I’m Lynn Todman, PhD 




About Me


I am passionate about population health and, in particular, the health of communities of color and raising awareness of how racism can impact health.


Most recently, my research examined the relationship between urban food deserts and community challenges, such as violence. My working hypothesis was that the diets of people who live in food deserts may contribute to problems such as poor educational outcomes, unemployment, poverty, incarceration and a host of other challenges faced by low income communities. To test this hypothesis, I led a transdisciplinary team of professionals and community residents in an observational study to determine if dietary changes could lead to behavioral changes and improved academic outcomes in youth.



I am the Executive Director for Population Health at Lakeland Health System in St. Joseph, Michigan. In this role, I support the strategic efforts to improve the health of the regional population.


I’ve been a keynoter, a panelist, and a moderator at conferences throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe on a variety of topics, including social exclusion, the social determinants of mental health, mental health impact assessment, and health equity. I have also addressed issues such as poverty, unemployment, food insecurity, incarceration, violence, and homelessness.

Right Now!

Here is what I am working on right now.

Community Grand Rounds: Healing the Trauma of Racism.  My current focus is a speaker series titled, Community Grand Rounds (CGR).  Launching in 2018 and concluding in 2020, the series will host speakers who will travel to Southwest Michigan, home of Lakeland Health, to share their knowledge of and insights into the emerging science underlying racialized health inequities. Speakers will address themes such as the health implications of psychological trauma and racism as well as the emerging science of epigenetics and social genomics. The audience for this series will include health care providers, government leaders and community residents.

Welcome to Lakeland Health’s Community Grand Rounds, a speaker series that examines how the trauma of racism affects the health of the people we serve, and how to be more aware of and better address those impacts in our professional encounters.

In Southwest Michigan’s Berrien County, poor people, and especially African Americans, experience high rates of the illnesses identified as Priority Health Needs in Lakeland’s Community Health Needs Assessment. Data provided by the Berrien County Health Department finds blacks have higher rates of obesity, diabetes, stroke and psychological distress when compared to whites. While these differences are attributable to poor access to resources required for good health, like healthy food, quality education and safe housing, emerging science is showing there’s something deeper at work.

New knowledge in the field of neuroscience and in the emerging fields of epigenetics and social genomics suggests that the experience of discrimination is strongly associated with health inequities. In particular, we are learning that the social environment we live in impacts our genes, our hormones, inflammation in our bodies, our immune systems and, therefore, our overall health. For health care providers and others, awareness of the health effects of discrimination, such as racism, is critical to optimizing patient and population health.

Community Grand Rounds is Lakeland’s effort to raise awareness and understanding of this new science and its implications for health. In a series of speakers and discussions between 2018 and 2020, Lakeland’s doctors, nurses, other clinical staff, board members as well as government and community leaders will learn from experts about the impact of racism on health. The goal is to inform and to set the stage for further discussions and actions leading to improved health outcomes across the population served by Lakeland.

Community Grand Rounds is a collaborative effort between Lakeland health and The Todman Family Foundation.

 For more information, contact Lynn Todman, PhD through the contact form below.

“In the United States, as in other racialized countries in the world, racially stigmatized and disenfranchised populations have worse health than their more advantaged counter evident in higher rates of mortality, earlier onset of disease, greater severity and progression of disease, and higher levels of comorbidity and impairment. In addition, disadvantaged racial populations tend to have both lower levels of access to medical care and to receive care that is poorer in quality.” - David Williams

Facts Matter

Everyday Discrimination and Metabolic Syndrome - Racially Diverse Women's Health. Beatty (2018)

For every 1 point increase in discrimination score, 3% increase in incidence of Metabolic Syndrome (hypertension, obesity, lipids).

Discrimination and Cardiovascular Risk in Low-Income African American Youth. Goosby (2015)

Increase in perceived discrimination among youth aged 10-15 significantly associated with higher inflammatory markers and onset of hypertension

Discrimination and Depression among African American Men. Wheaton (2018)

Everyday discrimination is a consistent predictor of depression among African American men throughout their life.

Los Angeles High School Students Concerned About Increasing Societal Discrimination


Of 2572 adolescents in a Los Angeles High School surveyed, concern about increasing societal discrimination was associated with higher rates of substance use, a greater number of different substances used, and 11% higher odds of depression.

Of 2572 adolescents in a Los Angeles High School surveyed, concern about increasing societal discrimination was associated with higher rates of substance use, a greater number of different substances used, and 12% greater odds of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms.

Association of Reported Concern About Increasing Societal Discrimination With Adverse Behavioral Health Outcomes in Late Adolescence. (JAMA Pediatrics, October 2018) 

Percent of Uninsured Among Communities of Color in the United States 









Non-Hispanic Whites

In 2017, non-Hispanic whites had the lowest uninsured rate among race and Hispanic-origin groups. The uninsured rates for blacks and Asians were 10.6 percent and 7.3 percent, respectively. Hispanics had the highest uninsured rate  at 16.1 percent nationally.

Data Source: Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2017 https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2018/income-poverty.html

2016 Infant Mortality Rates in the State of Michigan per 100,000 Infants


Black Infants


White Infants

2016 Infant Mortality Rates in Berrien County Michigan per 100,000 Infants


Black Infants


White Infants

State of Michigan Data Source: https://www.mdch.state.mi.us/pha/osr/InDxMain/Tab2.asp

Berrien County Michigan Data Source: https://www.mdch.state.mi.us/pha/osr/InDxMain/BckCoTbl.asp

The acclaimed author of A Raisin in the Sun and civil rights activist, Lorraine Hansberry, died of pancreatic cancer at age 34 in 1965. At her funeral, author James Baldwin said: “It is not at all farfetched to suspect that what she saw contributed to the strain which killed her, for the effort to which Lorraine was dedicated is more than enough to kill a man.”


What is Community Grand Rounds?

Dr. Lynn Todman shares how “CGR” became a speaker’s series designed to deepen the understanding of how racism impacts the health in communities of color.

What was the source of inspiration for Community Grand Rounds? 

Spurred on by the findings of Lakeland Health’s Community Needs Assessment, Todman found significant health disparities in the region that she wanted to delve into further.

What can people expect to take away from Community Grand Rounds?

Todman shares she wants people to walk away with increased awareness around the following:

  1. There is no biological basis for the concept of race
  2. Racism is a form of psychological trauma
  3. Like all forms of trauma the toxic impacts are preventable.

What is the impact of stress on health?

Tasha N. Turner, MA, LLPC, Program Director, Trauma Informed Initiatives  discusses our physical response to stress. 


What is the body’s response to stress?

Our physical well-being is reliant on our mental and emotional state.

Dr. Loren B. Hamel, President & CEO of Lakeland Health, interviews Dr. Patricia Rush about her research on the impact of psychological trauma on the brain and on chronic disease and health inequities.
It was exciting to be a part of “Navigating a New World Order” at the Hope Global Forum in Atlanta, Georgia on March 26-28, 2018.
These short animated videos tell my story of growing up on the South Side of Chicago and my observations about implicit bias.
Does a better diet lead to better behavior? While the science indicates that it does, children in one Benton Harbor, Michigan, school helped to demonstrate the link between better mental health and a food palate that involves less sugar, preservatives, trans fats and other additives and more fish, whole grains and green leafy vegetables. During the 12-week project, the students at Sorter ate meals based on scientific studies over the past 20 years that show a strong correlation between diets high in omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins and other essential nutrients help to reduce aggressive and anti-social behavior. Here’s what we learned from Sorter School’s staff and project leads.
Here are some interesting and important TED Talks on the subject of racism and its impact on health. The first is by Dr. David Williams, our July 2018 Community Grand Rounds speaker.
The new field of epigenetics sees that genes can be turned on and off and expressed differently through changes in environment and behavior. Rachel Yehuda is a pioneer in understanding how the effects of stress and trauma can transmit biologically, beyond cataclysmic events, to the next generation. [Listen to her podcast here]
David Williams Live Stream CGR Event

Understanding The Health Consequences Of Racism & What You Can Do About It. July 10, 2018 10:00 am to 11:30 am


Talking, in Black and White

Health Officer Britten Says Candid Talk about Race Can Spark Empathy and Action to Fix Health Inequities BENTON HARBOR, Mich. – Most adults in the U.S. probably know about “The Talk” black parents have with their teenage sons. This is the protective advice designed to...

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Closing ‘The Death Gap’

Dr. David Ansell likes to say he practiced internal medicine for decades along “one street” but in “two worlds.” The street is Ogden Avenue, which links Chicago neighborhoods of great wealth, and correspondingly long lifespans, with poor neighborhoods and far shorter lifespans. One world is predominantly white, the other predominantly black and brown.

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What Can We Do?

Harvard sociologist David Williams offered many ways people can fight back against institutional racism and implicit bias and make a healthier social environment for all people. His suggestions range from little daily acts to big reforms.

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Systemic Racism Adds Another Layer of Trauma for Many People; Therapist Calls it ‘A Public Health Crisis’

As a program director, Turner, a psychotherapist, directs trauma-informed initiatives for Lakeland Health, the health care system that serves Berrien County in southwest Michigan. In that role Turner is looking at the lives of many tens of thousands of people. It is a county polarized by race and economic disparities—and big gaps in health outcomes between blacks and whites. The view from Turner’s Lakeland perch is necessarily disturbing.

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"Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity."

Please contact me below with thoughts, suggestions, questions or just to say hello.


Latest Tweets. Come join us on Twitter. (click here)

I love the reframe of racial justice work a being about constantly finding equilibrium and consistently recalibrating the world around us. https://t.co/GRGmOQZPr1

The Pot is about to boil in Berrien County. Keep up the heat! https://t.co/D0tx1Fr1S6

Health Officer Britten says candid talk about race can spark empathy and action to fix health inequities. https://t.co/h9pwOLbmTq

Am I sick because I'm black? A fascinating read.
For more like this, visit me at https://t.co/pzucAUK3iO

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