Suzanne Bohan | An Island Press Author

Suzanne Bohan

Suzanne Bohan covered health and science for 12 years with the Bay Area News Group, a 650,000-circulation newspaper chain that includes the San Jose Mercury News, Contra Costa Times, and Oakland Tribune. She previously worked for the Sacramento Bee, and her writing has also been published in the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Miami Herald, San Francisco Chronicle, and other newspapers nationwide.

Bohan has won nearly 20 journalism awards, including the 2010 White House Correspondents' Association Edgar A. Poe Award for the series "Shortened Lives: Where You Live Matters" on why life expectancies vary so dramatically between nearby neighborhoods, and initiatives to shrink this unjust gap. Her earlier book, 50 Simple Ways to Live a Longer Life: Everyday Techniques From the Forefront of Science, won a National Health Information Award for health promotion/disease prevention.

Bohan has a master's degree in journalism from Stanford University and a bachelor's degree in biology from San Francisco State University. She interned at CNN and worked in radio but decided to focus her career on print media. She lives in Northern California with her husband.

Twenty Years of Life

In the book, Twenty Years of Life , author Suzanne Bohan explores the disturbing flip side of the “American dream”: your health is...

In the book, Twenty Years of Life , author Suzanne Bohan explores the disturbing flip side of the “American dream”: your health is largely determined by your zip code. The strain of living in a neighborhood with sub-par schools, lack of parks, fear of violence, few to no healthy food options, and the stress of unpaid bills is literally taking years off people’s lives. The difference in life expectancy between wealthy and distressed neighborhoods can be as much as twenty years.

In response to this inequity, The California Endowment, one of the nation’s largest health foundations is upending the old-school, top-down charity model and investing $1 billion over ten years to help communities advocate for their own interests. This new approach to community change draws on the latent political power of residents and is driving reform both locally and in the state’s legislative chambers. If it can work in fourteen of California’s most challenging and diverse communities, it has the potential to work anywhere in the country. 

The Aspen Institute’s Forum for Community Solution program hosted a discussion of how these communities are creating change and tackling health disparities. There are lessons for all stakeholders from policymakers, philanthropy, and community leaders to learn how investing in the power of communities can create smart solutions and positive change. 

Speakers include:
Suzanne Bohan, Author Twenty Years of Life 
Anthony Iton, Senior Vice President for Healthy Communities, The California Endowment
Sandra Celedon, Manager, the Fresno Building Healthy Communities Hub.  
Sam Vaughn, Program Manager, Richmond Office of Neighborhood Safety and the Peacemaker Fellowship