Dr. Kristina Wallengren - founder of THINK (NGO)
Kristina Wallengren, the founder of THINK (NGO) is a True HERO.
Do you want to hear why❤️?
Kristina has built up THINK from scratch only to help the people who really need our help. She is an extreme fighter and with a strong mission and purpose in life. We admire people like Kristina Wallengren. The world need more heroes like her.
This is her amazing story:
Growing up my dreams and aspirations were shaped by a unique blend of cultures and experiences. Born in Stockholm, my family moved to Argentina when I was just a year old, followed by stints in Mexico, Spain, and Saudi Arabia (total 7 years) thanks to my father’s work as a civil engineer. These diverse environments not only allowed me to become fluent in English, Spanish, and Swedish but also exposed me to the vast inequalities that exist in our world.
After completing my PhD in epidemiology at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, I took a gap year and sailed across the Pacific Ocean for 1.5 years, or 15,000 nautical miles. I started off by hitchhiking on boats from Panama to New Zealand, traversing remote islands and experiencing diverse cultures in the company of cruisers and people sailing around the world. In New Zealand, I got a job to sail an 80 ft yacht to Alaska. I can tell you a million and one stories of my adventures from hunting for hidden caves following Thor Heyerdahl’s books, scuba diving in pristine (but shark-infested) waters, discovering old ruins and temples, calving glaciers and black bears watching us from the shore.
This incredible journey not only offered me a chance for introspection but also reinforced the importance of collaboration and problem-solving, as our lives depended on each other in the close quarters of a sailing boat.
After my sailing adventure, I pursued my postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University from 2005 to 2007, where I delved deeper into the world of epidemiology. It was during this time that I first was introduced to tuberculosis (TB), a disease that my grandmother also suffered in Sweden in the 1940s, and survived thanks to being treated with the first drugs developed for TB. Tuberculosis has been my area of expertise for over two decades and I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute on various global platforms to end TB. For example, I served as a Technical Advisor for the World Health Organization (WHO), conducting a situational analysis which brought extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) into the global spotlight for the first time, but more importantly uncovered the enormous burden of drug-resistant TB and unmatched need for treatment. This led South Africa and the WHO to revise the standard of care and international guidelines to recommend decentralized patient-centered care to increase access and availability to treatment.
As an epidemiologist, I have also had the privilege of conducting assessments in numerous countries, including Tanzania, Bhutan, East Timor, Thailand, and Lesotho. Each of these experiences has enriched my understanding of public health challenges and the strategies needed to overcome them.
After several years of serving in various roles, including as a Lead Consultant and Clinical Advisor from 2010 to 2012, I worked for the TB Focal Point from 2014 to 2018. It was during this time that I started THINK, a non-profit organization focused on promoting innovation in global health. I founded THINK in 2013, while I was a divorced mother of two young children living in South Africa, where I was working to combat the TB epidemic. Balancing my responsibilities as a parent with my passion for global health was not easy, but my experiences as a sailor and epidemiologist had taught me the importance of resilience and determination in the face of adversity.
Today, as CEO of THINK, I continue to advocate for innovative solutions to the world's most pressing health challenges. My journey from global nomad to visionary changemaker has been shaped by my experiences, my passion, and my unwavering dedication to creating a better world.