Gavin Thornton joined Hawai‘i Appleseed in 2012, and became Co-Executive Director in 2016, and Executive Director in 2019. Gavin began his career in the AmeriCorps program in Kona, Hawai‘i in 2002. Since that time, Gavin’s work has focused on trying to ensure that low-income people have the basic resources they need to build a safe, stable foundation for a successful life.
Gavin serves on the boards of the HMSA Foundation, PHOCUSED, and Partners in Care, where he chairs the advocacy committee. He has previously served on the Board of Directors of the Young Lawyers Division of the Hawai‘i State Bar Association, the Hawai‘i District Court Rules Committee, and the Board of TeamChild, an organization that assists youth at risk of involvement in the juvenile justice system. For his work in subsidized housing, Gavin was awarded the National Housing Law Project’s annual Housing Justice Award. He is a 2002 graduate of the University Of Virginia School Of Law.
Nicole Woo started her policy research and advocacy career in Washington, DC, focusing on workers’ rights at the Preamble Center for Public Policy and the Citizens’ Committee Against Sweatshops. She then served as the Associate Director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, where she directed research projects, provided technical assistance to emergency food programs, and advocated for policies to improve the lives of food-insecure New Yorkers.
Nicole moved back to Washington, DC, to work on national anti-hunger policies as a senior policy analyst at the Food Research and Action Center, specializing in childhood hunger and the national school meal programs. She then applied her expertise in an international context, serving as a Congressional Hunger Fellow in India, working with the largest school meal program in the world, the Akshaya Patra Foundation.
As the Director of Domestic Policy at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, back in Washington, DC, she covered a broad range of U.S. economic policy areas, including labor markets, financial reform, federal budgets, and social insurance. Nicole received her B.A. from Harvard University, where she concentrated in Government.
Daniela Kittinger is the director of a new project at Hawai‘i Appleseed aimed at strengthening community connections and building a broad coalition to address hunger in Hawai‘i. For the past 10 years, Daniela has been working on health issues and food system change in Hawai‘i. Most recently, she led the Department of Health’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) initiative. In this role, she identified levers for policy and systems change, directing the use of federal funds to build leadership and capacity in the areas of school wellness, early care and education, community food access, and the build environment.
After studying industrial and systems engineering at Virginia Tech, Eileen served as an AmeriCorps VISTA with Hawai‘i Appleseed to work on a project to facilitate the development of accessory dwelling units (ADUs). The ADU project aimed to combat the housing crisis by creating additional rental units. Now a member of Hawai’i Appleseed’s staff, Eileen is focused on fundraising and grants management.
Will was born and raised on Oʻahu and graduated from the University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa in 2012 with a BA in traditional art media and creative writing. He has eleven years of professional media experience, beginning with editorial positions at Ka Leo O Hawaiʻi, including two years as Editor-in-Chief. After graduating, he worked at the Honolulu Weekly editing the news section (“Honolulu Diaries”), as well as the Arts & Culture section. From 2013-2018 he worked as a journalist and editor for The Hawaii Independent, as well as for print quarterly Summit. He has also worked as a freelance media and communications consultant for various advocacy campaigns, and does freelance graphic design and illustration work for various clients. He holds a Hawaiʻi Publishers Association “Paʻi” award and an Associated Collegiate Press award.
Victor Geminiani began his legal services career as a VISTA Volunteer lawyer with the Atlanta Legal Aid Society. He has served as the Director of Litigation and Law Reform with Bedford-Stuyvesant Community Legal Services and as Executive Director of the Legal Services of Western Massachusetts, the Legal Services of Northern California, the Legal Aid Society of Hawai‘i, the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles and the Hawai‘i Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice. He has also worked in the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) as Associate Director of Support and Finances, responsible for LSC funding policy and as the Southeast Regional Director, overseeing the 75 legal services programs located in the 10 Southern states.
Victor has served in a variety of capacities with the boards of several of national associations including the executive committee of the National Legal Aid and Defenders Association, as founding board member and President of the Management Information Exchange and as a board member of the Litigation Section of the American Bar Association. He has also served a member of the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services and the ABA’s Standing Committee on Lawyers’ Public Service Responsibility, as Chairperson of the Litigation Section’s Pro Bono Committee and founder of the Section’s Legal Services Project. He has been recognized for his contributions to legal services delivery by being presented with the Reginald Heber Smith Award by National Legal Aid and Defender Association, John Minor Wisdom Award by the ABA’s Litigation Section, and the Champion of Social Justice Award by Hawai‘i State Bar Association.
Beth Giesting is the Director of Hawai‘i Appleseed’s new Hawai‘i Budget & Policy Center. She has a noteworthy background in health care delivery and policy, especially for underserved and low-income communities in Hawai‘i. She was most recently employed in the Governor’s Office to head up health care transformation efforts, focusing on behavioral health innovations. She was previously the CEO of the Hawai‘i Primary Care Association and Executive Director at Kalihi-Palama Health Center. Awareness of the fundamental connections between socio-economic conditions and health status led to her passionate interest in economic equity and opportunity and, hence, to her new role at HBPC.