I’m Lynn Todman, PhD 




About Me


I am the Executive Director for Population Health at Spectrum Health Lakeland (SHL) in St. Joseph, Michigan. In this role, I support the 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. 


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.



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


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.


Community Grand Rounds (CGR)

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).  Launched in 2018, the series will host speakers who will travel to Southwest Michigan, home of Spectrum Health Lakeland (SHL), 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 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.

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


How Housing = Health … Or Illness

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...

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Schools, Businesses, the Environment

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 ...

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Lessons from a Black Man and a White Intruder

Finally, I’d get the chance to know Gentry better. As one of the youth leaders of our church at the time, Gentry told Bible stories with mesmerizing charm. He spun tales of gore and redemption and salvation in a way that kept teenagers engaged. He got them talking and asking questions.

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A Diverse Team from 25 States

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Names Lynn Todman a Culture of Health Leader Todman Joins 39 Other Fellows Working Toward Health Equity By CGR Communications ST. JOSEPH, Mich. – Being a leader can sometimes be lonely. But when you can lean on and bounce ideas off other...

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14½ Months, 22 Deaths

Jerry Price, manager of diversity and inclusion for Spectrum Health Lakeland, lost 22 friends in a period of just over one year.   Mounting Losses of Black Male Friends in Their 40s Makes Man, 46, Ponder the Reasons. His No. 1 Suspect: Long-Term Stress ST....

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A Somber Accounting

As president of the class of 1990, Jerry was in frequent contact with classmates and friends from his high school days. He was often notified of these friends’ deaths and sometimes asked to speak at their funerals.   Here is the list Jerry Price assembled of 22...

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‘White Saviors? — or Just Well-Meaning?

Benton Harbor head coach Elliot Uzelac speaks with his team after practice on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016 in Benton Harbor, Mich. (Bryan Bennett | MLive.com) Story of Black Team’s Miracle Turnaround Provokes Myriad Feelings During a ‘Courageous Conversation’ ST. JOSEPH,...

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

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BERRIEN SPRINGS, Mich. – Who were these people living on the streets? That’s what the huge health system and insurer Kaiser Permanente wanted to know.
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Spectrum Health Lakeland Community Grand Rounds addresses how racism plays a role in community health. Come and hear Dr. Bechara Choucair, on Wednesday! https://t.co/kN0OLpWVgu #cgr #bravetalks
More like this at https://t.co/Yc7lHsqste.

Join us in Benton Harbor, MI on July 17 and hear Kaiser Permanente's Chief Community Health Officer, Bechara Choucair, MD.


Robin DiAngelo articulates structural racism eloquently:
"All of our institutions effectively and efficiently reproduce it. Just by virtue of the homogeneity of those sitting at the tables making decisions that impact the lives of those who aren't sitting at those tables.

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