Frances Townsend-The "Women" Behind the Scenes

From July 28, 2004 – March 30, 2008, Frances Townsend was the third person to hold the Official title: Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism. She is native New Yorker, wife of lawyer, John Michael Townsend, and mother of two. Townsend has been working behind the scenes, on the front lines, to put away the bad guys since 1985.

Educational Background

Frances Townsend (born in 1961) was not raised with a spoon in her mouth. However, drive and determination motivated her to push hard for a good education. She graduated from American University, cum laude, in 1982, with Bachelor of Arts degree, Political science, and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. In 1984, Townsend earned the Juris Doctor degree from the University of San Diego School of Law.


Her distinguished career in combating crime began in 1985, as an Assistant District Attorney in New York City.

  • In 1988, Rudolph Giuliani offered her a position in the United States Attorney’s Office, where she was assigned to combat White Collar crime.
  • In 1990, she transferred to the Justice Department.
  • In 1991, Townsend assisted the Office of the Attorney General in establishing the newly created division, Office of International Programs.
  • In 1993, she served as Chief of Staff to the Assistant Attorney General in the Criminal Division.
  • From 1993-2001, Townsend served in several positions within the Justice Department. She worked closely with high-ranking members of the Intelligence community such, as Janet Reno and John P. O’Neill.

The Take-Down of Osama bin Laden

After, Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on The World Trade Center, thousands of Intelligence officers worked tirelessly behind the scenes to capture the mastermind, Osama bin Laden. One of France Townsend’s roles was to remain in close communications with British Intelligence. This required many sleepless nights. During this time, Townsend may have stepped on a few toes, but the President’s order to prevent the next attack was her single focus.

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