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Dr. Jitana Benton-Lee Earns Prestigious
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation


Nov. 30, 2020 —  Northern Kentucky University's Dr. Jitana Benton-Lee receives a prestigious Culture of Health Leaders fellowship from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RJWF). She becomes the first faculty member in NKU's history awarded with the honor.

Dr. Benton-Lee, an associate professor in NKU's Doctor of Nursing Practice and Master of Science in Nursing programs, receives the fellowship and $95,000 in funding to support her project focused on improving health care perceptions and initiatives for rural minorities in Kentucky. Throughout the three-year program, she will develop inclusive health care promotion and practices to educate communities on the health risk factors they face, such as diabetes and heart disease.

Dr. Jitana Benton-Lee

Dr. Jitana Benton-Lee 

"Kentucky ranks as the worst state in preventable hospitalizations. When you drill deeper into these unchallenged health disparities, studies indicate rural minorities lag even further," said Dr. Benton-Lee. "These are often overlooked. This opportunity allows me to focus on my passions for community-based health promotion and prevention."

Dr. Benton-Lee joins a diverse group of 40 national leaders working towards more just and equitable communities. The RJWF's executive leadership training and resources will also help her develop more inclusive health care education and create a health care inclusivity micro-credential in the university's College of Health & Human Services.

"With more diverse people making the United States home, understanding a patient's needs and culture is becoming a hurdle. Intercultural development is not something you always see in education," said Dr. Benton-Lee. "This evolution has left many health professionals feeling underprepared. My goal is to ensure students learn about and activate equitable health environments."

An advocate for understanding the cultural aspects of health, Dr. Benton-Lee has received numerous accolades for her publications on patient-driven inclusive health care. Dr. Benton-Lee has also received recognition for her community impact, including the Emerging Nurse Leader from the Kentucky Organization of Nurse Leaders.

Dr. Benton-Lee earned her Doctor of Nursing Practice and B.S. from NKU, her Master of Science in Nursing/Master of Health Administration from the University of Phoenix, her MBA from Sullivan University and her B.S. in Nursing from Eastern Kentucky University.

To learn more about NKU’s College of Health and Human Services, visit its website.


About NKU: Founded in 1968, we are a growing metropolitan university of more than 15,000 students served by more than 2,000 faculty and staff on a thriving suburban campus near Cincinnati. Located in the quiet suburb of Highland Heights, Kentucky—just seven miles southeast of Cincinnati—we have become a leader in Greater Cincinnati and Kentucky by providing a private school education for a fraction of the cost. While we are one of the fastest growing universities in Kentucky, our professors still know our students' names. For more information, visit