Rex Niswander has worked as a lawyer for more that 35 years, primarily in New York City but also three years in Japan. For 50 years he has been involved in music as a musician, producer, concert presenter and manager. He is the CEO of Laughing Buddha Records, which specializes in Tibetan music and has won several Tibetan Music Awards. He co-founded GLP Music with Angela Jackson, founder of the Global Language Project. They released Coloreando, a collection of Spanish children’s songs that won the Latin Grammy for the Best Latin Children’s Album of 2014. He lived and worked in Japan for about 6 years and his wife is Japanese.
Niswander wrote Visas for Life, a multimedia tribute to Chiune Sugihara (the "Japanese Schindler"), Japanese Consul in Lithuania during World War II. At great danger to himself and his family, Sugihara saved thousands of Jews from the Holocaust by granting them transit visas in direct violation of orders from the Japanese government. In association with the World Youth Leadership Network, Visas for Life had its U.S. premier in New York at Carnegie Hall and its Japanese premier in Tokyo's Kioi Hall with the support of the Israeli Embassy in Japan.
Niswander spent many years living and working in Asia, including Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines and Korea. After graduating from the Defense Language Institute, he began his professional career as a Chinese translator for the U.S. Air Force Security Service. He is also a graduate of Columbia Law School and received Columbia's Parker School Recognition of Achievement with Honors in International and Comparative Law. At Columbia he was a Teaching Fellow, an International Fellow and an editor of both the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law and the Columbia Journal of Law & the Arts. He has a B.A. with honors from the University of Kansas Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures. He also studied at Tsukuba University in Japan and at Taiwan Normal University in Taipei.
Since 2014, Niswander has served as Chair of the Advisory Board of the School of Languages, Literatures & Cultures at the University of Kansas. He is also a member of the boards of the Riverside Symphony Orchestra and the Marshall McLuhan Center on Global Communications. He is President of the Niswander Foundation, whose projects include the John Niswander Awards for outstanding students of Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Tibetan at the University of Kansas. Since the program was established in 1995, Niswander Awards have been given to 96 students. Past positions include Chair of the Board of Directors of the Global Language Project and service on the boards of the American Institute of Guitar and Tibet Aid.