Kristine Pearson's humanitarian leadership is having a profound impact on the world. A Californian who immigrated to South Africa twenty-five years ago, Kristine considers herself to be a true "African-American." Her passion for the continent, the huge potential of its people and her conviction that with information and education Africans will be empowered to build a better future for themselves and their children, are her continued motivation.
Throughout Africa, Kristine was moved by the strength and struggles of people living with illness, poverty, and political instability. She realized that one of their greatest needs was to be connected to education and practical information. Valuable radio programs covering health, business, politics, current events and classroom lessons were available, but the batteries to run radios are expensive, and electrification reaches only ten percent of sub-Saharan Africa, rendering the devices useless. After meeting countless Rwandan children orphaned by AIDS or genocide, bearing burdens far beyond their years, she was inspired to develop a radio especially to help connect these children to news and on-air classroom lessons. The Lifeline radio was launched in April 2001 and was awarded the first Tech Museum of Innovation Award later that year, in the education category.
Kristine's sweeping strategic vision led to a broadening of the organization’s mission as it began to focus on the larger issue of energy poverty. Today, the non-profit Lifeline Energy -- formerly known as the Freeplay Foundation – owns the for-profit company, Lifeline Technology Trading. Lifeline Technology Trading designs, develops and manufactures the solar-powered and wind-up media players, radios and lights that Lifeline Energy distributes in support of the critically poor and vulnerable. Since 1999, the non-profit, under Kristine’s direction, has distributed more than 500,000 self-powering radios, reaching almost 20 million listeners. Lifeline Energy operates primarily in sub-Saharan Africa and works across numerous disciplines, including health, education, agriculture, peacemaking, emergency relief, economic empowerment and the environment. Kristine’s latest innovation, the Lifeplayer, was a finalist in the global 2011 INDEX: Design to Improve Life awards. This revolutionary tool bridges Internet, cellular, media player and radio technologies, by combining an MP3, live recorder, 5-band radio and cell phone charger into one solar-powered and wind-up unit.
Kristine Pearson’s innovative work with the Lifeline radio led to her being honored with the James C. Morgan Global Humanitarian Award in 2005. In 2007, TIME magazine named her as a Hero of the Environment. She is a fellow of the Schwab Foundation for Outstanding Social Entrepreneurship and serves on the Global Agenda Council’s New Energy Architecture Committee, both of the World Economic Forum. Kristine also serves on the Women’s Leadership Board of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, the UN Foundation’s Sustainable Energy Practitioner Network and the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves. In 2004, she became a lifetime fellow of the World Technology Network.
Kristine is committed to retaining Lifeline Energy’s focus on the needs of the poorest of the poor, especially women, girls and orphaned children, and remaining ready to address the problems of vulnerable groups anywhere.