Rural Leadership, Rural Health: What We're Learning

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Investing in rural leadership is key to resolving complex health issues and advancing health equity.

To ensure that everyone in America has what they need to achieve the best possible health and well-being, we need leaders from all kinds of communities. Only through leadership that reflects the full diversity of our country, including rural areas, can we ensure that our perspectives are inclusive and our approaches relevant.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) is learning from and investing in leaders from rural communities in every corner of the country, from Hawaii to Puerto Rico; from tribal reservations to towns with new immigrant populations; from Alaska to the Mississippi Delta.

Why Rural Leadership is a Priority for RWJF

  • Rural leaders are taking on—and finding innovative solutions for—some of our country’s most significant challenges including the opioid crisis, health care shortages, and the impact of economic shifts.
  • The best rural leadership comes from within rural communities, yet rural leaders can feel isolated. Leaders need access to networks, but most leadership development programs are accessible mainly in urban areas.
  • Conversations about health equity have to include rural health as a factor in addition to economic status, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, and others.

RWJF Programs and Initiatives on Rural Leadership

Leadership Development—To learn more about leaders serving rural populations, please visit these leadership program web pages and sort by topic or theme:

National Rural Assembly—RWJF supports this network’s effort to build rural leadership capacity, and draw greater national attention to rural people and places.

For more information about RWJF’s rural leadership work, including preliminary insights and examples of leaders who are tackling key issues, please download our fact sheet.

Rural Health in America

A collection of resources focusing on our nation’s rural health challenges and helping rural communities achieve better health for all.

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Learn More About Our Work

Achieving Health Equity