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Judy A. Johnston, M.S., R.D., L.D.

Judy Johnston portrait
Research Instructor, Population Health

Professional Background

Judy is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian who practiced clinical and management dietetics in hospitals for over 18 years, including expertise as a Certified Diabetes Educator. She holds a BS in Dietetics and Institutional Management and a MS in Adult and Occupational Education from Kansas State University.

In 1989 Judy left dietetics practice to develop the Kansas LEAN (Leadership to Encourage Activity and Nutrition) initiative for KDHE, funded by the Kansas Health Foundation. In her nearly 10 years in that role, Judy recruited over 800 partners statewide and changed the approach the KDHE Bureau of Health Promotion uses to work with communities. The Kansas LEAN School Health Project was a forerunner to subsequent school-based interventions in Kansas and across the nation. Kansas was a leader in the Five a Day for Better Health initiative under Judy’s leadership at KDHE.

In 1999, Judy and co-PI Dr. David Dzewaltowski, Chair of Kinesiology at K-State, were awarded an R01 grant as part of the Behavior Change Consortium. The Healthy Youth Places intervention targeted increased fruit and vegetable consumption and physical activity through building the environmental change skills and efficacy of adults and youth.

In 2004, Judy joined the Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health faculty at KUSM-W as a Research Instructor. Her research is primarily community-engaged and includes community assessment and planning with a focus on rural and frontier communities, cancer survivorship, laity-led health ministry, oral health and health equity in cancer screening, treatment and survivorship.

Education and Training
  • BS, Dietetics & Institutional Management, Kansas St. U., Manhattan, KS
  • MS, Adult & Occupational Education, Kansas St. U., Manhattan, Kansas
Licensure, Accreditations & Certifications
  • Registered Dietitian, American Dietetics Association Commission on Dietetic Registration
  • Registered Dietitian, American Dietetics Association Commission on Dietetic Registration
Professional Affiliations
  • American Dietetic Association, ADA House of Delegates, Kansas Delegate to House of Delegates, 1975 - 1979



I have over 40 years of experience successfully designing and implementing health education/behavior change and policy/environmental change experiences for individuals and organizations in clinical and community settings. As a public health practitioner in the 1990s, I developed and managed the successful Kansas LEAN (Leadership to Encourage Activity and Nutrition) project that focused on place-based (school, child development, youth development, and senior living settings) interventions implemented by over 800 partners in communities across Kansas.

As a researcher and public health practitioner in an academic environment, I have been PI for three NIH-funded grants including an R01 award (HD37367) focused on increasing physical activity and fruit and vegetable opportunities in middle schools, an R21 (5R21HD064594-02) focused on understanding oral health and insurance needs of uninsured children, and a pilot study CTSA grant examining the oral health status of low-income seniors and the impact on health and quality of life. I have been the PI on numerous grant-funded intervention projects designed to influence physical activity behaviors and environments, including: Walkin’ Wichita, a built environment experiential learning project for youth; HEAL (Health Education and Leadership), a diet and physical activity behaviors, environmental, and policy change initiative in community mental health care settings; Clergy Self-Care, individual-level clergy health behavior and environment change throughout the national United Methodist Church; Healthy Congregations Initiative, a faith-based, comprehensive health ministry initiative in United Methodist Churches in Kansas and Nebraska; Kansas Survivor Care Quality Improvement (KSCQI) to identify and address needs of cancer survivors through surveys, focus groups, and interviews with oncologists, primary care physicians, and cancer survivors followed by education and advocacy efforts, and the Frontier/Rural Community Survey and Focus Groups Project, a community-engaged quality improvement project to assess perceived community health/wellness needs in frontier/rural counties of Kansas.

I have designed and conducted program evaluations in a variety of settings. In 2019-2020, I was part of a three-person team funded by the Kansas Governor's Grants Office that facilitated a comprehensive needs assessment and development of a statewide plan to apply for five Federal programs that serve crime victims. I have used my expertise in nutrition, physical activity, and teaching to assist numerous populations from young children through older adults to develop skills and modify their environments to make the healthy choice the easy choice.

Current Research and Grants
  • Development and facilitation of the Kansas United Methodist Churches Health and Wellness Planning Initiative: Healthy Congregations in Action , United Methodist Health Ministry Fund
  • Assessing health and wellness needs of rural counties, KDHE, Citizens Medical Center in Colby, & Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Kansas
  • EDW & Cancer Survivorship technical assistance & Training, KDHE
  • Klemp, Jennifer., R, Lowry, B., N, Johnston, Judy., A, Greiner, K., A. 2018. Delivery of survivorship care from rural primary care and oncology practices. Journal of Clinical Oncology
  • Johnston, Judy., A, Konda, Kurt, Ablah, Elizabeth. 2017. Building Capacity Among Laity: A Faith-Based Health Ministry Initiative. J Relig Health
  • Lindholm, Greg, Johnston, Judy., A, Dong, Frank, Moore, Kim, Ablah, Elizabeth. 2014. Clergy Wellness: An Assessment of Perceived Barriers to Achieving Healthier Lifestyles. Journal of Religion and Health
  • Dzewaltowski, David., A, Estabrooks, Paul., A, Welk, Gregory, Hill, Jennie, Milliken, George, Karteroliotis, K, Johnston, Judy., A. 2008. Healthy Youth Places: A Randomized Controlled Trial to Determine the Effectiveness of Facilitating Adult and Youth Leaders to Promote Physical Activity and Fruit and Vegetable Consumption in Middle Schools. Health Education Behavior, 36 (3), 583-600
  • Johnston, Judy., A, Jacobson, Lisette., T, Anderson, Benjamin. 2018. Community Health Improvement Research in a Rural Midwestern Region. Society of Behavioral Medicine Annual Meeting 2018
  • Jacobson, Lisette., T, Johnston, Judy., A, Anderson, Benjamin. 2019. Pioneer Baby: A Multifactorial Community Approach to Improve Health Outcomes Among Reproductive Age Women in a Midwestern State. Society of Behavioral Medicine Annual Meeting 2019
  • Ablah, Elizabeth, Dong, Frank, Cupertino, A., P, Konda, Kurt, Johnston, Judy., A, Collins, Tracie. 2013. Prevalence of diabetes and pre-diabetes in Kansas. Ethnicity & Disease, 23