HSI Administrative Team
June Henton, PhD is Professor and Dean of the College of Human Sciences at Auburn University. Since 1985, Dean Henton has provided leadership for teaching, research, and outreach programming in subject areas that include nutrition/dietetics; food/ hunger, nutrition, and wellness; sustainable human development; relationships and health; consumer behavior/technology; and the science of design. In 2004, under Dean Henton’s leadership, Auburn was invited to partner with the UN World Food Programme (WFP) in a higher education war on hunger campaign. One of the most significant outcomes of this partnership has been the establishment of Universities Fighting World Hunger (UFWH) which was founded by Dean Henton in 2006 at the inaugural University Hunger Summit sponsored by Auburn University.
Building on Dr. Henton’s record of successful partnership activities with WFP and her role as founder of UFWH, 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. The 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. Recently, Dean Henton was honored by the White House as a Champion of Change for her work in food security, and in 2012 she was presented with the US Green Building Council of Alabama Award for her leadership in sustainability. Moreover, Dr. Henton received the 2012 Ellen Swallow Richards Public Service Award for her efforts in the fight against domestic and global hunger which was presented by the Board on Human Sciences of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.
Dr. Henton earned her B.S. from Oklahoma State University, her Masters degree from the University of Nebraska, and her PhD from the University of Minnesota. She was also conferred the Doctor of Laws degree, honoris causa by the University of Guelph for her “drive to foster an international effort to create a more sustainable world, free of hunger and full of an active youth”.
Harriet W. Giles, PhD serves a dual role as managing director of the Auburn University Hunger Solutions Institute (HSI) and as director of external relations for the Auburn University College of Human Sciences (CHS). In her external relations role, she is chief communications liaison for the College and provides leadership for a range of CHS outreach and programmatic initiatives, including the International Quality of Life Awards held annually at the United Nations.
As managing director of the Hunger Solutions Institute, Dr. Giles oversees all of the programmatic and grassroots initiatives for the Auburn War on Hunger, a unique partnership with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) that began in 2004; provides leadership and coordinates programmatic efforts for Universities Fighting World Hunger (UFWH), a network of approximately 300 higher education institutions worldwide that she co-founded with CHS dean June Henton of Auburn University in 2006; and works with the executive director and the director of strategy and policy of the Hunger Solutions Institute to build key public and private partnerships that will leverage the necessary resources required for the HSI to meet its strategic goals and to achieve global prominence. Among other responsibilities, she is currently giving leadership to End Child Hunger in Alabama, a seven year campaign launched in 2012 as the first outreach initiative of the HSI.
Prior to assuming her current administrative positions within the College of Human Sciences and the HSI, Dr. Giles was a faculty member in the Auburn University Department of Human Development and Family Studies for 18 years. While in the department, she served as internship director and taught a range of courses that included child development theory, lifespan human development, hospitalized children and families, and professional development. She has conducted research and is published in the areas of mentoring and career development, child abuse, and hospitalization of children.
Dr. Giles began her professional career as an early childhood educator in the Alabama public school system in 1972. She was named a Rotary International Graduate Fellow in 1977, spending an academic year in London, England studying the British infant school educational model. She holds a B.S. in Early Childhood Education and an M.S. in Family and Child Development from Auburn University and a Ph.D. in Child and Family Development from the University of Georgia. Dr. Giles was named Outstanding Faculty in the College of Human Sciences in 1987 and was the recipient of the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award (non-student) in 2013, the highest humanitarian recognition bestowed by Auburn University.
Paula Hunker is the Director of Strategy and Policy for the Hunger Solutions Institute at Auburn University. She was posted to Auburn University by WFP to serve as a Senior Policy Advisor, representing the United Nation’s World Food Programme in their joint fight against hunger. She works closely with Dean June Henton and her team in supporting Universities Fighting World Hunger (UFWH) and also building the Hunger Solutions Institute as a global knowledge portal to highlight lessons learned and innovative solutions that can be used to fight hunger at home and abroad.
Prior to her recent posting at Auburn, Ms. Hunker was working 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. Prior to WFP, Ms. Hunker was 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 worked at the US State Department, serving as Chief of Staff and Senior Strategy Advisor to the Under Secretary of Economics, Business and Agricultural Affairs. 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, which has brought coherence and efficiency to UN country offices and also recommended consolidating the UN’s gender work, which resulted in what is now UN Women. She also helped to create the Global Partnership Initiative, a new office at the State Department to build and improve the effectiveness of multi-sector partnerships as a critical component of development and diplomacy. 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.
Kara Newby is the Hunger Program and Resource Coordinator and the Instructor for the introduction class for Hunger Studies, Hunger: Causes, Consequences and Responses. She has a Masters in Human Development and Family Studies and worked for several years in the non-profit sector and five years as the Program Manager for Family Science with Ohio State University Extension.
Kate Thornton, Ph.D. currently serves as the Director of Hunger and Sustainability Initiatives at the Hunger Solutions Institute and the Director of Global Education in the College of Human Sciences at Auburn University. She has a varied background ranging from business to biochemistry and is interested in utilizing her diverse knowledge base to bring sustainable solutions to help solve the major global challenges facing the world today. She is passionate about connecting students with scholars and mentors across a spectrum of fields to create an environment where students are empowered to create solutions for the future. Thornton earned her Ph.D., as well as an MBA and an MS in Consumer Affairs from Auburn University.
Kate also holds a BS in Biochemistry and a BFA in Painting from Clemson University, where she achieved many academic accolades, including being named a Rhodes and Marshall Scholar finalist and Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award recipient. Her interest and commitment to solving problems of hunger and poverty stemmed from adopting her children from Ethiopia. Both of her boys were orphaned because of extreme hunger and poverty and while thankful for their place in her family, Thornton has committed her life’s work to eradicating hunger and poverty around the world so that other birth families will not have to relinquish their children for these reasons. Prior to her work in higher education, Thornton worked as a defense contractor in Washington, DC.