She made a series of public service announcements, testified before Congress on the topic and started an award-winning website. After her experience in childbirth—during which she had access to top-notch health care—she learned that hemorrhages like hers are the leading cause of pregnancy-related deaths worldwide and that even in the United States the numbers are rising. “When I learned the statistics, I knew I had to do something—these deaths are 98 percent preventable.”
Lights, Camera, Passport
Christy Turlington Burns is dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safe. In addition to the WSJ, she has joined “CBS This Morning” co-hosts to discuss the organization and her efforts to help mothers worldwide. Beyond several other local and national media interviews, she has appeared at the Stanford Graduate School of Business as a guest speaker for Professor Jennifer Aaker’s class “The Power of Story in Business.”
Buidling on the U.S. print, television, and University appearances – her current venture takes her equally far afield. Just before Thanksgiving, she made one of her annual trips to Haiti, where Every Mother Counts supports a rural clinic and trains midwives. Last spring she led a team of 26 to visit the three maternal health-care facilities the organization supports in Tanzania, a country she first visited in 1991 while on a British Vogue shoot with fashion photographer Arthur Elgort. “Christy was always the best traveler,” says Elgort now. “Her father was a pilot and her mother was a stewardess, so we used to laugh that she ‘flies well.’ We’d say, ‘No wonder she loves it. It’s in her genes.’ ”
Today, Every Mother Counts has a staff of nine and a board of five and to date has awarded $2.6 million to grantees from places as far-ranging as Indonesia, Uganda, Brooklyn, Florida and Haiti, where a third class of midwives has been funded and a brick-and-mortar birthing center was recently christened.
Stay up to date on Every Mother Counts progress by visiting the organizations site here. For more details on the inspiring interview by Julia Reed visit the WSJ and pick up the latest issue on newsstands today – February 13, 2016.