[photograph of Lt. Governor Townsend]

KATHLEEN KENNEDY TOWNSEND, Lieutenant Governor (Democrat)

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Maryland's first woman lieutenant governor, has made it her mission to build safe communities across the state through a comprehensive strategy that targets high-risk offenders, reclaims high-risk neighborhoods, protects and supports victims, and prevents youth violence, drug use, and gangs. The backbone of the strategy is to create new partnerships between citizens, police, the business and religious communities, and public agencies. To develop and oversee the State's anti-crime efforts, Governor Parris N. Glendening appointed her Chair of the Cabinet Council on Criminal and Juvenile Justice, which consists of nine cabinet secretaries and the Attorney General.

Through the work of the Cabinet Council and a series of 15 regional crime summits she held across Maryland, Lt. Governor Townsend developed the first statewide initiative in the nation that systematically targets "hotspots," specific places that account for the lion's share of crime. Hailed by U.S. Attorney General Reno as a national model, the Maryland HotSpot Communities Initiative pulls together previously scattered government agency operations and grant funds to target 36 high-crime and at-risk neighborhoods across Maryland with an unprecedented array of resources for community policing, probation enforcement, nuisance abatement, youth violence prevention, and community mobilization.

Mrs. Townsend spearheaded the establishment of Operation Maryland Cease Fire and the Maryland Community Policing Academy. Cease Fire is the first State Police unit to target illegal gun traffickers. Since its inception in 1995, the unit has confiscated hundreds of assault weapons and other illegal firearms, and closed a gun store that sold weapons traced to a dozen murders. Also a national first, the Maryland Community Policing Academy trains police and citizens together to build the mutual trust that enables communities to shut down open-air drug markets and make lasting reductions in crime and fear.

Lt. Governor Townsend also is working to strengthen the juvenile justice system, ensuring that violent juveniles are prosecuted as adults, while holding first-time and minor offenders accountable for their actions. She helped craft and secure passage of legislation that changes the mission of Maryland's juvenile courts to emphasize public safety and offender accountability, as well as help juveniles become responsible citizens. Other measures require that courts deliver swift sanctions and police notify schools when they arrest students for major offenses. In addition, they place juvenile probation officers inside at-risk schools, and increase the amount of restitution juveniles pay their victims.

Mrs. Townsend has strengthened the adult criminal justice system as well. She and Governor Glendening sponsored legislation to reduce delays in applying the death penalty and instituted a new policy of refusing to grant parole to offenders sentenced to life in prison. The Lt. Governor also is expanding the use of cost-effective intermediate punishments, such as boot camps and home detention for nonviolent offenders. Her Break-the-Cycle Initiative is an unprecedented statewide effort to cut drug-related crime by targeting drug-addicted offenders on probation and parole. These offenders are subject to frequent drug testing and escalating sanctions for each failed test as a way to motivate them to stay in treatment and remain drug- and crime-free.

Along with key legislators, Mrs. Townsend has led the campaign to tighten Maryland's drunk driving laws, working to pass legislation that makes it easier to convict motorists caught driving with blood-alcohol levels of .10 or above.

While tough enforcement and punishment are essential, Mrs. Townsend strongly believes that prevention must be an equal priority. Through the Cabinet Council, she crafted legislation to increase teachers' authority to remove disruptive students from the classroom and establish a statewide student Code of Discipline. Mrs. Townsend created the first state Character Education Office in the nation so schools can help parents teach their children core values, such as honesty, fairness, respect, responsibility, and other ethical behavior. She also has tripled the amount of the State's grant funding for after-school activities for high-risk youth.

As the official responsible for administering the federal Violence Against Women Act in Maryland, and as Co-Chair of the Maryland Family Violence Council, along with State Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr., Mrs. Townsend is overseeing legal and policy changes needed to protect victims of domestic violence, hold abusers accountable, and break the cycle of violence between generations. Legislation recommended by the Council has strengthened civil protection orders and other safeguards for victims.

Before becoming Lt. Governor, Mrs. Townsend served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the U.S. Department of Justice. She was responsible for a budget of over a billion dollars to support local law enforcement and establish community policing programs across the country.

Committed to providing quality education for all citizens, Mrs. Townsend has taught at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), and Essex and Dundalk Community Colleges. She was the first Executive Director of the Maryland Student Service Alliance, a public-private partnership she founded with the State Department of Education to inspire young people to serve their communities. Under her leadership, Maryland became the first state in the nation to require that all high school students perform community service. The Alliance also launched Civic Works, an urban service corps which puts young adults to work while teaching critical job skills.

In addition, Mrs. Townsend, a long-time advocate for children and families, serves as Chair of the Governor's Task Force on Children, Youth, and Families Systems Reform. She is a life-long champion of environmental conservation and a strong proponent of international trade and economic development. In all these areas, the Lt. Governor has been actively involved, privately and professionally, publishing articles in the Baltimore Sun, the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Ladies Home Journal, the Washington Monthly, and in several law reviews. Mrs. Townsend is the founder of the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award and the former Chair of the Board of the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Foundation. She was elected Chair of the National Democratic Caucus of Lieutenant Governors. She is founding Chair of the Board of Advisors of Maryland's Character Education Initiative, and past Chair of the Peabody Institute Oversight Committee. Mrs. Townsend serves on the national Board of Advisors of the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EX-IM Bank), The Johns Hopkins University Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), and the Institute of Human Virology of the University of Maryland. She also serves on the Board of Directors of the National Institute for Women's Policy Research, and the Board of Partners of Radcliffe College.

Born on July 4, 1951, Mrs. Townsend is the eldest child of the late Senator and U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and Mrs. Ethel S. Kennedy. Mrs. Townsend is a cum laude graduate of Harvard University and a graduate of the University of New Mexico Law School, where she was an editor of the law review. She has received many honorary degrees. Mrs. Townsend lives in Baltimore County with her husband, David, a professor at St. John's College in Annapolis, and two of their four daughters, Kate (14), and Kerry (6). Her oldest daughters, 20-year-old Meaghan and 18-year-old Maeve are in their junior and freshman years of college.

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 Maryland Manual On-Line, 1998

July 10, 1998   
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Copyright July 06, 1998 Maryland State Archives