I’m thrilled to announce the latest addition to our growing Southland lineup: Former supermodel and founder of Every Mother Counts, Christy Turlington Burns.
I got the idea to invite Christy when I read a blog post about how social media and the tech press generally don’t talk about the right women. It struck a chord with me. There are more smart women starting companies and venture funds than I’ve seen before in the Valley. And yet, because many of them don’t crave attention “as a woman,” it’s a challenging narrative to tell. As this post pointed out, that’s made worse by the fact that memes like Justine Sacco’s Tweets or obsessions over Marissa Mayer’s mothering tactics or horrible link bait about women not having it all seem to suck all the oxygen out of the “women in tech” narrative.
Christy’s name was one of the ones mentioned in the post, reminding me of how she’s used her celebrity for good. She created Every Mother Counts, an advocacy group for global maternity health, after her own complications in pregnancy. They’ve done work throughout Haiti, Indonesia, Malawi, Uganda, and the US. In her own words: “I became a maternal health advocate the day I became a mom.” That I could relate to. Having kids has made me look at every mother and every child on the planet in a different way.
I’d met Christy in Pando’s early days at a dinner party in San Francisco and was struck by her strong mission with the organization, her knack for problem solving, and her modest demeanor. The article was right– she is exactly the kind of female entrepreneurs we should be highlighting, whether they run “tech” companies or not.
I reached out to Christy to ask her to tell her story on stage at Southland and she enthusiastically agreed. She joins a group as varied as Al Gore, Phil Libin, Aaron Levie, Tristan Walker, and more. You should be there too.
As a reminder, we also have a killer startup competition with an all star judging panel investing their own cash in the winner and a music lineup organized by the co-producers of Bonnaroo. Again thanks to our partners LaunchTN who are co-producing Southland with us (read: Getting all that fried chicken, BBQ, and whiskey ready.)