As the Executive Director of the Center for Judicial Excellence (CJE), Kathleen Russell channels 18 years of expertise in grassroots organizing to protect mothers and children affected by the nation’s dysfunctional family court system. According to CJE, the basic right of mothers and fathers to parent and protect their children from harm is regularly violated by the family court system. Every year, this system allows 58,000 children to be placed into the custody of abusive parents.
To educate the public on the flaws in the family law system, Kathleen produced a documentary called Family Court Crisis: Our Children at Risk, along with an accompanying photo exhibit. In April of 2010, she appeared on The Dr. Phil Show to expose the devastating facts around how many children die because of the mistakes the system makes.
Not stopping there, Kathleen organized the first-ever White House Briefing on the Family Court Crisis in May of 2010. She also spent 17 months working with Senator Mark Leno to secure an audit request on family court appointees in the Marin and Sacramento County Family courts, a report which was just released last week and questions the qualifications of family court personnel. Perhaps one of the biggest accomplishments yet is the historic passing of AB 1050, a new state law which gives children 14 and older a voice in custody decisions.
Kathleen and the Center for Judicial Excellence have done amazing work. But the problems of the family court system can’t be tackled by one person and one organization alone. That’s why the Women’s Foundation of California is funding CJE’s leadership development program. Forty women of color will be trained as advocates and gain the skills to identify and expose the problems of the family court system, and strategically work to change it. The center envisions a family court system in which mothers going through divorce will not suffer harassment or incur crippling debt while trying to protect their children in custody situations.
If you’d like to be one of the forty women advocates, you are welcome to apply. Applications are due Tuesday February 8th. Find out more and apply now!