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Donawa Recognized For Visionary Leadership


Dave Dillon Crop LR

Dave Dillon

Vice President of Public and Media Relations



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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Niki Lee Donawa, Chief Community Relations Officer at University Health in Kansas City, Mo., has been honored with the Missouri Hospital Association’s Visionary Leadership Award. Donawa was recognized for her efforts to improve the health of Kansas City through community partnerships. The award was presented Nov. 2 at MHA’s 101st Annual Convention in St. Louis.

“The connections Niki maintains within the Kansas City area are essential to University Health’s efforts to deliver health and care,” said Jon D. Doolittle, MHA President and CEO. “Health begins in the community, and her involvement helps the health system identify opportunities and deliver resources where they can make the most difference. She builds the trust necessary to make health improvement possible.

“In addition to her work in the Kansas City metro area, her vision for better health is felt statewide through her service on the MHA Health Equity Committee.”

Niki Lee Donawa, Chief Community Relations Officer at University Health in Kansas City, Mo., receives MHA's Visionary Leadership Award

Donawa leads the University Health Kansas City Community Health Strategies & Innovation team, a culturally diverse and multilingual group of individuals who are focused on listening and responding to the community and identifying appropriate programs to improve health equity. Her team directs the Healthy Harvest Mobile Market, a mobile resource that delivers healthy foods into underserved food deserts through a “food as medicine” approach. The mobile market includes a nutrition educator who provides information and recipes that are culturally tailored to each participant.

Throughout the pandemic, Donawa’s leadership and strong connections within the community helped bridge cultural gaps by extending education and partnering to deliver vaccines into at-risk communities. The CHSI team created COVID-19 prevention and treatment education in simple terms and multiple languages, actively engaging individuals in Kansas City’s hardest hit neighborhoods to offer COVID-19 education, testing and eventually the vaccine.

Donawa joined University Health in 2010. She serves on numerous civic boards, including as a member of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and the Women’s Executive Leadership Council of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. She has served in various roles on the Health Forward Community Advisory Council, most recently as the chair, and as a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives.

Donawa earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, Mo., and a master’s degree in business administration from Baker University in Baldwin City, Kan.

A video honoring Donawa is available here.

Photo Caption: Rich Liekweg, President and CEO of BJC HealthCare in St. Louis and MHA Board Chair, presents Niki Lee Donawa MHA’s Visionary Leadership Award.


The Missouri Hospital Association is a not-for-profit association in Jefferson City that represents 140 Missouri hospitals. In addition to representation and advocacy on behalf of its membership, the association offers continuing education programs on current health care topics and seeks to educate the public about health care issues.

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