Kathleen Russell, Executive Director
Kathleen is the Founding Executive Director of the Center for Judicial Excellence (CJE) in Marin County, California. Kathleen advocates on behalf of CJE for legislative and administrative changes that will promote judicial accountability and better protect children’s and vulnerable populations rights in the courts. She works extensively with the news media to expose the national family court crisis that is devastating millions of families.
On the national policy front, Kathleen organized the first White House Briefing on the “Family Court Crisis” in May 2010, and she addressed the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women about the crisis in March 2011. More recently, she served as the emcee of the September 2016 briefing in Washington, D.C. that unveiled Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) and Rep. Carolyn Maloney’s (D-NY) Congressional Resolution about the family court crisis, H.Con.Res.150.
In California, Kathleen has been in the forefront of numerous successful legislative campaigns, including:
- State Sen. Mark Leno’s 2009 request to audit the Marin and Sacramento County Family Courts, which showed significant accountability problems in nearly every area measured.
- Then-Assemblywoman Fiona Ma’s AB 1050, which grants children 14 and older the right to testify about their wishes in California family courts, 2012 (Sec 3042).
- State Sen. Bob Wieckowski’s SB 594, which requires that a child custody evaluation, investigation, assessment, or report conducted pursuant to a contested hearing involving child custody, may only be considered by the court if the evaluation, investigation, or assessment is conducted in accordance with the minimum requirements provided under existing law (2015).
- The first audit of the California Commission on Judicial Performance in it’s 56 year history, in August 2016, which was requested by Sen. Hannah Beth Jackson, Asm. Catharine Baker, Asm. Mark Stone and Asm. Cristina Baker.
Kathleen founded and has managed her own public affairs firm, Kathleen Russell Consulting, since 2002. Given recent inroads with investigative news teams around California and the country, she recently decided to turn her full attention to her position with CJE, to ensure maximum progress in the battle to better protect children in the U.S. family court system.
Kathleen co-directed and produced the 2008 award-winning documentary Family Court Crisis: Our Children At Risk and served as the creative director and writer for the companion photo exhibit entitled Family Court Crisis: Surviving A Broken System. She also produced the CJE video project, Kids of Divorce Speak Out. She currently manages all of the organization’s media and legislative advocacy work.