Mother’s Day Spotlight: Meet Dr. Karen Todd
Posted: May 10, 2018
Mother’s Day Spotlight: Meet Dr. Karen Todd
Everyone’s mother is special in one way or another. From how they tucked us into bed to how a single kiss cured our boo-boos. Dr. Karen Todd not only kissed away her own children’s scrapes and bruises, she also helped heal thousands of other children of illness and ease the fears of worried parents. After working in private practice for more than two decades, Dr. Todd is now, as she likes to call, “casting her net” in her community and around the world. This mother’s day, hear her story.
Dr. Todd didn’t always want to be a doctor, at least not for humans. As a young girl she thought she wanted to be a veterinarian, because she loved animals and reading the book, “All Creatures Great and Small.” “I soon learned that small humans, like animals, needed great care and love, and they especially needed someone to advocate for them.”
After what probably felt like a lifetime of school, Dr. Todd started working at a pediatrician’s office in Cary, N.C. She also married her husband, Dan, a chemist and consultant in the pharmaceutical industry. They had two children, Emmalee and Daniel, who she says taught her the meaning of unconditional love. “No question that each phase of parenthood has been better than what came before it,” Dr. Todd said, “people asked me how I survived raising two teenagers ‘in this day and age’, but I’ve considered it my greatest joy to watch my kids grow and thrive and become wonderful young adults.”
For more than 22 years, Dr. Todd practiced at Cornerstone Pediatrics watching families welcome their firstborns, seeing them learn and grow together and, in some cases, witnessing those young patients grow up and start their own families. After more than two decades in private practice, Dr. Todd announced her retirement. “Some parents were tearful about my departure, saying that I had gotten them through sleepless nights and times of unbelievable worry,” Dr. Todd said, “what they don’t know is how much my life has been enriched by all of those relationships.”
A renewed passion
Her passion to help people and learn didn’t stop there. Dr. Todd is now a child medical examiner with Stop Abuse for Every Child, also known as SAFEchild, in Raleigh. It’s an advocacy center that works with families and children who may have experienced abuse or neglect. “I felt a calling to ‘cast my net’ a little further into the community, to address community health and population health needs, and to challenge myself with learning something new and different.”
She also works as a physician educator with UNC, instructing other physicians on the importance of the messages they give to patients and families when discussing immunizations. She’s not just at UNC to teach, Dr. Todd is learning too, studying to get her Masters of Public Health. “So much of what I was seeing in my exam rooms while practicing pediatrics had its roots in social or community disparities,” she said, “The practice of public health looks to address the inequities in our healthcare system, both locally, nationally, and globally.”
Connecting with Curamericas Global
It was within her Public Health Leadership Program where Dr. Todd met Andrew Herrera, the Executive Director of the Raleigh-based nonprofit, Curamericas Global. The organization is dedicated to saving the lives of women and children across the Carolinas and in forgotten communities around the world, like Guatemala, Haiti and Kenya. Dr. Todd had traveled to Guatemala twice on medical missions with her church. “That connection sparked my interest in Curamericas.”
Volunteering is a Passion
Dr. Todd is now on the Curamericas Global Advisory Board, learning about the organization and all of its successes in maternal and child health. The nonprofit’s work has helped reduce maternal and child mortality rates by 50 percent in Guatemala, Bolivia and Liberia. “I’m very much looking forward to taking a trip to witness their life-saving work in person.”
For Dr. Todd, volunteering is a passion. Experiences from her mission trips in Guatemala, like spending time in a Mayan village, living in a dirt hut and using an outside latrine have shaped her world-view in many ways. “Simple as it may sound, I am grateful for clean, running water and electricity,” Dr. Todd explained, “one understands how privileged our lives are here in the U.S.”
After decades of work, volunteering, teaching and family, Dr. Todd’s hope is that she can say she left this world better than she found it.
Cast your net this Mother’s Day and find your passion. Join us in our effort to save lives of women and children in forgotten communities. Take Action now.
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