NORTH NEWTON, KAN. -- Kathleen Kennedy Townsend’s career in public office has shown how seriously she took the responsibility to serve others that was given to her at an early age. Townsend is the third and final speaker in the annual Peace Lecture Series sponsored by the Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (KIPCOR) at Bethel College. She will speak Monday, April 3, at 7:30 p.m. in Krehbiel Auditorium on the Bethel College campus. Her lecture is titled "Do unto others: What America needs in religion and politics."
Townsend was 12 when her uncle John F. Kennedy was assassinated. The oldest of Robert and Ethel Kennedy’s 11 children, and of her generation of Kennedys, she was 16 when her father was killed.
When her uncle John died, Townsend’s father wrote her a letter, part of which now hangs on a wall in her home. "Be kind and work for your country," the letter said. "As the eldest of the Kennedy children you have a special responsibility now."
Townsend has worked as a deputy assistant attorney general in the U.S. Justice Department and has held Maryland state government posts, including assistant attorney general. During her two terms as Maryland’s first female lieutenant governor (1995-2003), she worked for the issues people care about most--improving schools, fighting crime, creating jobs and ensuring quality health care for children and seniors.
A results-oriented strategist for effective government, Townsend draws on her experience to explore ethical issues in education, business and government, and the value and rewards of volunteerism. She has taught at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Maryland. Before becoming lieutenant governor, she founded the Maryland Student Service Alliance and was instrumental in making Maryland the first state to require high school community service. She founded the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award and is on the board of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.
Townsend is a cum laude graduate of Harvard University and a graduate of the University of New Mexico Law School. She and her husband David Townsend, a professor at St. John’s College in Annapolis, Md., have four daughters.
This Peace Lecture is made possible in part by the Peace with Justice Task Force, Kansas West Conference of the United Methodist Church, and the Adorers of the Blood of Christ U.S. Province Charitable Giving Fund.
The KIPCOR Peace Lecture Series is now in its 33rd year. It has received support from the J. Winfield Fretz lecture fund that helps bring speakers and events on topics of peace and justice, and from individual contributors to KIPCOR and to specific lecturers. Peace Series speakers have included scholars, performing artists, activists and visionaries.
Kathleen Kennedy Townsend’s lecture is free and open to the public. For more information, call KIPCOR at (316) 284-5217.
Bethel College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Founded in 1887, it is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Bethel is known for its academic excellence and has been named a Top Tier college by U.S. News & World Report every year since 1998. For more information, see the Bethel web site at www.bethelks.edu.