Meet Kristen Kirkland
Meet the Muse: Kristen Kirkland ~ runner, mother, maternal healthcare advocate
Where and when are you most inspired?
When I am among my colleagues and runners for Every Mother Counts, with whom I have the opportunity to work with collaboratively to achieve EMC’s mission to make pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother, everywhere.
What are you most passionate about?
My job, my daughters, running, making a difference in this world.
What change would you like to see in the world?
The end of preventable maternal deaths.
Tell us about your work:
I am the HR Director and Running Program Director for Every Mother Counts, a maternal health advocacy organization dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother, every where. I handle all of the internal HR processes for EMC. However, I spend most of my time focused on our running program. This means I manage the teams for our official races, which include Big Sur, NYC Half Marathon, Chicago Marathon, and NYC Marathon, to name a few. In addition, I manage the EMC Running Ambassador Program, comprised of 45 men and women across the US and Europe who are managing teams of runners and building EMC supporters within their own communities.
How/why were you called to this work?
I earned my PhD in Industrial/Organizational Psychology and worked for several years in the financial services industry, focused on leadership development and management training. While this work was incredibly interesting and valuable from a learning perspective, I knew that I wanted to apply my skills in a nonprofit setting. Shortly after becoming a mom, I discovered Every Mother Counts. I started volunteering, providing pro bono consulting services. As time went on and the organization continued to grow, the need arose for me to spend more time building an internal HR infrastructure. At the same time, the running program was gaining traction, so I began to spend time focused on more systematically growing that part of the organization as well. It is a job that is a perfect combination of my passions and for a cause that is incredibly close to my heart. In essence, the dream job.
What has been the greatest challenge in your work?
Every Mother Counts has been a start up organization that is now transitioning into its next stage of development. There is so much potential, so many wonderful opportunities for continued growth, that sometimes it’s a challenge to not work ALL of the time. I get the opportunity to interact with so many wonderful supporters, runners that reach out and want to do whatever they can to help us achieve our mission. I often wish I didn’t need to sleep! But it is also incredibly important to me that I spend time with my family. I am able to work from home a couple of days a week and have my family join me for as many events as possible. We work hard to ensure our time together is quality time.
What is your advice to young women who want to do what you do?
Explore every opportunity you can. Talk to people. Ask others how they have gotten where they are. Be creative. You might end up on a totally different path than you originally planned, but if an opportunity presents itself and it feels right, take the chance.
What 4 words would you tell your teenage self?
Do not doubt yourself.
What has been your greatest lesson?
I cannot control everything and I don’t know what the future brings, and that is an incredibly exciting thing about life.
If you had the world’s attention, what would you say?
There are many problems in this world, so many of which are solvable, if we just stop and take the time to work together. Ending maternal deaths is one of those solvable problems. Families and communities are all better off when mothers are there to raise their children and participate as vibrant members of their communities. Let’s solve this problem together.
What is your personal motto or mantra?
Be open to riding the wave of new experiences, you never know what they will bring.
Thank you for the inspiration. xo, muse
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