Current Leader

Jitana Benton-Lee

Jitana Benton-Lee
Location: Lexington, Kentucky Cohort Start Year: 2020 Project Topics: Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Health Care Access, Nurses and Nursing, Public, Population and Community Health, Racial Justice Populations Served: Adults (21-64 years), African-American/Black, At-Risk/Vulnerable Populations, Older Adults (65+), Rural Communities
Assistant Professor
Northern Kentucky University

There is a strong relationship between healthcare provider bias and the systemic barriers in health for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, often related to racism, that leads to health inequities. Jitana strives to ensure healthcare providers become consciously aware of their prejudice and adapt their care to meet the needs of the culturally diverse people they are serving, which she views as an integral step towards health equity. Her worldview is shaped by a deep-seated desire to ensure the greater good of all humanity through the performance management of healthcare systems and to ensure providers meet healthcare inclusivity measures for equitable care. Healthcare’s ability to establish culturally safe spaces for individuals can either aid or hinder individuals’ progress in addressing their healthcare concerns. Ultimately, Jitana cross-sector collaborates to prepare healthcare providers and systems to recognize and correct prejudice, bias, and other discriminatory practices.

The motivating factor for Jitana centers around her understanding of how a provider’s ability to adjust to cultural differences can enhance the relationship with diverse patient populations and, quite possibly, impact their health outcome favorably. Jitana believes a shift from cultural competence to ongoing intercultural development is necessary to ensure healthcare providers’ and systems’ clinical appropriateness to meet the unique needs of culturally diverse populations. Intercultural development demonstrates a perpetual commitment to learning about, communicating with, and developing relations across cultures – an essential skill for social interactions within healthcare. By working directly with health science colleges, healthcare systems, and individual providers, Jitana collaborates and equips current and future healthcare providers with intercultural skills, interventions, and other competencies necessary for achieving a respectful way to communicate cultural ideas and behaviors in the healthcare setting.


Jitana grew up in a small rural Kentucky town where health disparities are significant. She witnessed loved ones succumb to chronic disease, amputations, even fatalities resulting from preventable illness. All of this, coupled with her own visual and hearing impairments, she opted for a healthcare career as a nurse, intending to make a difference in the health outcomes in her community. Jitana gleans knowledge on creating inclusive healthcare practices and environments, honed through her work with underrepresented patient populations, including rural African Americans, migrant farmworkers, Appalachian Americans, LGBTQ+, and the deaf and hearing-impaired community. She gives credence to the importance of human social relationships’ influence on population health and how everyone wants to feel valued and heard. Therefore, she participates in community-focused health research and advocacy. And as an interculturalist, she facilitates system-level training on provider intercultural development, health equity, healthcare diversity and inclusivity, and racial trauma.





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