Jacqueline Franchetti’s work as the Founder and Executive Director of Kyra’s Champions began on July 27, 2016, the day her 2-year-old daughter, Kyra, was shot to death by her abusive father, and left inside a burning house.
Days earlier, Kyra was court-ordered to have unsupervised overnight visits with her dangerous father by Nassau County Judge Danielle Peterson.
This horrific tragedy birthed Jacqueline’s charitable and advocacy work to enact legislative and policy changes prioritizing child safety in custody cases.
Jacqueline’s efforts prompted the passage of legislation in multiple states and federally that protect children from abusive parents. She collaborated with New York State legislators to draft a package of bills, including “Kyra’s Law,” that are common sense solutions aimed at protecting children.
Most notably, Kyra’s Law would expand judicial training on family violence and child abuse, and help ensure a child’s safety is prioritized when judges make custody decisions.
Jacqueline was one of 20 people selected to serve on a statewide commission by the governor exploring the role of forensic child custody evaluators who often minimize or ignore allegations of family violence and abuse.
Jacqueline was also instrumental in the passing of H.Con.Res. 72 in Congress to make child safety the top priority in divorce/family courts. This monumental achievement marked the first time in 30 years that Congress addressed family court issues.
Jacqueline is most proud of Kyra’s Champions’ Student Advocacy program, a movement created for high-school students allowing them to work directly with lawmakers. Student advocates help plan, coordinate, and speak at rallies all around New York.
Jacqueline also helms the Kyra Franchetti Foundation, a nonprofit raising awareness about the risk of family violence, especially to children, inside and outside our divorce/family court system.
The foundation focuses on changing the way violence and abuse are addressed so child safety is put above all else.
Most recently, the Kyra Franchetti Foundation has partnered with the Safe and Together Institute to offer a new program for attorneys representing children to help them better understand the dynamics of family violence and child abuse.
Jacqueline has received numerous awards for her advocacy work, including the highly competitive “Business Mastery Championship” and the trophy was presented by Tony Robbins.
The R Baby Foundation honored her with their “Courage Award” just five months after Kyra’s murder.
She received the “Justice for Children Leader Award” by the California Protective Parents Association, and in 2023 had the honor of receiving the “Women of Distinction” award from Blank Slate Media, as well as the “Family Justice Award” from Fearless! Hudson Valley.
Jacqueline believes her work is just beginning in the child advocacy space. She knows that Kyra’s Law needs to be in all 50 states and hopes to expand her student advocacy and attorney education programs to many more people.
What are the most significant challenges you have as a woman in your industry?
So much of Jacqueline’s work has been focused on protecting children and their safe parent from family violence. This includes both moms and dads in custody cases.
Despite advocacing for children and parents, she has been both shocked and saddened to see how misogyny still plays such a huge role inside and outside our courtrooms. On nearly a daily basis, her biggest challenge is fighting the default message and assumption that all women are ’emotional,’ ‘irrational’ or ‘manipulative’.
She found herself having to carefully consider each and every word and tone used – far more than any man would have to. It takes an immense amount of work and energy to simply communicate in a way to be heard loud enough and clear enough to cut through biases.
While Jacqueline is grateful for the skills she has built through this challenge, she also looks forward to the day future women will simply be heard, without bias.