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ACLU Hawaii selects new executive director

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COURTESY OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR / DEC. 2012

Joshua Wisch, currently special assistant to Hawaii Attorney General Douglas Chin, will take over the helm of the organization next month from long-time executive director Vanessa Chong, who is retiring.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii announced today that Joshua Wisch will take over the helm of the organization next month from long-time executive director Vanessa Chong, who is retiring.

Chong became the organization’s executive director in 1984 and first joined its staff in 1981.

Wisch, who serves as special assistant to Hawaii Attorney General Douglas Chin, was selected from more than 100 applicants nationwide. His last day with the Hawaii Attorney General’s office is Jan. 2.

The ACLU said 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 its 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.

The ACLU said the transition comes at a critical time as it faces 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 the need to ensure 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.

Wisch said he was humbled to be joining the ACLU of Hawaii at such an important time.

“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,” he said in a statement.”

The ACLU of Hawaii, an affiliate of the national organization, has more than 4,000 members and donors, a staff of seven and an annual budget of more than $1 million.

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