2017 50 Most Beautiful

Courtney Burks
Courtney Burks
Redding, Calif.
Relationship Status: 
“Single but dating”
Party Affiliation: 

“Homesteading" — that’s the word Courtney Burks uses to describe what she does when she’s not traveling abroad.

Burks’s job as a State Department contractor leading the government’s global HIV response and her personal travels have taken her to more than 30 countries. She’ll add to that soon, with her first-ever trip to Congo in August.


When she’s home, Burks likes working with her hands: gardening, baking, do-it-yourself craft projects and even making her own jewelry.

Burks keeps a plot of land at a Columbia Heights community garden, where she raises basil, Thai peppers, eggplant, strawberries and other produce.

Right now, Burks’s workout schedule keeps her busy — she’ll compete in her first triathlon in Asheville, N.C., this month. She’s training sometimes twice a day, including “brick runs” after long bike rides, which get their name because of how heavy your legs feel.

“I feel like I have the best fitness regime I’ve ever had,” she says.

— Jonathan Easley