CJE was founded in April 2006 by a group of concerned Marin County residents who believed that community involvement will strengthen our judiciary. What began as a small, informal discussion with a handful of people has grown into an effective public education and advocacy organization that helps provide a voice for abused children and protective parents at the local, state and national levels.
CJE Board of Directors
Patti Cohn, President
Patti’s connections and roots in Marin County are deep and wide. As a top-producing real estate broker here for 30 years, she is well-connected and dynamic and has been donating time, resources, and money to charitable causes for three decades. A resident of Ross for 25 years, she has given back in that community as well as sponsoring African girls to college and building homes in Guatemala, along with championing many other causes. Learning about the profound difference CJE/Kathleen Russell makes in the world inspires her enthusiasm and commitment to the organization.
Elsa Ng, Vice-President
Elsa has a psychotherapy private practice in Marin County working with individuals, couples and families. Having worked as a crisis specialist both in San Francisco and Marin County for almost 30 years, including SF Mobile Crisis, Marin Psychiatric Emergency Services, and Marin County Jail, Elsa has first-hand experience working with families in crises that often involve domestic violence, abuse and child custody conflicts. Elsa also provides crisis, disaster and traumatic events counseling, including work with first responders in the North Bay Fire and crisis counseling for employees impacted by shootings, robberies, massive layoffs, or coworker suicides, etc.
Stephen Burdo, Treasurer
Stephen Burdo brings many years of nonprofit management and strategic consulting experience to the CJE Board. He served as a key consultant to CJE for eight years and was instrumental in the development of the organization’s bylaws, in many of our public policy wins, and in our fundraising efforts from 2007 – 2015. Stephen joined the Board in 2018 and now works as a Public Information Officer at Contra Costa County.
Marivic Mabanag is the Executive Director of High Ridge House, a sanctuary for healing and renewal in New York. Marivic has over 35 years of experience working for the nonprofit, public and private sectors. As a nationally recognized policy leader, activist and social entrepreneur, she has served on the staff of four Mayors, as the Chief Executive of the California State Domestic Violence Coalition and she has started programs for homeless young women and worked on statewide youth violence prevention initiatives.
Originally from the Philippines, Marivic Mabanag came to the U.S. when she received a scholarship to Wellesley College in Massachusetts and where she was selected as the Commencement Speaker.
Marivic is the Co-Founder of the Filipino-American Democratic Caucus of the California Democratic Party. She continues to be involved in various national initiatives for the empowerment of minorities, women and youth.
Mary Lee Strebl
Mary Lee was born in San Francisco and graduated from Stanford University with a B.A. in Spanish. She lived in Austria for 19 years and has now lived in Marin for more than 40 years. Since 1986, Mary Lee has lived in the San Geronimo Valley, where she was Treasurer of the San Geronimo Valley Property Owners Association for six years and President for two years. Mary Lee has been on the CJE Board of Directors since its inception, and she brings years of dedicated court watching and philanthropy experience to the Board.
Anita Kennedy joined our board in 2015. A Bay Area native, she has worked in human services since 1993 and brings a wealth of experience in the non-profit and local government Health & Human Services system. Anita works closely with many local agencies and has handled cases addressing and coordinating criminal justice, substance abuse, family services, domestic violence barriers and medical/mental health barriers. Anita has helped CJE coordinate and produce fundraising events and has previously served as Secretary of the board.
Jean Taylor, Board President, Emeritus
Jean Taylor was a steady and pivotal leader of the Center for Judicial Excellence during the organization’s formative years, serving as our Board President from 2006 through 2016. Jean’s fierce dedication to child safety, to human dignity and to community service was infectious, and her leadership resulted in her receiving the County of Marin’s Martin Luther King Human Rights Award. She was also inducted into the Marin Women’s Hall of Fame. Jean retired from the Board in early 2017 to deal with some health issues, but her legacy lives on in the work we do each and every day. We would not be where we are today without Jean’s steadfast commitment to family court reform.