Kerry Hawk Lessard (Shawnee) is an applied medical anthropologist working in the area of Urban American Indian Health. While an undergraduate at Florida Atlantic University, Kerry completed fieldwork with HIV+ Haitian immigrants living in South Florida. It was in the course of this work that she became aware of the importance of culture, both in the ways it shapes our understanding of health and wellness, but also how these deeply held beliefs impact decision making and behavior.
She is currently employed as the Executive Director of Native American Lifelines.
At Native American Lifelines, an Urban Indian Health Program in Baltimore City, Kerry leads a team of dedicated individuals who are committed to improving the lives of its constituents. This commitment is nowhere stronger than in their efforts to educate, support, empower, and protect Native youth. Applying decolonization theory and engaging culturally informed practices such as talking circles, traditional arts, and indigenous foodways, Native American Lifelines seeks always to honor and strengthen cultural identity, thereby building resiliency and creating opportunities for better health outcomes. Kerry’s vision remains guided by words attributed to Tecumseh, a great leader from her tribe: “A single twig breaks, but the bundle of twigs is strong.” Above all else, it is Lifelines’ desire to grow a strong bundle.