Kathleen Kennedy Townsend
Founder and Advisory Council Member
Ms. Townsend has a long history of accomplishment in the public arena and for the last decade has worked in the private sector. She is a Managing Director at the Rock Creek Group, an investment management company. She is an appointed member of the Maryland Small Business Retirement Savings Board, tasked in 2016 with implementing the new state sponsored retirement savings programs for private sector workers in 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.
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.