Frances Fragos Townsend is an Executive Vice President at MacAndrews and Forbes Holdings, LLC. Prior to Joining MacAndrews and Forbes in 2010, Ms. Townsend was a corporate partner with the law firm Baker Botts, LLC. Ms. Townsend spend more than 20 years in public service. She served as Assistant to President George W. Bush for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism and chaired the Homeland Security Council from May 2004 until January 2008. She previously served as Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Combating Terrorism from May 2003 to May 2004. Ms. Townsend has regularly appeared on network and cable television as a counterterrorism, national, and homeland security expert. She has received numerous awards for her public service accomplishments. Ms. Townsend is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission. Ms. Townsend also serves on three private company boards, one of which she chairs the board and on all she chairs the compensation committees. Ms. Townsend also serves on several U.S. government advisory boards and numerous nonprofit boards.
Ms. Townsend came to the White House from the U.S. Coast Guard, where she served as the first Assistant Commandant for Intelligence. Priot to that, Ms. Townsend spent 13 years at the U.S. Department of Justice under the administrations of President George H.W. Bush, President Bill Clinton, and President George W. Bush. She served in a variety of senior positions, including as Counsel to the Attorney General for Intelligence Policy. Ms. Townsend began her prosecutorial career in 1985, serving as an Assistant District Attorney in Brooklyn, New York.
In 1988, she joined the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York where she focused on international organized crime and white-collar crime investigations and litigation. In 1991, she worked in the Office of the Attorney General to assist in establishing the newly created Office of International Programs, the predecessor to the Executive Office for National Security. In December 1993, she joined the Criminal Division where she served as Chief of Staff to the Assistant Attorney General and played a critical part in establishing the Division’s international training and rule of law programs.
From November of 1995 to November of 1997, Ms. Townsend was Director of the Office of Internatioinal Affairs in the Criminal Division, which serves as the U.S. Central Authority for extradition and mutual legal assistance, and works with the Department of State in the negotiation of international law enforcement treaties. In November of 1997, Ms. Townsend was appointed as Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division, where she oversaw international law enforcement and training matters in the Criminal Division, and acted as an advisor to the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General on international law enforcement policy.
In March of 1998, Ms. Townsend was appointed Counsel to the Attorney General for Intelligence Policy, managing matters related to national security policy and operations for the Department of Justice. In this capacity she headed the office of Intelligence Policy and Review, an office that provides legal advice and recommendations to the Attorney General and the Department of Justice regarding national security matters, reviews executive orders, directives, and procedures relating to the intelligence community, and approves certain intelligence-gathering activities, expecially those matters related to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
After three years of study, Ms. Townsend graduated cum laude from the American University in 1982, where she received a B.A. in Political Science and a B.S. in Psychology. Ms. Townsend received her J.D. from the Univeristy of San Diego, School of Law in 1984. In 1986, she attended the Instititue on International and Comparative Law in London, England. In 2001, she attended the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University where she completed the Senior Managers in Government course. Ms. Townsend has taught trial advocacy at Harvard Law School and Pace University Law School.
She has two sons.