Past Events

Dr. Sekeita Lewis-Johnson and CGR Summit Panelists 

Black Maternal and Infant Health  

Dr. Sekeita Lewis-Johnson is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner, international board-certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) and doula. She is the Accredited Provider Program Director and an Instructor for Lactation Education Resources. She believes that breastfeeding self-efficacy, along with skilled and timely lactation support are key to breastfeeding success.



  • Bianca Nash-Miot, IBCLC, CD, CPE, Owner of Birth Queens and Milk Queens
  • James Gunter, Executive Director at Present Pillars
  • Karissa White, Community member
  • Tameka White, CLS, Founder of Lactpower
    A community panel, passionate about providing resources and solutions to address maternal and infant health inequities, discussed local strategies to improve awareness and provide more breastfeeding support in the Black community.


Additional Resources

  • Birth Queens and Milk Queens offers comprehensive birth doula and lactation counselor services for pregnant and breastfeeding families, focusing on advancing health equity for Black communities. Through partnerships and community groups, they reach families of color in many counties throughout Southwest Michigan.  
  • Black Mothers Breastfeeding Association’s objective is to provide education, valuable resources and ongoing support to Black families and public or private agencies that service these families. 
  • Commonsense Childbirth is a non-profit organization whose mission is to improve birth outcomes and save lives by offering training and certification programs for health care professionals, para-professionals, maternity care systems and medical institutions interested in creating perinatal safety for at-risk populations. 
  • LactPower is a community organization in Berrien County that provides breastfeeding and post-doula support services.
  • Present Pillars is a local organization that provides resources and support to families and fathers within the community. It supports the philosophy that a healthy father supports a healthy family, which leads to a healthy community. 
  • Southeast Michigan IBCLC’s of Color is an organization committed to reducing disparities in Black maternal and infant mortality in Southeast Michigan. They provide services for families, develop advocacy, leverage relationships and mentor other professionals developing a career in the Black maternal and infant health space. 

Natalie Moore and Housing Summit Panelists 

Health, Housing and Healing  

Natalie Moore is an award-winning author and journalist whose enterprise reporting has tackled race, housing, economic development, food injustice and violence for the NPR Chicago Affiliate, WBEZ and the Chicago Sun Times. Her presentation helps people understand the history of how racial segregation came to be and pushes readers to consider a variety of ways through which it might be reversed.



  • Ashley Hines, Executive Director at Benton Harbor Community Development Corporation
  • Mike Keen, Managing Partner at Hometowne Development
  • Ryan Kilpatrick, Lead Consultant at Housing Next
  • Tiyanna Williams, Equitable Housing Advocate
  • Local and regional housing experts share their experience in the industry, provide community-driven solutions to housing insecurity, and voice their opinions on how to support and empower residents in the communities they serve.


Additional Resources:

Daniel Dawes

Political Determinants of Health Inequities

Dr. Lynn Todman, vice president of health equity at Spectrum Health interviews health policy expert, Daniel Dawes, JD, executive director of Satcher Health Leadership Institute at the Morehouse School of Medicine.


Nwamaka Eneanya 

Controversies in Medicine: Lessons Learned from Using Race to Manage Kidney Disease

Dr. Lynn Todman, vice president of health equity at Spectrum Health interviews clinical investigator and assistant professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania, Nwamaka Eneanya, MD, MPH, FASN. To watch the full presentation click here


Aletha Maybank, MD, MPH, Nicki Britten, MPH, & Renee Canaday, PhD, MPA

Health Equity in Action

Dr. Lynn Todman, vice president of health equity at Spectrum Health interviews health equity experts on what health equity is, why it matters, and what it looks like in action for healthcare systems. Our guests provide concrete ideas about the kinds of activities health systems should be engaged in to advance health equity. To watch the full presentation click here


Harriet Washington

Building a Trustworthy Healthcare System: Notes from History, Ethics and Contemporary Crises

Dr. Jason Beckrow, Caring Circle medical director, interviews award-winning medical writer and editor, Harriet Washington.


Patricia Rush, MD, MBA & Tasha Turner, MA, LLPC

Moving Our Community Toward Health Equity

Lakeland Program Director for Trauma-Informed Initiatives, Tasha Turner, MA, LLPC, and internal medicine physician, Pat Rush, MD, MBA, discuss the impact of psychological trauma on the brain and on chronic disease and health inequities. They also provide strategies for overcoming the effects of trauma.

Additional Resources:

David Williams, MPH, PhD

Understanding The Health Consequences Of Racism & What You Can Do About It

This presentation provides an overview of the large and persistent socioeconomic and racial disparities in health. It highlights scientific evidence that reveals distinctive social exposures linked to racial status; these race-related aspects of social experience create inequities in health and health care quality. It also reviews scientific evidence which documents that tackling the social determinants of health can lead to improvements in health and reductions in health inequities.

The focus is on both interventions within the health care system that address some of the social determinants of health, as well as interventions in factors (such as housing, neighborhood conditions, economic well-being, and early childhood development) that can lead to improvements in health and reduced social inequities in health.

Additional Resources:

David Ansell, MD, MPH

How Inequality Kills: Health Systems and Health Equity

Dr. Ansell speaks about Rush’s strategy to be a catalyst for community health and economic vitality on Chicago’s West Side and how those strategies can be applied to southwest Michigan.

Additional Resources

Bechara Choucair, MD

Advancing Health? It's About the Mind, Body, and Community

Dr. Choucair shares how his organization is working to improve conditions for health and equity by building communities that have stable affordable housing, meaningful work that pays a living wage, successful schools, clean air and water, nourishing foods in neighborhood stores, and safe places to exercise and play.

Additional Resources

Debby Irving

I'm a Good Person! Isn't That Enough? How Power and Privilege Undermine Best Intentions

Debby explores how her beliefs influenced her interpretation of the world through U.S. history, media messages, and cultural habits. She explores how she spent decades silently reaffirming harmful, outdated racial patterns instead of questioning the racial disparities and tensions she could see and feel.

Additional Resources

Arline Geronimus

Weathering and Health Inequality: Letting the Epigenome Out of the Bottle Without Losing Sight of the Structural Origins of Population Health

Dr. Geronimus—Professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health and Institute for Social Research and member of the National Academy of Medicine—originated the concept of "weathering" to explain her observation that African American women’s health declines in early adulthood as a result of their cumulative exposure to socioeconomic disadvantage. This concept is now widely seen as critical to understanding the sources and mechanisms of racial and ethnic health inequity.

Additional Resources

Creating Safe Spaces for African-American Men: Exploring Manhood and Mental Health

Monday, June 29

Live: 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.

A discussion on the unique experiences of African-American men and maintaining mental health. We'll examine how we begin to reduce stigma, increase conversation, and build generational health.

Samuel Jones is an avid community engager. From therapizing in marginalized communities to coaching high school football and shepherding at West Michigan's largest church, he enjoys seeing people reach their goals and find their place of healing. Samuel holds a Master of Arts in Counseling degree from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary.

David Thomas has a special interest in the health of the African-American family with particular goals of creating safe spaces for African-American males across the lifespan. His social experiences within family, religion, community, military, law enforcement, and education have informed his work in mental health. David has a BA in Criminal Justice from the University of Toledo and a MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Spring Arbor University. He is founder and co-owner of Insight Associates LLC which is designed for mental health counseling, consulting, and training. David contracts as a clinical mental health professional and serves African-American males with a goal of thwarting the impact of systematic oppression and increasing resiliency.