Serving Hawaii’s Public Since 2013

Meet the people behind the Public First Law Center

R. Brian Black

President & Executive Director

As Executive Director, Brian seeks to enhance the public dialogue between government and the community through a better informed citizenry.

Instilled with a strong community service ethic at Punahou School, Brian led the Civil Liberties Union at Harvard University, specialized in Public Law at Cornell University, clerked for a federal district court in Connecticut, and served as the inaugural fellow for the National Center on Philanthropy and the Law at New York University. When he returned to Hawaii in 2011 after almost a decade in private practice as a complex commercial litigator with Hogan Lovells in New York, he was motivated by a sense of civic duty to serve the local community.

Brian joined the Department of the Corporation Counsel for the City and County of Honolulu, assigned primarily to advise the Department of Environmental Services. Building on that experience, Brian uses innovative advocacy and a spirit of healthy government collaboration to further the Public First’s mission.

Ben Creps

Staff Attorney

Ben joined Public First as a staff attorney in 2023, inspired by its mission to promote a more open and transparent government.

Ben is a proud alumnus of Mid Pacific Institute (2006), University of Southern California (2010), and the Richardson School of Law (2013). Following law school, Ben clerked for the Honorable Dan Foley at the Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals. He then joined the Ashford & Wriston law firm, where he developed a broad civil litigation practice. After several years in private practice, Ben entered the public sector first as a legislative research attorney for the Hawaii Senate, and then as a deputy with the Hawaii Department of the Attorney General, where he focused on consumer protection matters.

In addition to his legal experience, Ben brings with him a deep appreciation and optimism for the good government can do when guided by the informed participation of its people. It is a fundamental right of the people to be informed and involved in matters pertaining to their government. Ben is committed to protecting and promoting this right in ways big and small, and always with the aloha spirit.

Gillian Kim


Gillian Kim is the sixth Fellow for Public First. Born in Connecticut, she received her B.A. from the University of Mississippi, where she studied International Relations, Spanish, and English. 

After moving to Hawaii, she worked for the State Judiciary before deciding to attend law school. She received her law degree from the William S. Richardson School of Law at UH Manoa, where she graduated with certificates in Environmental Law and Native Hawaiian Law. While in law school, she was an Outside Articles Editor for the University of Hawaii Law Review, a member of the Native American Moot Court Team, and served as a teaching assistant for the legal writing program. Prior to joining Public First, she worked for the Hawaii Department of the Attorney General and the Department of the Navy, Office of General Counsel.


Learn Open
Government Advocacy

The Public First Fellowship provides an individual with the opportunity to learn and practice legal advocacy in a mentored setting.