Townsend, the eldest child of Robert and Ethel Kennedy, is an attorney who has written articles that connect faith to the push for a fairer society. She authored Failing America’s Faithful: How Today’s Churches are Mixing God with Politics and Losing their Way, a book about faith and contemporary politics that calls for spiritual renewal.
Townsend served as the first women lieutenant governor of Maryland, from 1995-2003. Prior to that appointment she was the deputy assistant attorney general of the United States. She founded the Maryland Student Service Alliance to make Maryland the first, and still the only, state that requires young people to engage in community service as a condition of graduation. While serving as lieutenant governor, she helped institute the office of Character Education, to help youth become responsible, engaged citizens. Townsend also helped launch the nationally acclaimed Police Corps, a program that gives college scholarships to young people who pledge to work as police officers for four years after graduating.
Townsend is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and has served on a number of non-profit boards, including the Points of Light Foundation. As chairwoman of the board of the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial, she created the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award. In 2010 she became the chair of American Bridge, a nonprofit organization that supports Democratic candidates and causes.
Townsend has appeared on Meet the Press, the Colbert Report, Larry King and Greta Van Susteran. She has taught at Georgetown University’s School of Public Policy and has been a Visiting Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government, where she focused her efforts on faith and public life.
Townsend will be in residence on the Linfield College campus March 5-9, where she will attend classes and meet with students. Her visit is sponsored by the President’s Office and the Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellows Program, a program that supports small liberal arts colleges by bringing together people from diverse backgrounds and perspectives for the purpose of discussion and learning.
Melrose Hall is located on the Linfield College campus, at 900 SE Baker Street in McMinnville. For more information, call (503) 883-2202.