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. She also led the national advocacy effort to pass H.Con.Res.72 through the U.S. House of Representatives in September 2018.
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.
Anya Kaplan, Executive Assistant
Anya is a mother of four that has focused most of her time raising her children. As a survivor of domestic violence and a mother, she has witnessed how her own family has been negatively impacted by the unconstitutional and unjust family court policies and decisions. Anya manages all of CJE’s administrative affairs and handles our crisis outreach to protective parents in need.
Yasmine Yasin, Research Assistant
Yasmine has joined CJE as a Research Assistant and is also a second-year law student at UC Hastings College of the Law. She is a member of both the Women’s Law Society and the Family Law Association at UC Hastings. She has also interned at the Department of Justice and at the Eastern District Court of California.
Anjli Tantod, Bookkeeper
Anjli is a goal-oriented finance professional with over 20 years of financial expertise, primarily focused on formulating strategic initiatives for organizations. Through positive action and dedication to worthy causes, she is grateful to be a part of CJE’s stellar team that is doing essential work to serve and protect children’s rights.
Rebecca is a rising senior at George Washington University, pursuing a double major in Criminal Justice and Psychology. Rebecca hopes to use these two perspectives to inform a career in family law. First and foremost, Rebecca hopes to advocate for victims of abuse, as well as victims of the family court system- however, in this work she hopes to work towards changing the family court system so that it better supports and serves victims in an equitable manner. “I decided to volunteer at CJE because the work they do strongly resonates with me and I wanted to be able to contribute to this important and meaningful work to hopefully continue to expose and change the family court system in order to protect children.”