Victor Geminiani announced Wednesday that he plans to retire, ending a half-century of legal aid and advocacy work on behalf of low-income Hawaii residents, most recently through his role as the co-founder and executive director of Hawaii Appleseed Center.

Geminiani will be succeeded by Gavin Thornton as Hawaii Appleseed Center’s executive director upon his retirement effective Aug. 31.

During his years with Hawaii Appleseed Center, Geminiani led the nonprofit, public interest law firm and policy organization through a series of victories, successfully petitioning a federal court to prohibit the state from canceling essential medical services to Micronesians residing in Hawaii, winning multimillion dollar settlements on behalf of tenants whose rents had been unfairly inflated and bringing lawsuits to compel the state to correct deplorable living conditions in some of Hawaii’s oldest and largest public housing projects.

Newspaper clippings document Geminiani’s career-long involvement in social causes. PF Bentley/Civil Beat

In 2019, Geminiani led the revival of Lawyers for Equal Justice, establishing a litigation-focused project within Hawaii Appleseed Center and hiring Thomas Helper as the project’s litigation director.

LEJ is currently litigating a case to preserve the affordability of 142 units in the Front Street Apartments complex on Maui, as well as a case aimed at ensuring Hawaii’s youth receive appropriate mental health services.

“I was fortunate early in my career to find a meaningful way to use my law degree to support my passion for fair treatment and equality of opportunity for all along with freedom to exercise your rights to access some part of the American Dream,” Geminiani said in a prepared statement. “I have been especially fortunate to have worked together with so many special people to help make a difference in this place we all love.”

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