LMC awards inaugural Spirit of MLK Spotlight honors

Published 2:00 pm Monday, January 18, 2021

BENTON HARBOR — Lynn Todman, vice president of Health Equity at Spectrum Health Lakeland, Jada Willis, Miss Benton Harbor 2020, and the Race Relations Council of Southwest Michigan are the featured recipients of the inaugural Spirit of MLK Spotlights during the virtual kickoff event for Now is the Time! The MLK Celebration Week.

The Spirit of MLK Spotlights are designed to shine a light on an individual, organization and student who embodies Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s spirit of brotherhood/sisterhood and love through their direct action throughout the community, officials. These honors were presented Monday morning during the MLK Celebration Week Kickoff.

  • Lynn Todman — Individual Spotlight

Lynn Todman is the vice president of Health Equity at Spectrum Health Lakeland in St. Joseph, where she leads efforts to advance health equity. She is the catalyst behind Community Grand Rounds, which aims to educate and heighten awareness of structural racism on health and stimulate community and health system action to address racial health inequities.

She was instrumental in the establishment of the Center for Better Health in Benton Harbor.

Todman, who also serves as a commissioner for the city of St. Joseph, is a Robert Wood Johnson Culture of Health Leader, which develops leaders to advance health equity through cross-sector and cross-professional collaborations.

Before her role at Spectrum, she was vice president for leadership in social justice and the executive director of the Institute on Social Exclusion at the Adler School of Professional Psychology in Chicago. Todman also has held teaching and research positions at the University of Milan, Politicnico di Milano, Western Michigan University, University of Notre Dame, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

She earned a bachelor of arts from Wellesley College, and a master’s in city planning and a Ph.D. in urban and regional planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

  • Jada Willis — Student Spotlight

Jada Willis is a Berrien Springs High School graduate and a music student at Lake Michigan College.

During high school, she was an honor roll student, dual-enrolled at LMC and Southwestern Michigan College. As secretary of her student council, Willis orchestrated the first Black History Month Assembly. Shortly after, she helped form and was active in the school’s Black Student Association. Willis was a member of the high school’s audition choir, Bel Canto, where she received numerous awards, was a soloist, and part of an ensemble at the district and state level. She also performed in musicals at both Berrien Springs and LMC and continues to sing and play the piano at her church.

As a young leader in the community, Willis has worked as a growth intern with Spectrum Health Lakeland in the diversity, equity, and inclusion department. She is currently working at the Center for Better Health in Benton Harbor as a Community Survey Specialist, helping identify health care gaps in the community of Benton Harbor.

Willis was named Miss Benton Harbor 2020 and second runner-up to Miss Blossomtime 2020. After graduating from LMC, she plans to transfer to Western Michigan University to continue work toward a bachelor’s degree in music therapy. She ultimately wants to continue her graduate studies at a historically Black college or university.

  • Race Relations Council of Southwest Michigan — Organization Spotlight

The Race Relations Council of Southwest Michigan was founded in 1998 to bring together individuals from different racial groups to reduce stereotypes and prejudice and increase mutual understanding, respect, and trust; and identify and combat racial inequality and racial injustice.

In the past 23 years, the Race Relations Council has participated in a wide variety of activities, including countering messages of hate brought to southwest Michigan by the Ku Klux Klan; identifying and publicizing racial disparities in home lending practices; investigating and publicizing racial attitudes and behaviors in Benton Harbor and St. Joseph; consulting with Lakeland Hospital on the establishment of a diversity and inclusion program; collaborating with other local and regional groups to promote the establishment of a Public Defenders Office in Berrien County; organizing multiple yearly forums at Lake Michigan College during the week of MLK Jr.’s birthday; supporting the All God’s Children Community Choir and the Calling All Colors program; and awarding college scholarships to individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to improving race relations and working for social justice in southwest Michigan.