I am the Executive Director for Population Health at Spectrum Health Lakeland (SHL) in St. Joseph, Michigan. In this role, I support strategic efforts to improve the health of the regional population.
Since 2018, I have been a commissioner of the city of St. Joseph. I am also a member of the Downtown Development Planning Committee and I have served on a number of boards within our community, including the Edgewater Bank Board, Benton Harbor Promise Zone, the Berrien County Mental Health Authority, and Cornerstone Alliance.
In 2018, I received a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Culture of Health Leadership award. This leadership program is for people working in a wide variety of professionals seeking to build a Culture of Health. For more about the Culture Health Leadership program, please visit https://cultureofhealth-leaders.org/
I’ve been a keynoter, a panelist, and a moderator at conferences throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe on topics including social exclusion, the social determinants of mental health, mental health impact assessment, and health equity as well as social problems such as poverty, unemployment, food insecurity, incarceration, violence, homelessness. For a list of select presentations please see my CV.
Nov 6th: Training – Adverse Childhood Experiences, Watervliet Community Schools (Michigan)
November 15th: Presentation – Society of History and Racial Equity Annual Summit on Racism
December 3rd: Panel Moderator – Modern Health Care Magazine, Social Determinants of Behavioral Health, Detroit, MI
December 6th: Training – Adverse Childhood Experiences for Children’s Advocacy Center of Southwest Michigan
I am passionate about population health and, in particular, the health marginalized and disadvantaged communities. To that end, I have served on the boards of such organizations such as Sergeant Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, and the Heartland Alliance for Human Rights and Human Needs.
I have written a number of opinion pieces including:
Berrien County children are suffering their own ‘invisible’ traumas. Herald Palladium. June 2018
In the wake of Flint crisis, are we asking the right questions? Guest Column, Herald Palladium February 21, 2016.
The overlooked effect of ‘criminal records’ on the unemployed. Chicago Crain’s “Morning 10.” June 6, 2013.
Arson: Blue-collar America is burning. Flint Journal. April 8, 2013.
Modern life is killing us. salon.com. August 11, 2012.
New EEOC guidelines on discrimination based on arrests, convictions bring hope to some communities. Chicago Reporter. May 9, 2012.
Arrests and Hiring. New York Times. Editorial Page. May 6, 2012.
Depiction of Englewood isn’t Fair. Chicago Sun-Times. October 2011.
We are working to determine the impact that both Community
Grand Rounds and Brave Talks are having on our community at large. This research leverages my role as a Robert Wood Johnson Culture of Health Leader.
Previously, I examined the relationship between diet and anti-social behaviors among youth. I did this work to determine whether living in a food desert (one of the many social determinants of health) might be a factor contributing to community violence. I am currently developing research around other social determinants of health, such as employment, income, education and housing.
Join the Community Book Read
Community Grand Rounds is sponsoring a community discussion of Debby Irving’s book “Waking Up White.”
Gatherings will be held at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 12th at the First Presbyterian Church of Benton Harbor, 475 Green Ave.; and Thursday, Nov. 14th from 3-5 p.m. at the St. Joseph library and 5-7 p.m. at the Benton Harbor library.
Along with copies for sale at Forever Books, the St. Joseph library will have 35 copies available, and an audio version can be downloaded.
BRAVE TALKS STORIES: The people taking part in southwest Michigan in continuing conversations – called Brave Talks – about racism’s effect on health are finding themselves changed. Here, as part of a series, is one participant’s story.
– David Williams
Community Grand Rounds (CGR)
Launched in 2018, Community Grand Rounds (CGR) hosts local and nationally recognized speakers who discuss the issues of health equity and population health. Speakers address the health implications of racism as well as the emerging sciences of epigenetics and social genomics. The events are designed for professionals in medicine, allied health fields, and social work, as well as government leaders and community members.
Visit the Community Grand Rounds Speaker Series
Community Grand Rounds (CGR) is an effort to raise awareness and understanding of this new science and its implications for health. In a series of speakers and discussions, Spectrum’s clinicians, administrators, and 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 Spectrum Health Lakeland.
One Street Two Worlds
Community Grand Rounds has a mission to heal the trauma of racism through education and awareness. Watch this video as Dr. Loren Hamel
Why Are Things the Way They Are?
Community Grand Rounds has a mission to heal the trauma of racism through education and awareness. Watch this video as Dr. Lynn Todman interviews Dr. David Ansell and asks about the double dynamic of race and poverty. David Ansell is the author of “The Death Gap: How Inequality Kills” and co-author of “County: Life, Death and Politics at Chicago’s Public Hospital.”
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.
Health Inequities in Berrien County, Mi
The Community Grand Rounds Initiative requires the use of a health equity lens to identify and address the impact of institutional policies on health inequalities. The statistics support this focus.
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)
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 inspired 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 CGR?
Todman shares she wants people to walk away with increased awareness around the following:
- There is no biological basis for the concept of race
- Racism is a form of psychological trauma
- Like all forms of trauma the toxic impacts are preventable.
Interview with Dr. Bechara Coucair
Kaiser Permanente’s Dr. Bechara Coucair interviewed by Spectrum Health Lakeland’s Norma Tirado on what matters most to community health.
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.
Let's talk about health
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
‘Weathering’ Theory Scholar Says Researchers Don’t Focus Enough on Black Americans’ Lived Experience By TED HARTZELL BERRIEN SPRINGS, Mich. – The pictures on the auditorium screen showed five vibrant, accomplished young women, all African-American, all in their 20s...read more
BERRIEN SPRINGS, Mich. – Weathering is a word – and a process – that works in contradictory ways. Biologically speaking, weathering can be good – until the price paid for it becomes too high. And then it turns bad. Arline Geronimus, Sc.D., the University of Michigan...read more
Lynn Todman (left), executive director for population health at Spectrum Health Lakeland in St. Joseph, Mich., poses with University of Michigan public health professor Arline Geronimus. Todman is heading a project to help close the wide gap in health outcomes between...read more
‘Waking Up White’ Author Invites White Audience Members to Look Inside By TED HARTZELL BENTON HARBOR, Mich.—You don’t get much whiter than Debby Irving. Her husband Bruce attests to this on the jacket of her book, “Waking Up White: And Finding Myself in the Story of...read more
BENTON HARBOR, Mich.—There’s something that happened to Debby Irving a lot when she was signing copies of her book, “Waking Up White: And Finding Myself in the Story of Race,” after its publication in 2014. Invariably a white person would say to her: “You know, I...read more
‘Waking Up White’ Author Will Give Tips Oct. 3 for Working across Racial Lines BENTON HARBOR, Mich.—Debby Irving won’t be accompanied by a hot light and a good cop/bad cop duo when she brings a message to white people Oct. 3 about how they can begin to work together...read more
How Some White People Respond to a Certain Term BENTON HARBOR, Mich.—The term “white privilege” is cropping up a lot recently. Racial justice educator Debby Irving said the term, inexact though it is, comes closest in her line of work to describe the different lives...read more
Dr. Bechara Choucair, chief community health officer for Kaiser Permanente, speaks to an audience July 17 in Berrien Springs, Mich., as part of Community Grand Rounds: Healing the Trauma of Racism.Kaiser Permanente and Community Partners Move Homeless into Housing and...read more
Lynn Todman, PhD, the executive director for population health of Spectrum Health Lakeland (left), asks questions of Dr. Bechara Choucair of Kaiser Permanente during his July 17 presentation. 3 ways Health Systems Can Make Communities Healthier By TED HARTZELL ...read more