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unordinaryWomen

THIS SEASON, WE CELEBRATE FORCES OF HOPE—BOLD, COURAGEOUS WOMEN OF VISION WHO CAN SEE BEYOND THE MOMENT TO INSPIRE AND CHANGE LIVES.

As a company led by women for women, we believe every woman has the capacity to be unordinary—to set the tone, raise the bar, share her power, and bring other women up with her. Meet the UnordinaryWomen we’re honoring, discover their stories and learn how you can support this year’s extraordinary cause—Every Mother Counts, founded by Christy Turlington Burns.

MEET THE WOMEN

From an ER doctor on the pandemic’s front lines to an entrepreneur funding women’s business, our seven honorees were chosen not only for their extraordinary achievements, but also how they found new ways to help change the world for the better during a year of unordinary challenges.

SYRA
MADAD

PIONEERING PANDEMIC-PREPAREDNESS EXPERT.
FIGHTER. FIRST RESPONDER.
FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH.

SYRA
MADAD

PIONEERING PANDEMIC-PREPAREDNESS EXPERT.
FIGHTER. FIRST RESPONDER.
FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH.

As the Sr. Director of the System-Wide Special Pathogens Program at NYC Health + Hospitals, Syra Madad spent the last year combatting an outbreak she’d spent a lifetime working to avoid. In January 2020, Netflix debuted “Pandemic,” a documentary showcasing her work to prevent the next global outbreak. Later that month, she gave birth to her daughter in between emergency calls about the emerging virus. A week later she returned to work. “I haven’t looked back since then,” she says.

Though the last year has been “relentless,” it’s also given her hope. “This is a time where all of us are coming together, individually and collectively. We’re very resilient creatures.” Connectedness, she believes, is the cure. “If there’s one thing this pandemic has taught us, it is that we are very much connected to one another. You may live a thousand miles away, but what I do matters and what you do matters. Unity is what’s getting us out of this.”

She’s been buoyed by the support she’s received during the crisis. “I’ve gotten messages from people throughout the world. From countries that I honestly haven’t even heard of before.” It motivates her through non-stop days. “The best way for me to capture it is that it’s a sprint and a marathon. We’re working against the clock, but we also know that this is something we’re going to be in for the long run.” For some, her fearlessness in the face of danger is hard to grasp. “People say, ‘why are you running towards that fire?’ It’s important to understand that if we don’t extinguish that fire, it’s only going to burn faster. I’m not only chasing epidemics, I want to make sure they don’t happen to begin with.” Along the way, she’s been inspired by the way women leaders have risen to the challenge.

“There’s Taiwan, New Zealand, Finland. These are all female leaders, and you’re seeing how they responded to COVID-19.” Their successes have brought women’s strengths to the fore. “Women work so well under pressure, and there’s research and science that backs it. Not only are we powerful, but we have emotional intelligence, we bring people to the table, we listen, and we make decisions.”

She’s also focused on nurturing the women scientists of tomorrow. “Building the next generation of female leaders is very near and dear to my heart. I want to make sure that I’m making a difference today, so that when my daughter grows up, she’s living in a world where she has a voice at any table.”

Watch her film below to learn about the unordinary sacrifices she made to keep us safe.

SEE HER LOOK

As the Sr. Director of the System-Wide Special Pathogens Program at NYC Health + Hospitals, Syra Madad spent the last year combatting an outbreak she’d spent a lifetime working to avoid. In January 2020, Netflix debuted “Pandemic,” a documentary showcasing her work to prevent the next global outbreak. Later that month, she gave birth to her daughter in between emergency calls about the emerging virus. A week later she returned to work. “I haven’t looked back since then,” she says.

Though the last year has been “relentless,” it’s also given her hope. “This is a time where all of us are coming together, individually and collectively. We’re very resilient creatures.” Connectedness, she believes, is the cure. “If there’s one thing this pandemic has taught us, it is that we are very much connected to one another. You may live a thousand miles away, but what I do matters and what you do matters. Unity is what’s getting us out of this.”

She’s been buoyed by the support she’s received during the crisis. “I’ve gotten messages from people throughout the world. From countries that I honestly haven’t even heard of before.” It motivates her through non-stop days. “The best way for me to capture it is that it’s a sprint and a marathon. We’re working against the clock, but we also know that this is something we’re going to be in for the long run.” For some, her fearlessness in the face of danger is hard to grasp. “People say, ‘why are you running towards that fire?’ It’s important to understand that if we don’t extinguish that fire, it’s only going to burn faster. I’m not only chasing epidemics, I want to make sure they don’t happen to begin with.”

Along the way, she’s been inspired by the way women leaders have risen to the challenge. “There’s Taiwan, New Zealand, Finland. These are all female leaders, and you’re seeing how they responded to COVID-19.” Their successes have brought women’s strengths to the fore. “Women work so well under pressure, and there’s research and science that backs it. Not only are we powerful, but we have emotional intelligence, we bring people to the table, we listen, and we make decisions.”

She’s also focused on nurturing the women scientists of tomorrow. “Building the next generation of female leaders is very near and dear to my heart. I want to make sure that I’m making a difference today, so that when my daughter grows up, she’s living in a world where she has a voice at any table.”

Watch her film below to learn about the unordinary sacrifices she made to keep us safe.

SEE HER LOOK

 

“How do you prevent a hazard from becoming a full-blown disaster? That’s a challenge that we all have to meet.

 

“How do you prevent a hazard from becoming a full-blown disaster? That’s a challenge that we all have to meet.
Video

CHRISTY
TURLINGTON
BURNS

FOUNDER, EVERY MOTHER COUNTS.
MODEL. MOM. ADVOCATE FOR SAFE,
EQUITABLE MATERNAL CARE.

CHRISTY
TURLINGTON
BURNS

FOUNDER, EVERY MOTHER COUNTS.
MODEL. MOM. ADVOCATE FOR SAFE,
EQUITABLE MATERNAL CARE.

It was the birth of her daughter that put Christy Turlington Burns on an unordinary path from fashion icon to maternal health advocate. “I never feared for my life because I had confidence in my care. But many other women are not as lucky.” More than a decade on from founding Every Mother Counts, she faced her greatest challenge yet in 2020. “This past year is unprecedented. And honestly it created a new sense of urgency around disparities in health care that people have been experiencing for a long time.”

“This time has been an incredibly stressful and frightening experience for pregnant women,” she says, “but I think living in a pandemic has also allowed people to put their feet in the shoes of a mother.” That awareness has been a boost for Every Mother Counts’ work. “It’s important for us to celebrate each other, and to celebrate and recognize the work that goes into mothering. It’s made our mission resonate so much more.”

The pandemic also shined a light on what she calls a lack of “birth justice.” “Birth justice is about equity. It’s about having the same access as anyone to quality health care and services. We’re living through a real maternity health crisis, particularly with our Black and brown moms.” With travel restricted and hospitals limiting care during the lockdown, she pivoted to find new ways to support pregnant mothers everywhere. She leaned into her relationships with partner organizations across the country and around the world, “making sure that they had adequate protection, as well as the psycho-social support needed to sustain the stress that they’ve had to endure.” Another focus was on “providing resources to mothers so that they could

navigate the health system and find safe alternatives to hospitals for birthing.”

Through it all, she’s leaned on her community of women colleagues and friends. “Without the support of women, I can’t say that I would be here. It’s beyond taking a village, because my village is a global one. It’s the encouragement, it’s the recognition, it’s the respect of other women that gives me the energy to continue doing the work that I do every day.” Most of all, she’s grateful for the gift her daughter gave her. “My daughter was born unordinary. She’s the reason that I do the work that I do, and she keeps me laughing, but she also keeps me motivated to make the world a better place for her future.”

Watch her film below to see how she found hope in these unordinary times.

SEE HER LOOK

It was the birth of her daughter that put Christy Turlington Burns on an unordinary path from fashion icon to maternal health advocate. “I never feared for my life because I had confidence in my care. But many other women are not as lucky.” More than a decade on from founding Every Mother Counts, she faced her greatest challenge yet in 2020. “This past year is unprecedented. And honestly it created a new sense of urgency around disparities in health care that people have been experiencing for a long time.”

“This time has been an incredibly stressful and frightening experience for pregnant women,” she says, “but I think living in a pandemic has also allowed people to put their feet in the shoes of a mother.” That awareness has been a boost for Every Mother Counts’ work. “It’s important for us to celebrate each other, and to celebrate and recognize the work that goes into mothering. It’s made our mission resonate so much more.”

The pandemic also shined a light on what she calls a lack of “birth justice.” “Birth justice is about equity. It’s about having the same access as anyone to quality health care and services. We’re living through a real maternity health crisis, particularly with our Black and brown moms.” With travel restricted and hospitals limiting care during the lockdown, she pivoted to find new ways to support pregnant mothers everywhere. She leaned into her relationships with partner organizations across the country and around the world, “making sure that they had adequate protection, as well as the psycho-social support needed to sustain the stress that they’ve had to endure.” Another focus was on “providing resources to mothers so that they could navigate the health system and find safe alternatives to hospitals for birthing.”

Through it all, she’s leaned on her community of women colleagues and friends. “Without the support of women, I can’t say that I would be here. It’s beyond taking a village, because my village is a global one. It’s the encouragement, it’s the recognition, it’s the respect of other women that gives me the energy to continue doing the work that I do every day.” Most of all, she’s grateful for the gift her daughter gave her. “My daughter was born unordinary. She’s the reason that I do the work that I do, and she keeps me laughing, but she also keeps me motivated to make the world a better place for her future.”

Watch her film below to see how she found hope in these unordinary times.

SEE HER LOOK

 

“It’s important for us to celebrate each other, and to celebrate and recognize the work that goes into mothering.

 

“It’s important for us to celebrate each other, and to celebrate and recognize the work that goes into mothering.
Video

SADE
LYTHCOTT

CEO, THE NATIONAL BLACK THEATRE.
CHAIR, COALITION OF THEATRES OF COLOR.
VISIONARY. INNOVATOR.
TIRELESS ADVOCATE FOR THE ARTS.

SADE
LYTHCOTT

CEO, THE NATIONAL BLACK THEATRE.
CHAIR, COALITION OF THEATRES OF COLOR.
VISIONARY. INNOVATOR.
TIRELESS ADVOCATE FOR THE ARTS.

When Sade Lythcott took over the reins of The National Black Theatre in 2008, she was supposed to stay for six months. Today she’s been there for twelve years and counting. She assumed the role after the loss her mother, the creative and civil rights icon Dr. Barbara Ann Teer. “My mother had these huge shoes to fill, and I did my best, but I was suffering from impostor syndrome,” she recalls. “The key to my own freedom,” came from one of her mother’s dearest friends Maya Angelou, who reminded her “that what the job requires is for me to lean into what makes me special, and to give that away as a gift.”

The last twelve months have proven to be a unique kind of challenge, but she’s relished the chance to carry on her mother’s work and legacy. “We have been shuttered since March of 2020. And we realized that, beyond what the government is doing to support us, that artists save each other—we save us.” The pivot has taken a shift in mindset. “All institutions, big and small, have to approach reopening like a startup. And the thing that’s amazing about startups is the innovation that it takes to restart, to reimagine.”

The possibilities of the moment have given her hope. “If there’s is a silver lining to what culture has experienced, it’s that we get to imagine, sometimes for the first time in a generation, how we can be each other’s anchors in a way that everybody is welcome.” Though theaters have closed, creativity has flourished. “We quickly learned how to pivot to digital platforms to make sure that we were still telling our stories.” A member of the New York governor’s task force on using flex spaces for theater, she also helps lead Culture@3, a daily call with over 700 cultural leaders

who come together to “lean into the possibilities of how we survive this.” The experience has been a lifeline. “It’s been a harrowing moment of coming together in innovative ways to buoy each other and keep each other afloat.”

“It’s so important to have artists at the table,” she says. And to make sure everyone is welcome. “Without people of color at that table our world is just not as vibrant. Theater artists, we have this sacred responsibility as storytellers, and the stories we tell inform the aspirations of who we can be. I’ve kind of taken the hat of essential arts worker to help New York build back better.”

Watch her film below to see how she’s helping to heal & uplift us all through art.

SEE HER LOOK

When Sade Lythcott took over the reins of The National Black Theatre in 2008, she was supposed to stay for six months. Today she’s been there for twelve years and counting. She assumed the role after the loss her mother, the creative and civil rights icon Dr. Barbara Ann Teer. “My mother had these huge shoes to fill, and I did my best, but I was suffering from impostor syndrome,” she recalls. “The key to my own freedom,” came from one of her mother’s dearest friends Maya Angelou, who reminded her “that what the job requires is for me to lean into what makes me special, and to give that away as a gift.”

The last twelve months have proven to be a unique kind of challenge, but she’s relished the chance to carry on her mother’s work and legacy. “We have been shuttered since March of 2020. And we realized that, beyond what the government is doing to support us, that artists save each other—we save us.” The pivot has taken a shift in mindset. “All institutions, big and small, have to approach reopening like a startup. And the thing that’s amazing about startups is the innovation that it takes to restart, to reimagine.”

The possibilities of the moment have given her hope. “If there’s is a silver lining to what culture has experienced, it’s that we get to imagine, sometimes for the first time in a generation, how we can be each other’s anchors in a way that everybody is welcome.” Though theaters have closed, creativity has flourished. “We quickly learned how to pivot to digital platforms to make sure that we were still telling our stories.” A member of the New York governor’s task force on using flex spaces for theater, she also helps lead Culture@3, a daily call with over 700 cultural leaders who come together to “lean into the possibilities of how we survive this.” The experience has been a lifeline. “It’s been a harrowing moment of coming together in innovative ways to buoy each other and keep each other afloat.”

“It’s so important to have artists at the table,” she says. And to make sure everyone is welcome. “Without people of color at that table our world is just not as vibrant. Theater artists, we have this sacred responsibility as storytellers, and the stories we tell inform the aspirations of who we can be. I’ve kind of taken the hat of essential arts worker to help New York build back better.

Watch her film below to see how she’s helping to heal & uplift us all through art.

SEE HER LOOK

 

“We get to imagine sometimes for the first time in a generation, how we can be each other’s anchors in a way that everybody is welcome.

 

“We get to imagine sometimes for the first time in a generation, how we can be each other’s anchors in a way that everybody is welcome.
Video

PAOLA
MENDOZA

STORYTELLER & FILMMAKER.
WAVEMAKER. PATH BREAKER.
CO-FOUNDER, THE WOMEN’S MARCH.

PAOLA
MENDOZA

STORYTELLER & FILMMAKER.
WAVEMAKER. PATH BREAKER.
CO-FOUNDER, THE WOMEN’S MARCH.

The mission of the storyteller, as Paola Mendoza envisions it, is to expand people’s hearts. “The best storytelling allows you to see someone in a different light,” she says, “And their story plants a seed inside of you that hopefully opens up your heart and allows you to sacrifice some of your own comfort for others that are in need.” It’s something she’s done as a filmmaker, as a co-founder of the largest global protest event in modern history—the women’s march in 2017—and as an author, most recently as the author of a novel called Sanctuary.

As a Colombian immigrant who moved to the US when she was very young, Paola Mendoza’s childhood was one of struggle. “I came with my mother and my brother to reunite with my father. One day he told my mother was going to work, and he never came back.” She found herself fighting low expectations: “The systems were set up for me to fail,” she says, “but I had a mother who demanded that I not take that road.” That experience inspired her work as an artist. “My work always deals with mothers and children and immigration, and that is a way in which I honor my mother every day and honor the sacrifices she made for me. I firmly believe, and she’s told me this is so, that her sacrifices ultimately were worth it.”

Whether she’s shooting a film or writing a book, she always aims to “shine a light on the unsung heroes” of this country. “So often we walk down the street, and we don’t think about the women who are cleaning our houses, or working in restaurants, or the doctor, how she got there. Those are the stories that my work strives to highlight, uplift and celebrate.” Her approach is built on “always keeping dignity at the center.” “I try to breed

compassion to help those that are in need.”

Through the many challenges of the last year, she says she’s still found hope in “collective joy,” and her community of women. “My work comes from a place of ultimately loving this country, and loving the people that are in this country, and making sure that we make the right decisions to protect all of us.” And other women have been her anchor. “Without the women in my life—strong, inspiring, beautiful, kind women—I don’t know where I would have been.”

Watch her film below to see how her experience as an immigrant has driven her passion.

SEE HER LOOK

The mission of the storyteller, as Paola Mendoza envisions it, is to expand people’s hearts. “The best storytelling allows you to see someone in a different light,” she says, “And their story plants a seed inside of you that hopefully opens up your heart and allows you to sacrifice some of your own comfort for others that are in need.” It’s something she’s done as a filmmaker, as a co-founder of the largest global protest event in modern history—the women’s march in 2017—and as an author, most recently as the author of a novel called Sanctuary.

As a Colombian immigrant who moved to the US when she was very young, Paola Mendoza’s childhood was one of struggle. “I came with my mother and my brother to reunite with my father. One day he told my mother was going to work, and he never came back.” She found herself fighting low expectations: “The systems were set up for me to fail,” she says, “but I had a mother who demanded that I not take that road.” That experience inspired her work as an artist. “My work always deals with mothers and children and immigration, and that is a way in which I honor my mother every day and honor the sacrifices she made for me. I firmly believe, and she’s told me this is so, that her sacrifices ultimately were worth it.”

Whether she’s shooting a film or writing a book, she always aims to “shine a light on the unsung heroes” of this country. “So often we walk down the street, and we don’t think about the women who are cleaning our houses, or working in restaurants, or the doctor, how she got there. Those are the stories that my work strives to highlight, uplift and celebrate.” Her approach is built on “always keeping dignity at the center.” “I try to breed compassion to help those that are in need.”

Through the many challenges of the last year, she says she’s still found hope in “collective joy,” and her community of women. “My work comes from a place of ultimately loving this country, and loving the people that are in this country, and making sure that we make the right decisions to protect all of us.” And other women have been her anchor. “Without the women in my life—strong, inspiring, beautiful, kind women—I don’t know where I would have been.”

Watch her film below to see how her experience as an immigrant has driven her passion.

SEE HER LOOK

 

“Without the women in my life—strong, inspiring, beautiful, kind women—I don’t know where I would have been.

 

“Without the women in my life—strong, inspiring, beautiful, kind women—I don’t know where I would have been.
Video

DR. HELEN
OUYANG

ER DOCTOR. FRONTLINE HERO.
GROUNDBREAKING WRITER WHO
HELPED US ALL UNDERSTAND THE PANDEMIC.

DR. HELEN
OUYANG

ER DOCTOR. FRONTLINE HERO.
GROUNDBREAKING WRITER WHO
HELPED US ALL UNDERSTAND THE PANDEMIC.

For Dr. Helen Ouyang, an Emergency Medicine Physician at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, her days last Spring melted into a blur. “Every shift was so chaotic, the suffering was so tremendous that I couldn’t grasp it at the time.” For her patients’, she was doctor, but also friend. “I had to be patient’s family members for them, because they couldn’t come inside the emergency room. I was the person sitting by their bedside and listening to them and holding their hand, and in some cases shepherding them to their deaths. And that was an extraordinary responsibility to have.”

Her interest in being a doctor was sparked early on. “When I was in seventh grade, I was taking a writing class by a surgeon who went to Honduras and operated on children with cleft lips. I saw how he was able to connect with the community even though he had just arrived and didn’t know the language. That really stuck with me and made me want to go into medicine.” As a journalist, her candid accounts help bring health care to life for her readers. Much like what drew her to medicine, she believes the urge to write comes from her desire to connect. “It’s the same thing, in that I’m trying to make a connection with people and explore their stories in a deeper, more meaningful way.

When she took pen to paper last April, “it was cathartic,” she says. “Even at the end of twelve, thirteen, fourteen-hour shifts, to come home and be able to write it down, I felt like I was able to process everything and honor each patient from that day.” Her account, published in the New York Times Magazine last May, gave insight into the true

toll of the virus and drew acclaim from around the globe. Amidst the devastation, she found rays of light. “I found hope in health care workers who I saw do their job with unflinching grace and compassion and tremendous sacrifice, even when it seemed like the whole world was falling down. ”

A year on from the darkest days of the pandemic in New York City, she’s still struck by the trust of those she treats. “The most incredible part of my job is that people are just willing to trust and open up their lives to me. I see them on their worst days, and they’re willing to let me into their lives to help them.”

Watch her film below to see how this extraordinary experience shaped her today.

SEE HER LOOK

For Dr. Helen Ouyang, an Emergency Medicine Physician at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, her days last Spring melted into a blur. “Every shift was so chaotic, the suffering was so tremendous that I couldn’t grasp it at the time.” For her patients’, she was doctor, but also friend. “I had to be patient’s family members for them, because they couldn’t come inside the emergency room. I was the person sitting by their bedside and listening to them and holding their hand, and in some cases shepherding them to their deaths. And that was an extraordinary responsibility to have.”

Her interest in being a doctor was sparked early on. “When I was in seventh grade, I was taking a writing class by a surgeon who went to Honduras and operated on children with cleft lips. I saw how he was able to connect with the community even though he had just arrived and didn’t know the language. That really stuck with me and made me want to go into medicine.” As a journalist, her candid accounts help bring health care to life for her readers. Much like what drew her to medicine, she believes the urge to write comes from her desire to connect. “It’s the same thing, in that I’m trying to make a connection with people and explore their stories in a deeper, more meaningful way.

When she took pen to paper last April, “it was cathartic,” she says. “Even at the end of twelve, thirteen, fourteen-hour shifts, to come home and be able to write it down, I felt like I was able to process everything and honor each patient from that day.” Her account, published in the New York Times Magazine last May, gave insight into the true toll of the virus and drew acclaim from around the globe. Amidst the devastation, she found rays of light. “I found hope in health care workers who I saw do their job with unflinching grace and compassion and tremendous sacrifice, even when it seemed like the whole world was falling down. ”

A year on from the darkest days of the pandemic in New York City, she’s still struck by the trust of those she treats. “The most incredible part of my job is that people are just willing to trust and open up their lives to me. I see them on their worst days, and they’re willing to let me into their lives to help them.”

Watch her film below to see how this extraordinary experience shaped her today.

SEE HER LOOK

 

“I saw them do their job with unflinching grace and compassion and tremendous sacrifice, even when it seemed like the whole world was falling down.

 

“I saw them do their job with unflinching grace and compassion and tremendous sacrifice, even when it seemed like the whole world was falling down.
Video

KAREN
BOYKIN-
TOWNS

VICE CHAIRMAN, NAACP NATIONAL BOARD OF
DIRECTORS. CORPORATE POWERHOUSE.
JUSTICE SEEKER. CHAMPION OF CHANGE.

KAREN
BOYKIN-
TOWNS

VICE CHAIRMAN, NAACP NATIONAL BOARD OF
DIRECTORS. CORPORATE POWERHOUSE.
JUSTICE SEEKER. CHAMPION OF CHANGE.

A corporate powerhouse who spent decades at Fortune 500 companies like Pfizer, Karen Boykin-Towns thought she had seen it all. But helping guide the NAACP last summer was “daunting,” she says. “We’ve been looking to meet the moment, helping our leaders in the field address the issues of economic inequality and the disparities around COVID.” She’s been heartened by the groundswell of support. “To look out all across America and see people saying enough is enough, and being allies at a time when we needed it most was empowering, it was refreshing, it was a sigh of relief.”

Being part of a seismic global movement for justice is not lost on her. “I’ve been doing a lot of reading on the civil rights movement. It’s incredible to realize I am living history and being a part of it.” It’s not what she expected when she took on the role. “These are the issues that my mother, my grandmother had dealt with,” she says, “but with change comes opportunity.”

She credits her network of “sister girlfriends” for helping keep her spirits up over the last twelve months. “Sometimes you feel like, ‘does anyone care, does it matter?’ But what I love is that we tell each other the truth even when we might not want to hear it. We celebrate each other as if the win was ours alone. And I value them because I know that they’ve got my back just as well as I have theirs.” Those friendships, and the example set by her mother, have helped her find her voice. “She her advocated for me and my education under very difficult circumstances. I think that was the foundation of me learning that my voice mattered, and that I could make a difference when I used it.” She recognizes that many people, particularly

women, struggle with how to speak up. “Using your voice doesn’t have to be speaking to tens of thousands of folks or being on the news. It can take many forms. It’s about figuring out what’s authentic and comfortable for you, and putting that out there.”

Looking forward, when she thinks of her two daughters, she feels hopeful. “We’ve raised them to be confident. To be UnordinaryWomen. And we’ve raised them to know that their voice matters.” She sees our coming together as another bright spot of the last year. “I have hope in our community. Because we’ve stepped up to help others and to band together to get through this.”

Watch her film to see why she thinks this is not just a moment, but a movement.

SEE HER LOOK

A corporate powerhouse who spent decades at Fortune 500 companies like Pfizer, Karen Boykins-Towns thought she had seen it all. But helping guide the NAACP last summer was “daunting,” she says. “We’ve been looking to meet the moment, helping our leaders in the field address the issues of economic inequality and the disparities around COVID.” She’s been heartened by the groundswell of support. “To look out all across America and see people saying enough is enough, and being allies at a time when we needed it most was empowering, it was refreshing, it was a sigh of relief.”

Being part of a seismic global movement for justice is not lost on her. “I’ve been doing a lot of reading on the civil rights movement. It’s incredible to realize I am living history and being a part of it.” It’s not what she expected when she took on the role. “These are the issues that my mother, my grandmother had dealt with,” she says, “but with change comes opportunity.”

She credits her network of “sister girlfriends” for helping keep her spirits up over the last twelve months. “Sometimes you feel like, ‘does anyone care, does it matter?’ But what I love is that we tell each other the truth even when we might not want to hear it. We celebrate each other as if the win was ours alone. And I value them because I know that they’ve got my back just as well as I have theirs.” Those friendships, and the example set by her mother, have helped her find her voice. “She her advocated for me and my education under very difficult circumstances. I think that was the foundation of me learning that my voice mattered, and that I could make a difference when I used it.” She recognizes that many people, particularly women, struggle with how to speak up. “Using your voice doesn’t have to be speaking to tens of thousands of folks or being on the news. It can take many forms. It’s about figuring out what’s authentic and comfortable for you, and putting that out there.”

Looking forward, when she thinks of her two daughters, she feels hopeful. “We’ve raised them to be confident. To be UnordinaryWomen. And we’ve raised them to know that their voice matters.” She sees our coming together as another bright spot of the last year. “I have hope in our community. Because we’ve stepped up to help others and to band together to get through this.”

Watch her film to see why she thinks this is not just a moment, but a movement.

SEE HER LOOK

 

“We have two young ladies who we are raising to be UnordinaryWomen. And we’ve raised them to know that their voice matters.

 

“We have two young ladies who we are raising to be UnordinaryWomen. And we’ve raised them to know that their voice matters.
Video

KAREN
CAHN

FOUNDER & CEO, IFUNDWOMEN.
EMPOWERING ENTREPRENEUR.
INNOVATOR. INVESTOR WITH IMPACT.

KAREN
CAHN

FOUNDER & CEO, IFUNDWOMEN.
EMPOWERING ENTREPRENEUR.
INNOVATOR. INVESTOR WITH IMPACT.

After years at tech giants like Google and YouTube, Karen Cahn decided to launch her first startup. It was a humbling experience. “It was a spectacular failure. But I love talking about it because it brought me to where I am today.” Coming from big tech, she says “I just didn’t realize that there were women that didn’t have equal opportunities to economic empowerment like men did.” But that quickly changed. “We were female founders who could not raise funding to save our lives.”

“We had tried raising venture capital,” she says, “We had tried taking out a bank loan, we had tried every which way to raise money for our startup and we couldn’t do it. And I thought to myself, if this privileged white lady in New York City is having a hard time raising capital, can you imagine what it’s like for the bulk of the female entrepreneurs out there?”

She created IFundWomen to “level the playing field.” During the pandemic, the devastation for women-owned businesses was particularly acute. Through deals with corporate partners, she was able to provide women-owned businesses with immediate access to debt-free capital, free coaching on everything from how to pivot during the pandemic to securing PPP loans, and lucrative connections to financing to grow their businesses through COVID-19.

She sees her work as helping make women’s dreams a reality. “Helping women entrepreneurs fund, launch, and grow their business has been the greatest joy of my life. It is my honor that every day I get to work with incredibly innovative women who are building our future frankly, because women

tend to build businesses that solve problems that need solving.” She works with female founders in a wide range of fields. “We’ve got everything from a block chain fintech app programmer to a farm-to-table restaurant and everything in between.” Supporting one another is essential to success. “Now more than ever it’s so important to rise up in sisterhood and support one another. We are behind in funding, and being on corporate boards, IPO’ing our companies, and wages. It’s so important for women to stand up for each other because we’re all we got.”

Watch her film below to see how she pivoted to help women’s businesses during the pandemic.

SEE HER LOOK

After years at tech giants like Google and YouTube, Karen Cahn decided to launch her first startup. It was a humbling experience. “It was a spectacular failure. But I love talking about it because it brought me to where I am today.” Coming from big tech, she says “I just didn’t realize that there were women that didn’t have equal opportunities to economic empowerment like men did.” But that quickly changed. “We were female founders who could not raise funding to save our lives.”

“We had tried raising venture capital,” she says, “We had tried taking out a bank loan, we had tried every which way to raise money for our startup and we couldn’t do it. And I thought to myself, if this privileged white lady in New York City is having a hard time raising capital, can you imagine what it’s like for the bulk of the female entrepreneurs out there?”

She created IFundWomen to “level the playing field.” During the pandemic, the devastation for women-owned businesses was particularly acute. Through deals with corporate partners, she was able to provide women-owned businesses with immediate access to debt-free capital, free coaching on everything from how to pivot during the pandemic to securing PPP loans, and lucrative connections to financing to grow their businesses through COVID-19.

She sees her work as helping make women’s dreams a reality. “Helping women entrepreneurs fund, launch, and grow their business has been the greatest joy of my life. It is my honor that every day I get to work with incredibly innovative women who are building our future frankly, because women tend to build businesses that solve problems that need solving.” She works with female founders in a wide range of fields. “We’ve got everything from a block chain fintech app programmer to a farm-to-table restaurant and everything in between.” Supporting one another is essential to success. “Now more than ever it’s so important to rise up in sisterhood and support one another. We are behind in funding, and being on corporate boards, IPO’ing our companies, and wages. It’s so important for women to stand up for each other because we’re all we got.”

Watch her film below to see how she pivoted to help women’s businesses during the pandemic.

SEE HER LOOK

 

“It’s my honor that every day I get to work with incredibly innovative women who are building our future, because women tend to build businesses that solve problems that need solving.

 

“It’s my honor that every day I get to work with incredibly innovative women who are building our future, because women tend to build businesses that solve problems that need solving.
Video

 

EVERY WOMAN HAS THE CAPACITY TO BE UNORDINARY—TO SET THE TONE, RAISE THE BAR, SHARE HER POWER, AND BRING OTHER WOMEN UP WITH HER.

 

EVERY WOMAN HAS THE CAPACITY TO BE UNORDINARY—TO SET THE TONE, RAISE THE BAR, SHARE HER POWER, AND BRING OTHER WOMEN UP WITH HER.

 

  

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UnordinaryWomen 2020 will benefit Girl Rising, a non-profit
using the power of storytelling to advocate for girls’ rights &
education around the world. Driven by decades of research demonstrating that educating girls is one of the most
effective ways to address global health and poverty, Girl
Rising creates campaigns showing girls standing up to
daunting barriers with determination and courage. Using
these stories, Girl Rising works with local partners to build
confidence and agency in girls, and inspire communities to
stand up for girls and against discrimination.

UnordinaryWomen 2020 will benefit Girl Rising, a non-profit using the power of storytelling to advocate for girls’ rights & education around the world. Driven by decades of research demonstrating that educating girls is one of the most effective ways to address global health and poverty, Girl Rising creates campaigns showing girls standing up to daunting barriers with determination and courage. Using these stories, Girl Rising works with local partners to build confidence and agency in girls, and inspire communities to stand up for girls and against discrimination.

 
 

JOIN THE CAUSE

FOR EVERY POST OR COMMENT USING OUR HASHTAG #L148UNORDINARYWOMEN AND TAGGING @LAFAYETTE148NY THROUGH MAY 15, 2020, WE’LL DONATE $10 TO GIRL RISING.

JOIN THE CAUSE

FOR EVERY POST OR COMMENT
USING OUR HASHTAG #L148UNORDINARYWOMEN AND TAGGING @LAFAYETTE148NY THROUGH MAY 15, 2020, WE’LL DONATE $10 TO GIRL RISING.

EVERY

MOTHER COUNTS

Every Mother Counts’ mission is to make pregnancy and childbirth safe, respectful and equitable for every mother, everywhere. Founded in 2010 by Christy Turlington Burns, EMC educates the public about maternal health and invests in community-led programs to improve access to essential maternity care. EMC engages communities, thought leaders, and partners in efforts to affect maternal health care practices and policies at a systemic level. To date, EMC has invested more than $21 million globally across 13 countries and has directly impacted more than one million lives. To learn more about this extraordinary organization, visit everymothercounts.org.

SHOP THE TEE IN SUPPORT OF EMC

JOIN THE

CAUSE

Follow us to see UnordinaryWomen unfold and help support Every Mother Counts. For every post or comment using our hashtag #L148UnordinaryWomen and tagging @lafayette148ny through May 12, 2021, we’ll donate $10 to Every Mother Counts.

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EXPERIENCE

THE EVENT

Missed our live UnordinaryWomen Extraordinary Voices event? We saved it all here, so you can still enjoy this unforgettable evening of laughter, tears and inspiration in conversation with our 2021 UnordinaryWomen and moderated by award-winning journalist Michele Norris. Click to watch it now.

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THE KNOW

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