HSI Advisory Board
Steve has over 20 years of venture capital and fund management experience working in underserved capital markets. Today, he is focused on making venture and growth stage investments with an emphasis on agriculture and energy. Through the Kirchner Impact Foundation’s Food Fellowship (www.fundthefood.com) initiative and using elements of the traditional merchant banking approach, Steve is also experimenting with new, millennial-powered, low-cost, high-impact potential investment models that can cost-effectively push modest amounts of equity investment capital and business resources out to historically unservable regions.
Earlier in his career, Steve worked with Citibank, the Harbinger Group, as a Special Agent with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and as an Anglican Lay Minister in Newfoundland. Steve graduated from Harvard with BA in economics and religion, and from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with an MBA. He is a Director of the Hunger Solutions Institute, the Kirchner Impact Foundation, Enviva Biomass and Gridsmart.
Amir Dossal has been widely lauded for his 25-year career as a leader in the United Nations and is credited with pioneering the UN’s engagement with the private sector. He is an accomplished diplomat, with a deep understanding of global diplomacy as well as extensive experience in managing technical assistance projects in emerging markets.
Currently he is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Global Partnerships Forum – a not- for-profit knowledge platform to provide change-makers with tools to build innovative partnerships to address economic and social challenges – which he established in 2010. He is also Amir is co-founder of the Pearl Initiative , a CEO-led program promoting transparency and accountability in the Middle East, and the Ocean Sanctuary Alliance , a multi-stakeholder partnership to protect coastal and marine seas around the world. He is also a Commissioner of the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development . From 2010 to 2014, he served as Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union .
As Executive Director of the UN Office for Partnerships, which Amir established in 1998 to manage the $1 billion gift by media mogul Ted Turner, he forged numerous alliances with business and civil society, to address the UN’s global agenda. In 2005, Secretary-General Kofi Annan asked Amir to set-up and manage the UN Democracy Fund, whose core mission is to strengthen institutions around the world, and enhance democratic governance in new and restored democracies. In 2006, the Secretary-General tasked him to establish the Peacebuilding Support Office, which assists post-conflict countries in bridging the gap between peace, security and economic development.
In October 2010, Amir received the Humanitarian Award from the UN Association of New York , for his accomplishments in Partnerships to End Poverty and World Hunger. In December 2010, His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco appointed Amir as Ambassador for Peace and Sport . In February 2011, he was appointed Special Envoy to the World Youth Peace Summit. In 2015, Amir and his son, Zecki received the Humanitarian Innovation Award for intergenerational partnerships. In March 2016, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales bestowed Amir with their 2016 Outstanding Achievement Award , for his work in uniting public and private organizations to address the world’s economic and social challenges. Amir is married to Tas, and they have one son, Zecki.
Bob Gold, CEO of GoMo Health and Gold Enterprises, is one of the world’s leading behavioral technologists and a visionary entrepreneur with more than 20 years applied research and development in the growing field of digital to human persuasion and motivation. Bob applies his methodologies and techniques to help create a more sustainable healthcare infrastructure for hospitals, health systems, physician group practices, and insurers as more patients need to be treated and engaged within their day-to-day lifestyle. His Gold Enterprises has pioneered mobile technology applications using NASA astronaut behavioral user experience strategies and combined them with online experiences to generate pro-health behaviors in consumers.
Before founding Gold Mobile in 2008, Mr. Gold spent four years as CEO of a strategic marketing firm focused on the use of technology for marketing, CRM and loyalty programs. Prior to leading his marketing firm, Mr. Gold spent a decade as the President and co-founder of Starpoint Solutions. It was at Starpoint where he worked to innovate new web-based systems for the financial service industry, creating the first forever electronic 401k systems for Merrill Lynch, Prudential and others. As president, Mr. Gold grew the company organically into a business with $80 million in annual revenue. In 2002, he and his business partner sold the company to Goldman Sachs and other investors.
Outside of the office, Mr. Gold is an environmentalist. In the early 2000s, he helped save the town of Roosevelt, N.J., from developers by purchasing a 90-acre parcel of land, preserved it and launched one of the area’s first organic farms. In addition, he also sits on the Board of Trustees for the Asbury Musical Heritage Foundation.
Nicholas Haan, PhD has worked at the intersection of science, technology, social challenges, and innovation for the last 25 years. His issues of focus have included disaster relief, food security, environment, energy, public health, education, genetics, and information systems. His affiliations have included the United Nations, governments, universities, donor agencies and non-governmental organizations.
Mr. Haan is currently Director of Global Grand Challenges and Team Project Leader at Singularity University, a Silicon Valley educational institution whose mission is to educate, inspire and empower leaders to apply exponential technologies to address humanity’s grand challenges. His introduction to global perspectives began as a science teacher in a remote Kenyan village with the Peace Corps. This experience led to more than 20 years of living and working internationally, mainly in East and Southern Africa (including living four years in villages without running water or electricity, which gives him a unique perspective on social challenges).
Prior to joining Singularity University, Mr. Haan served as Senior Economist/Global Program Manager with the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization where he oversaw a food security project operating in over 30 countries. He is the creator of an international standard for classifying the severity of food insecurity and disasters – called the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification. Mr. Haan is also involved with several start-ups, including as strategic advisor to a mobile app company called eMobilis. He has a keen interest in the crowdsourcing movement and is on the regional board of directors for crowdfunder.com. He has been a visiting professor at University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and was awarded a NASA Research Fellowship.
Originally from California, Mr. Haan has a PhD in Geography, a master’s degree in International Development, a Master’s degree in Geographic Information Systems & Remote Sensing from Clark University, and a bachelor’s degree in Genetics from U.C. Berkeley. He is an avid sea kayaker and explorer, recently completing a 500 km expedition across Lake Victoria by kayak.
June Henton, PhD is Professor and Dean of the College of Human Sciences at Auburn University and Executive Director of the Hunger Solutions Institute. Since 1985, Dean Henton has provided leadership for teaching, research, and outreach programming in subject areas that include nutrition/dietetics, food/hunger, and wellness; sustainable human development; relationships and health; consumer behavior/technology and the science of design.
Her work has won national recognition. In 2012 she was awarded the Champion of Change for Food Security award from the White House, a prestigious honor that recognized a handful of individuals for their work in solving this critical problem. Dean Henton also won the Clover award from the US Green Building Council of Alabama for her innovative work in sustainability as well as the Public Service Award from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities’ Board on Human Sciences.
In 2004, under Dean Henton’s leadership, Auburn was invited to partner with the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) in a higher education war on hunger campaign. One of the most significant outcomes of the Auburn/WFP partnership has been the establishment of Universities Fighting World Hunger (UFWH), a student grassroots movement, founded by Dean Henton in 2006 at the inaugural University Hunger Summit sponsored by Auburn University. UFWH has nearly 300 participating college and university campuses around the globe. The Auburn University Board of Trustees approved the establishment of the Hunger Solutions Institute (HSI) in February 2012 and named Dr. Henton as its first Executive Director. HSI provides the infrastructure for UFWH and seeks to leverage the strengths of the public and private sectors to engage current and future generations in a sustainable approach to ending hunger.
Paula Hunker is the Chief Operating officer of Asia Society. Prior to assuming her current position, she served as director of Strategy and Policy for the Hunger Solutions Institute (HSI) at Auburn University from 2012-2017 where she served as primary liaison to international organizations such as the World Food Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization, as well as government agencies including the US State Department, Department of Agriculture, and the US Agency for International Development. As part of her HSI portfolio, Ms. Hunker provided leadership for Presidents United to Solve Hunger (PUSH), a global coalition of university presidents committed to prioritizing food and nutrition security as part of their institutional strategic plans and to working collectively to find innovative solutions to end hunger and malnutrition.
Before coming to Auburn, Ms. Hunker worked for WFP in Rome, serving as Chief of Executive Affairs for the former Executive Director of the World Food Programme. She focused on strategy, communication and outreach to build awareness for a number of strategic initiatives in areas such as nutrition, global food security and small farmer empowerment. Additionally, Ms. Hunker has served as Policy and Communications Director for the Rodale Institute, the world’s oldest sustainable agriculture non-profit and research organization, helping them reposition and rebrand the organization. She also held an appointment as Chief of Staff and Senior Strategy Advisor to the Under Secretary of Economics, Business and Agricultural Affairs at the US State Department. There she worked on a number of initiatives, including innovative work on a UN High Level Panel on UN Reform and Coherence and was the chief designer of the ONE UN pilot programs, bringing coherence and efficiency to UN country offices and laying the groundwork for what is now UN Women. She also helped to create the Global Partnership Initiative, a new office at the State Department designed to build and improve the effectiveness of multi-sector partnerships as a critical component of development and diplomacy. Ms. Hunker has also worked as a strategic business consultant, working with clients such as Rutgers University on a project to strengthen small family farmers and Oxfam America on a project to raise awareness for water poverty, a crippling cause of poverty and hunger.
Josette Sheeran is the seventh president and CEO of Asia Society, the leading educational organization dedicated to promoting mutual understanding and strengthening partnerships among peoples, leaders and institutions of Asia and the United States in a global context. Since June 2013, she has been responsible for leading and advancing the organization’s work throughout the U.S. and Asia, and across its disciplines of arts and culture, policy and business, and education.
Ms. Sheeran is former Vice Chair of the World Economic Forum, which hosts the annual Davos and Davos in China gathering of world leaders. In this position, she helped advance global initiatives and global, regional and industry agendas, such as Grow Africa, which has attracted $4 billion in investment commitments to end hunger and malnutrition in Africa. She recently served at the Harvard Kennedy School as a Fisher Fellow in the Future of Diplomacy.
Prior to her tenure at the World Economic Forum, Sheeran was executive director of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), appointed by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2006. There she was responsible for managing the world’s largest humanitarian organization, leading a team of 13,000 people in more than 70 countries, and managing an annual budget of more than $3 billion.
Under Ms. Sheeran’s leadership, WFP increased its donor base to more than 100 nations and became the first global institution to include the BRIC countries and the Gulf States among its top 10 donors. She put in place historic reforms of food aid, helping to end the cycle of hunger and malnutrition by purchasing nutritious food directly from developing world farmers. She also instituted emergency protocols that helped WFP improve its ability to save lives and livelihoods in disasters and emergencies, most notably in Pakistan, the Philippines, Afghanistan, Haiti and in the Horn of Africa.
Ms. Sheeran has held senior positions in the US government, conducting high-level diplomacy with virtually every nation in Asia. As US under Secretary of State for Economic, Business, and Agricultural Affairs, she led new State Department initiatives which supported economic transformation and reconstruction in Afghanistan and Central Asia and with APEC and ASEAN. Earlier she served for five years as deputy U.S. trade representative, conducting negotiations across Asia, including with China, Australia, Singapore, India, Korea, and Japan.
In 2011, Forbes named Ms. Sheeran the world’s 30th most powerful woman; Foreign Policy has listed her among its top 100 women on Twitter; and Ms. Sheeran’s TED Talk on ending world hunger has been viewed more than one million times. She is a member of the Council of Foreign Relations and has served on its Washington Advisory Board. She has received several honors for her leadership in the fight against hunger and malnutrition including: Japan’s Nigata International Food Award; Commandeur de l’Ordre du Mérite Agricole by the government of France; and Brazil’s highest civilian award, the Grand Official Order of the ‘Rio Branco,’ from President Lula Da Silva. Ms. Sheeran twice served as a Pulitzer Juror. She was honored by the Huffington Post with its “Game Changer” award in 2011, along with Liberian President Ellen Sirleaf Johnson and economist Esther Duflo.
Alastair Summerlee, PhD is a passionate humanitarian, a dedicated teacher, and an internationally renowned researcher who was appointed as the seventh president of the University of Guelph in 2003. Under his leadership, the University of Guelph has become preeminent among Canadian universities with a strong reputation for civic engagement and volunteerism. In receipt of a prestigious 3M teaching fellowship, the first president elect in North America to be awarded this honor, Dr. Summerlee has continued to teach undergraduate students, supervise graduate students and organize educational field trips for students.
His research in biomedical sciences is acclaimed internationally and he has attracted significant money to support his research, published extensively and been an invited lecturer at universities and colleges around the world. In 2004 Dr. Summerlee received the Doctor of Laws (Honoris causa) from the University of Bristol. He has garnered record levels of funding for research in the fields of relaxin, cancer biology, iron deficiency anemia in women and HIV/AIDS in aboriginal populations. Dr. Summerlee spent six years as the chair of the board of the World University Service of Canada (WUSC), one of the leading international development agencies in Canada and became involved in humanitarian issues in Africa, particularly in the refugee camps in Kenya, where he has been working for the last seven years.
In the fall of 2012, Dr. Summerlee received the “Award of Highest Honour” from Soka University in Japan, along with the 2012 International Quality of Life Award from Auburn University in the United States. He is currently serving as Chair of the Hunger Solutions Institute Advisory Board.
Roger Thurow joined the Chicago Council on Global Affairs as Senior Fellow on Global Agriculture and Food Policy, in January 2010, after three decades at The Wall Street Journal. For twenty years, he was a foreign correspondent based in Europe and Africa. His coverage of global affairs spanned the Cold War, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the release of Nelson Mandela, the end of apartheid, the wars in the former Yugoslavia, and the humanitarian crises of the first decade of this century, as well as 10 Olympic Games.
In 2003, he and Journal colleague Scott Kilman wrote a series of stories on famine in Africa that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in International Reporting. Their reporting on humanitarian and development issues was also honored by the United Nations. Mr. Thurow and Mr. Kilman are authors of the recent book ENOUGH: Why the World’s Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty. In 2009, they were awarded Action Against Hunger’s Humanitarian Award. Mr. Thurow’s most recent book, The Last Hunger Season: A Year in an African Farm Community on the Brink of Change, was published in May 2012.
Roger Thurow graduated from the University of Iowa. He lives in the DC area with his wife Anne, and their two children, Brian and Aishling.
Jimmy Wright, owner of the independent grocery store Wright’s Market in Opelika, Alabama, learned the ins and outs of the grocery business at an early age, beginning to work at the family store when he was 12. Jimmy took over the store from his dad in 1997. Jimmy calls his approach “high tech, high touch,” a philosophy that informs his mission as an independent grocer: “We want to feed families and we want to nourish them physically, but we also want to nourish them emotionally.”
Jimmy is active in his community. He is on the board for the Food Bank of East Alabama and he is on the board of directors for the Alabama Grocers Association and the National Grocers Association. He has also won numerous awards for his community service including the MLK Dream award and the Spirit of Opelika award. He has also won several awards on behalf of his business, including the US Chamber Blue Ribbon award in 2014 and 2016, and the Opelika Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year award in 2017.