Maui Business

ACLU of Hawaiʻi’s executive director leaving to lead new nonprofit

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The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawai‘i announced that executive director, Joshua Wisch is leaving in mid-May to lead a new nonprofit. PC: courtesy ACLU Hawaiʻi

After four and a half years as the Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawai‘i, Joshua Wisch has announced he will be leaving in mid-May to lead a new Hawaiʻi-based nonprofit organization.  

The ACLU of Hawai‘i reports that under Wisch’s leadership, the organization saw a significant increase in its presence throughout Hawai‘i while also doubling the size of its full-time staff, adding communications, development, field organizing, and policy positions that did not previously exist. 

During his tenure, the ACLU of Hawai‘i worked on an array of critical issues including policing reform, decriminalizing poverty, decarceration, abortion access, and education justice. This includes the recent decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to allow a class action case to proceed on behalf of female student athletes against the State Department of Education for Title IX violations at Campbell High School.

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ACLU of Hawai‘i Board President Marianita “Nita” Lopez said, “On behalf of the Board of Directors, we will miss Josh. He has expanded the capacity and reach of the ACLU in Hawai‘i, including assembling an incredible staff that is doing great work for the people of Hawai‘i every day. I believe that under Josh’s leadership, the ACLU of Hawai‘i has become a stronger and more effective advocate for the defense of civil liberties and civil rights across Hawai‘i.”

Deputy Executive Director Ryan Leong will serve as Interim Executive Director pending the appointment of a new Executive Director. Leong has been Deputy Executive Director of the organization since late 2020. Prior to that, he held leadership positions at the YMCA of Honolulu – Kalihi Branch for ten years, serving as Associate Executive Director for five of those years.

Outgoing ACLU of Hawai‘i Executive Director Joshua Wisch said, “It has been my privilege to serve alongside the brilliant and hardworking people that comprise the staff and board of the ACLU of Hawai‘i. Without them, as well as our passionate volunteers and supporters, none of what we do would be possible. I am proud of the tangible, positive changes we have made for the people of Hawai‘i and for the important discussions we have started on critical issues. I know the impactful work we do in the courts, the legislature, and in the community is in good hands with our extraordinary team.” 

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Wisch said he will be starting a position in early June as the President and Executive Director of Holomua Collective, a new nonprofit organization “advocating for government policies to improve the economic environment, enabling all Hawai‘i working families to thrive so they can realize a brighter future for themselves and their children in Hawai‘i.” This new organization reportedly envisions a diverse and sustainable Hawai‘i economy, an abundance of quality job opportunities, and improved affordability across Hawai‘i.

The ACLU of Hawai‘i will post a job announcement soon to solicit candidates to apply for the Executive Director position. The organization will conduct a nationwide search and expects the process to take several months.

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