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Kathleen Kennedy Townsend

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend

Maryland's 1st Female Lt. Governor & Child Advocate

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend

Maryland's 1st Female Lt. Governor & Child Advocate


Ms. Townsend has a long history of accomplishment in the public arena, and for the last decade has in the private sector. She is a Managing Director at the Rock Creek Group, an investment management company. She is Chair of the Governor’s Retirement Security Task Force for the State of Maryland.

Ms. Townsend founded the Center for Retirement Initiatives at the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University, where she is a Research Professor. The initial focus of the Center is to help states plan and implement policies and programs that would make it easier for people who do not have easy access to a pension plan to save for their senior years in an efficient and cost-effective manner, utilizing pooled, professional asset management. The Center both studies and facilitates efforts to expand retirement options.

The Center’s mission is to help states implement savings programs by: 1) compiling existing research on the most effective retirement options, 2) conducting original research, 3) developing methods to facilitate public debate, including analysis of messaging and conducting polls and focus groups, 4) becoming a resource for information, and 5) outreach through participation in conferences, hearings, papers, press, and the channels of social media.

As the State of Maryland’s first woman Lieutenant Governor, Ms. Townsend was in charge of a multimillion dollar budget and had oversight of major cabinet departments, including Economic Development and Transportation, State Police, Public Safety and Correction and Juvenile Justice. Prior to being elected Lt. Governor, Ms. Townsend served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the United States. In that role, she led the planning to put 100,000 police officers into the community and she ignited the Police Corps, a program to give college scholarships to young people who pledge to work as police officers for four years after graduation.

Prior to serving at the Department of Justice, Ms. Townsend spent seven years as the founder and director of the Maryland Student Service Alliance where she led the fight to make Maryland the first—and only—state to make service a graduation requirement.

She has been appointed Special Advisor at the Department of State. She is a Woodrow Wilson Fellow. She taught foreign policy at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and has been a visiting Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.  In the mid-1980s, she founded the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award.

She Chairs Center for Popular Democracy which builds the strength and capacity of democratic organizations.  She also serves on the Boards of the Center for American Progress, Institute for Contemplative Practice, Lightbridge, and New Tower Trust. Ms. Townsend is also a member of the Council of Foreign Relations and the Inter-American Dialogue. For the last eight years she has been Vice-Chair of the Future of Science conference held in Venice Italy and for the last four years Vice-Chair of Science for Peace held in Milan.

Ms. Townsend has chaired the Institute of Human Virology founded by Dr. Robert Gallo, which treats over 700,000 patients in Africa as part of the PEPFAR program, has chaired the Robert Kennedy Memorial and has been on the Board of Directors of the John F Kennedy Library Foundation.  Previously, she served on a number of  boards including  the Export-Import Bank, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), the Wilderness Society, the Points of Light Foundation, the National Catholic Reporter and the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, the Baltimore Urban League and the Brady Campaign.

An honors graduate of Harvard University, Ms. Townsend received her law degree from the University of New Mexico where she was a member of the law review. She has received fourteen honorary degrees. A member of the bar in Maryland, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, she is also a certified broker-dealer.

Ms. Townsend’s book, Failing America’s Faithful: How Today’s Churches Mixed God with Politics and Lost Their Way has been published by Warner Books in March 2007.

Speaker Videos

On Chris Matthew's Hardball

Speech Topics

From the Classroom to the Boardroom: Building Character & Living Ethically

Townsend identifies and discusses ethical issues in education, business and government and delves into the ethical lessons she has learned in her life and political career, and shows how they can apply not just to government and schools, but to business as well. She also looks at what organizations and individuals can do to improve their ethical choices and shares her current experience with Operation Respect.

Making Government Work

Townsend offers specific examples of government programs that have worked effectively, including programs that she has designed, implemented, and run. She examines the key points necessary for making government work: having a vision and a goal, maintaining a results-oriented focus (just as in a business environment), and the crucial nature of citizen involvement.

Volunteerism and Service

Time is precious to us all making the gift of time all the more valuable. Giving time as a volunteer offering community service is just one way that people work together to make a difference and to effect change. Townsend explores reasons for, and rewards gained from, passionate volunteering. She shows how getting involved can make an important difference in your own life and the lives of others.

Women and Power

Townsend offers an historic overview of women’s search for power, and how their ambition has often been criticized. She addresses the challenges young women continue to face today, and shows how to identify them and overcome them. In this funny, entertaining, and above all inspiring speech, Townsend offers valuable, useful insights based on her personal experiences in “a man’s world”.