After a search lasting nearly seven months, ACLU Hawaii has finally chosen a new executive director. Vanessa Chong, who has run the office since 1984, is retiring next year. Her replacement, ACLU Hawaii officials announced on Dec. 13, is Joshua Wisch, currently a Special Assistant to Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin.
According to the ACLU Hawaii announcement, the position had more than a hundred applicants from all across the country. But in the end, they selected Wisch, whose most recent work as AG Special Assistant including acting as a spokesperson for the office (I have worked with him in this regard on a few occasions, and always found him competent and professional).
“Wisch, who has most recently served as Special Assistant to the Hawaii Attorney General, has over 15 years of cross-sector professional experience in Hawaii,” states ACLU Hawaii’s announcement. “Wisch’s management background in addition to his understanding of Hawaii, the legislative process and past experience leading political campaigns and issue advocacy is expected to significantly advance the ACLU’s agenda statewide. Wisch earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Carnegie Mellon University and his J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center.”
This is a critical time for civil liberties in the U.S., and the ACLU as a whole. In its Dec. 13 announcement, the organization said it’s “facing a barrage of challenges on multiple fronts including erosions to the rights of immigrants and LGBTQ individuals, attacks on reproductive health services for women and ensuring free speech and protest rights for all points of view. Additionally, the organization continues to press for much-needed reforms of the criminal justice system.”
For his part, Wisch said he’s “humbled” to be joining ACLU Hawaii.
“Vanessa Chong’s work for more than thirty years building the Hawaii affiliate and safeguarding our civil liberties has been extraordinary,” he said in the Dec. 13 announcement “Her legacy is an inspiration and I am grateful for all the support she, the Board, and staff have provided during this transition. I am proud to join a group of people dedicated to protecting the constitutional rights of everyone in our state, and assure you that my heart is in the work.”
Photo of Joshua Wisch courtesy ACLU Hawaii