This Runner Is Fighting To Make The World Safer For Every Mother

This model-mother-director-advocate-runner is helping women all over the world with her work.

Credit: Scott Galvin/Walt Middleton Photography 2013
Credit: Scott Galvin/Walt Middleton Photography 2013

This is a part of our 15 Most Powerful Women in Running series. Who runs the world? Girls—obviously.

Founder, Every Mother Counts
Age: 46
Walnut Creek, CA

Once dubbed “the face of the century” for her modeling prowess, Turlington Burns has now become the face at the center of a different world: the fight for maternal health. After experiencing complications during childbirth, Turlington Burns came to a startling realization that she and her baby had survived thanks to easy access to medical support—but that thousands of women are not so lucky. Shocked to discover 287,000 mothers die each year during labor from preventable or treatable complications, Turlington Burns decided to act.

She directed the documentary “No Woman, No Cry,” which centers on this health crisis and founded Every Mother Counts (EMC), a nonprofit dedicated to “making pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother.” In order to raise awareness for her cause, the model-mother-director-advocate decided to add another title to her résumé: marathon runner. After finishing her first marathon for EMC in New York in 2011, she was hooked.

Turlington Burns calls 2015 “by far the most exciting year for me as a runner.” EMC’s founder became a spokesperson for the Apple Watch and one of the first people to test it in preparation for the London Marathon. “I felt like a professional athlete with all the training that was involved,” she says. The hard work paid off with a huge personal best of 3 hours, 46 minutes.

The mother of two continues to make the world safer for women everywhere. She explains, “I am most proud of the EMC community, who has raised over $1.3 million, specifically through running, to improve access to critical maternal healthcare.”

Discover More Of Our 15 Most Powerful Women In Running:
Magdalena Boulet
Lauren Fleshman
Harriette Thompson
Sarah Attar