Thursday, April 18, 2024 - Thursday, April 25, 2024

Funding for the Major Projects Award provided by the generous support of the Stanley-University of Iowa Foundation Support Organization and UI International Programs (IP).

The Major Project, Sacred Threads: Spirituality, Health, and Collaborative Partnerships for Health in Indigenous Communities, brings to campus Lorenzo Sanford, the youngest elected chief in the history of the Kalinago people in Dominica for a series of events in late April. As the last community in the Caribbean claiming direct descent from the indigenous Kalinago, this event series discusses spirituality and healing and the preservation and revitalization of the rich cultural heritage of this ancient tribe.

This Major Project provides a unique platform to celebrate Indigenous leadership; discuss spirituality, healing, and cultural preservation; and strategize for community-based health solutions that foster equity and well-being. Join us in embracing the spirit of collaboration and empowerment as we work towards a healthier and more equitable future for the Kalinago Tribe and beyond.

Please RSVP here

Public Events

Chief Lorenzo Sanford will be on campus for one week, engaging with UI students, faculty, staff, and the greater Iowa City community. Events open to the public include:

Healing Horizons: A Journey into Indigenous Spirituality, Culture, and Global Well-being

Thursday, April 18, 2024, at 12 - 1 p.m.
Location: International Commons, room 1117, University Capitol Centre

Featured speakers:

  • Jeanine Abrons, clinical associate professor, UI College of Pharmacy
  • Kashelle Lockman, associate professor of instruction, UI College of Pharmacy
  • Lorenzo Sanford, chief of the Kalinago indigenous tribe in Dominica

The first talk in the series will delve into Indigenous healing processes that emphasize interconnectedness. Sessions will explore the compatibility of individuals with others, the spiritual world, and the social structure. The holistic approach to health will be highlighted, showcasing how Indigenous health interventions address individual care and encompass activities aimed at restoring social and spiritual balance.

Roots of Resilience: Preserving Cultures, Languages, and Health

Tuesday, April 23, 2024, at 12 - 1 p.m.
Location: International Commons, room 1117, University Capitol Centre

Featured speakers:

  • Jeanine Abrons, clinical associate professor, UI College of Pharmacy
  • Laura Ell, general manager, Jungle Bay in Dominica
  • Claire Frances, director, UI Center for Language and Culture Learning 
  • Lorenzo Sanford, chief of the Kalinago indigenous tribe in Dominica

The second talk in the series will explore various facets of cultural preservation, including discussing language revitalization efforts of the Kalinago language and strategies to ensure its survival and transmission to future generations.

Innovative Alliances: Rethinking Global Health and Sustainability through Unconventional Partnerships

Thursday, April 25, 2024, at 12:15 - 1:45 p.m.
Location: College of Pharmacy Building, room 110 A&B

Featured speakers:

  • Ken Brown, Tippie Children Professor of Management, UI Tippie College of Business
  • Deb Dunkhase, adjunct instructor, UI Tippie College of Business
  • Laura Ell, general manager, Jungle Bay in Dominica
  • Jake Kundert; PhD candidate; Department of Soil, Water, and Climate; University of Minnesota
  • Steve Shriver, CEO, Eco-Lips

The summit will conclude with an insightful panel discussion on forging partnerships for community-based solutions to advance health equity. The shared vision and values of the community will be emphasized, empowering individuals to shape outcomes actively. The importance of diverse collaboration will be underscored, including collaborations with public health agencies, community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, and businesses.

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Lorenzo Sanford

In 2019, Lorenzo Sanford was elected as the youngest chief in the history of the Kalinago people in Dominica. At the time of his election, he was 22 years old. Currently, 27-year-old Sanford understands the weight of his responsibility. His decision to run for chief came the morning after a catastrophic Category 5 hurricane in Dominica in September 2017, and his people were among the most impacted by the storm. As Chief of the Kalinago people and leader of the Kalinago Council, Sanford is responsible for the 3,000-acre Kalinago territory along the island’s northeast coast, directly facing the Atlantic Ocean and equatorial trade winds in Dominica. Over the six years since the hurricane, the country and the Kalinago people have focused on rebuilding infrastructure with a focus on sustainability and climate resiliency. Chief Sanford and his tribe understand the interconnected nature of the planet, and his people view themselves as guardians of cultural heritage and their environment while facing constant threats of climate change. Chief Sanford has led the Kalinago people through numerous collaborations with organizations such as the World Bank, the United Nations Development Program, and the India-UN Cooperation. His efforts amplify the voices of youth and cultural preservation, seeing renewed efforts related to traditional healing, spirituality, language preservation, empowerment, innovation, and entrepreneurship. He is quoted as saying, “the most profitable future for our communities is to develop a diverse set of activities based on farming, tourism, traditional crafts, and community-based natural resource management." Recently, he has continued his development as a Chief through the U.S. Department of State's Internal Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP).

Organizer & recipient of Major Project Award

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Jeanine Abrons

Dr. Jeanine Abrons attended pharmacy school at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, graduating in 2004. She then pursued and completed a Masters of Science in social and administrative pharmacy at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. Her first teaching experience was at Albany College of Pharmacy where she taught and coordinated a pharmacotherapy and medicinal chemistry course focused on cardiology and internal medicine, created and ran an internal medicine rotation, served on numerous committees, and became more involved with research/publishing and editing. Abrons' practice and research focus centers on global health and underserved populations. She has developed and coordinated an international experience in rural and natural medicine in Dominica, West Indies, and currently trains students on providing preventative health service screenings to underserved patient populations. Abrons is currently working on developing innovations to assist with screening provision and documentation. She is active with the national American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) global special interest group. She is the director of student pharmacists international activities for the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy. She holds editing positions with the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association, Currents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning, and Pulses. She is the editor for the University of Iowa Teaching Cases and Active Learning Exercises. She is author/editor to the Pharmacists Peripheral Brain.

About Major Projects

Through the generous support of the Stanley-UI Foundation Support Organization, International Programs' Major Projects Award promotes important contributions to scholarly debates and exchanges on international topics, issues, discoveries, and arts.

International Programs' Major Projects encourage activities or endeavors on a broader scale. These may take the form of collaborations, symposia, conferences, lecture series, artistic exhibitions, and performance events.

All events are free and open to the public.



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Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Daniel Vorwerk in advance by email at or call 319-467-1619.