Kathleen Kennedy Townsend
Lieutenant Governor, Maryland
Live Web cast September 7, 2000, 1 p.m. ET
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She’s not even governor yet, but when political pundits talk of the first
woman president, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend’s name is usually mentioned.
Townsend, Maryland’s first female lieutenant governor, is expected to run for the state’s top spot in 2002. After that, she may well be the first of her generation to take up the Kennedy mantle and run for president. She's already in the national spotlight -- she played an active role at the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles last month.
Since taking office in 1995, Townsend has made a national name for herself as an advocate of victims’ rights and an innovator in the fight against crime.
She is Chair of the Maryland Cabinet Council on Criminal and Juvenile
Justice, and in that capacity, developed the first statewide initiative in
the nation that targets crime hotspots. U.S. Attorney General Reno praised
it as a national model. Thanks to her strong support, Maryland is now
establishing a statewide automated phone system to warn crime victims when
an inmate is released from prison.
The oldest grandchild of Joe and Rose Kennedy, she’s the political star of a star-crossed family. Like the whole family, she has seen more than her
share of tragedy. Her uncle, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in
1963; five years later her father Robert Kennedy was assassinated as he
campaigned for president; in 1984 her brother David died of a drug overdose, and last year her cousin John F. Kennedy Jr. died in a plane crash.
Before becoming Lt. Governor, Townsend served as Deputy Assistant
Attorney General in the U.S. Department of Justice, during which time she
worked to establish community policing programs across the country.
She is the founder of the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award, the former
Chair of the Board of the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Foundation, and serves
on the Board of Directors of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.
Born in Greenwich, Connecticut on July 4, 1951, Townsend is the eldest
child of the late Senator and U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy and
Ethel Kennedy. She is a cum laude graduate of Harvard University and
a graduate of the University of New Mexico Law School. Her husband David is a professor at St. John's College in Annapolis, Maryland. They have four daughters.