The United States is among the most dangerous developed countries for women to give birth, according to data tracking the maternal mortality and morbidity rates. It also has one of the highest infant mortality rates. These statistics are more pronounced in communities of color. Join Washington Post Live for a series of conversations about maternal and infant health equity with Every Mother Counts founder Christy Turlington Burns, Association of American Medical Colleges’ Center for Health Justice director of research Karey M. Sutton, PhD and Ancient Song Doula Services founder Chanel L. Porchia-Albert.

Highlights

“Women of color can’t wait. They are disproportionately impacted by these outcomes of maternal mortality and morbidity… Until there was the formation of [the Black Maternal Health Caucus] and the leadership of both Rep. [Lauren] Underwood and [Alma] Adams, I don’t think we would have had as much momentum or as much energy around these bills [in the Momnibus act].” (Washington Post Live)
“The pandemic has raised to the surface just how extreme these health disparities actually are… That’s the most exciting thing about this moment is the fact that the veil has been lifted. There should be no confusion about who is most impacted.” (Washington Post Live)
“Ideally what someone needs is for their humanity to be seen… For that to be conveyed and centered and to be forefront in the care they’re receiving… It’s not just about that particular episode of care that’s happening to them.” (Washington Post Live)
“It’s in that labor and delivery space that you need that advocate, you need that person to be a conduit for communication for you and your support person and the medical team… Having that advocate and doula by my side has definitely empowered me.” (Washington Post Live)
“We really need to look at why are these things happening, where is the level of accountability that’s taking place, and what are folks doing to really center families in an equitable way where there’s not just having conversations but there’s truth, there’s reconciliation, there’s movement towards really creating systems of change that are new and fresh. And we can’t be afraid to work from a new perspective.” (Washington Post Live)

Christy Turlington Burns

Every Mother Counts (EMC) founder Christy Turlington Burns’ work in maternal health began after experiencing a childbirth related complication in 2003—an experience that would later inspire her to direct and produce the documentary feature film, No Woman, No Cry, about the challenges women face throughout pregnancy and childbirth around the world. Under Christy’s leadership, Every Mother Counts has invested nearly $21 million in programs in Africa, Latin America, South Asia and the United States focused on making pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother, everywhere.

Before founding Every Mother Counts, Christy received international acclaim as a model representing the world’s biggest fashion and beauty brands. She was the Founder of Nuala, a yoga lifestyle brand in partnership with Puma, co-founder of Sundari, a skincare based on the principals of Ayurveda, and author of the bestselling book, Living Yoga: Creating a Life Practice.

Christy has been featured on thousands of magazine covers, was one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People, and Glamour Magazine’s 2013 Woman of the Year. In March 2016, EMC was recognized as one of Fast Company magazine’s Top 10 Most Innovative Not-For-Profit Companies.

Christy graduated Cum Laude from NYU’s Gallatin School of Independent Studies and studied Public Health at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. She currently serves on the Yale Nursing School Dean’s Leadership Council and the Smithsonian Institute’s American Women’s History Initiative (AWHI) Advisory Committee. Previously, she has served on the Harvard Medical School Global Health Council, the Harvard School of Public Health Board of Dean’s Advisors and the advisory Board of New York University’s Nursing School. Christy lives in New York City with her husband, filmmaker Edward Burns, and their two children.

Chanel L. Porchia-Albert

Commissioner Chanel L. Porchia - Albert CD, CPD, CLC, CHHC is the founder and Chief Operating Officer of Ancient Song Doula Services; A reproductive health organization focused on providing resources and full-spectrum doula services to women of color and marginalized communities throughout NYC and northern New Jersey. Her work within infant and maternal health have led her across the globe to Uganda where she has served as a maternal health strategist in rural war-torn areas. Her work in birth and reproductive justice continues to span into the research and methods of care of marginalized people and people of color bringing a human rights framework into birthing rooms and beyond into institutional reform and accountability measures within healthcare to address implicit bias and racism. Currently, she is a professor at Marymount Manhattan College teaching public policy centered in a reproductive justice framework and a Commissioner on the NYC Committee for Gender Equity.

She has served as a consultant for AMCHP, NYC Department of Health in Mental Hygiene and assisted in the creation of the Respectful Care at the Birth document other healthcare institutions engaging providers in birth justice and serve on the advisory board at Ariadne Labs at Harvard Medical School, Board of Directors for March for Moms, founding Board Member Birth Future Foundation, and Village Birth Intl. Chanel and Ancient Song’s work is featured on CNN’s Champions for Change, the cover of Working Mother Magazine, NY Times, SELF Magazine, and most recently NowThis and Vogue Magazine. When she is not working on legislative policy or facilitating workshops, you can find her spending time with her six children.

Karey M. Sutton, PhD

Karey is the director of research for the AAMC Center for Health Justice. She also serves as the AAMC’s director of health equity research workforce. Prior to joining the AAMC, she was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine’s Center for Genomics and Society.

Over the last eight years, Karey has led AAMC CHARGE (Collaborative for Health Equity: Act, Research, Generate Evidence), developed resources to help teaching hospitals partner with communities to address health injustice and community health needs, and worked with internal and external stakeholders on efforts to minimize health and health care inequities in maternal health.

As the director of research, she is committed to and passionate about demonstrating the importance of bidirectional learning from community stakeholders and the value of working through a social justice and health equity lens to solve community challenges. Recognized as a 2020 National Minority Quality Forum 40 Under 40 Leader in Minority Health, Karey’s commitment to health justice spans beyond the research. She is highly involved in local community efforts such as tutoring youth from Washington, D.C., public schools, serving on the Prince George's County Healthcare Action Coalition, and providing grant assistance for local community-based organizations.

She has degrees in chemistry and classical civilization from Howard University and earned her PhD in science and technology policy from Virginia Tech.

Content from March of Dimes

The following content is produced and paid for by a Washington Post Live event sponsor. The Washington Post newsroom is not involved in the production of this content.

(Washington Post Live)

Stacey D. Stewart

Stacey D. Stewart, our President and CEO, joined March of Dimes as its fifth President on January 1, 2017. In this role, Stewart heads the organization leading the fight for the health of all moms and babies. She is responsible for all aspects of the organization’s strategy, vision and operations. Stewart came to March of Dimes from United Way Worldwide, where she held several positions, most recently serving as U.S. President of United Way, the nation’s largest nonprofit organization. There she provided strategic direction for more than 1,000 local United Ways. Stewart was also responsible for United Way’s national efforts in education, financial stability and health as well as guiding efforts to enhance the brand and grow revenue. A business veteran, Stewart has also held a number of senior roles, including Chief Diversity Officer and Senior Vice President for the Office of Community and Charitable Giving at Fannie Mae, as well as President and Chief Executive Officer for the Fannie Mae Foundation.

Interviewed by Jade Roper-Tolbert

Jade Roper-Tolbert was a contestant on Season 19 of The Bachelor, and then went to paradise for Bachelor of Paradise season 2, where she found her now-husband, Tanner. Since then, the two have gotten married, relocated to California, and gave birth to three children: Emmy, Brooks, and Reed. Jade has started a podcast with her best friend Carly Waddell titled “Mommies Tell All” and is an advocate for postpartum awareness and education. She is thrilled to be an active member of the March of Dimes Organization and believes strongly in providing resources and education for moms everywhere.