Women’s Voices for Change Honors Christy Turlington Burns

by Eddie Roche

Sharmila Makhija, Christy Turlington, Dr. Patricia Allen==Women's Voices for Change Luncheon in honor of Christy Turlington Burns, 2015 Champion For Change==Private Manhattan Club, NYC==September 21, 2015==©Patrick McMullan==Photo - Jared Siskin/patrickmcmullan.com== ==

We’ve all heard of “Girl Power,” but there was a serious amount of “Women Power” earlier this week when the Women’s Voices for Change hosted their annual Champions For Change luncheon at The Colony Club. This year Christy Turlington Burns was celebrated with the top honor for her work with her nonprofit organization, Every Mother Counts, which is dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother. Women’s Voices for Change was founded in 2005 by women seeking to shift the way culture regarded menopause and women over 40. The organization is led by (the awesome) Patricia Yarberry Allen, MD, a gynecologist whose practice focused on the menopausal transition. Amongst the 200 in attendance were: Gayfryd SteinbergAnne GoulandrisPatricia Herrera Lansing; jewelry designer Kara RossBarbara Tober; stylist Leslie FremarCathy GrahamMickey Ateyah; Teri Everett; event sponsors Verdura’s Ward Landrigan, Nico Landrigan and Colleen CaslinLisa McCarthy; literary agent Faith ChildsBettina ZilkhaMarcia MishaanCaryn ZuckerNan and Robin Swid; and Calvin Klein Inc.’s Melisa Goldie. During lunch Sharmila Makhija, MD, welcomed Turlington Burns onstage to talk about her commitment to women’s issues. Here are a few highlights from the Q&A with Turlington Burns.

Why she got involved: “I have been advocating for health and wellness for some time, but when I became a mother almost 12 years ago I had a postpartum complication, which resulted in a postpartum hemorrhage…I just felt very lucky and blessed, and I learned soon after that globally hundreds of thousands of girls were dying from precisely the same kinds of complications, if not the same ones…I needed to know more and I couldn’t unlearn that information once I knew that it…”

How it evolved: “The fact that at the time that I had the complication and learned this information happened to be a really important time to be talking about women, girls particularly, in global development…I felt that through my experience I would be able to contribute something that I wasn’t hearing a lot of. So I looked to involve more people to be a part of the solution. I didn’t expect to create a foundation or movement of any kind, I just thought, what are my resources? What do I have to contribute? That’s where it was built from and I keep surprising myself with how much more I have to do and to give.”

Learning curves: “I am still very much learning. We are five years in…We went from being a campaign to an organization and I think that with any business or nonprofit, creating an organization and building that and growing that is difficult. I am sort of learning that as we grow, making sure that everyone is there working with us for the right reasons and that we can co-create a strategy together and that we are always listening to the communities that we are trying to serve. That allows you to hopefully adapt and grow in the right way so that you don’t become just another entity. We know that there are a lot of organizations and people out there, but I think that institutions can become sort of stale, so I am just trying to make sure we are always adding to the conversation.”

How yoga played its part: “I started practicing yoga in my late teens—when my career was most busy, most active—and I think the skills and lifestyle that I learned through that practice is very important and very helpful in every aspect of my life. My book is really about that—the practical side of yoga as well as the historical root to the practice. I think that what sort of naturally brought it about is the awareness of perspective and connection and service. I truly understand the meaning of service now through the work that I am doing.” 


Christy Turlington Burns’ comments have been condensed.

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