Born and raised in Mineola, New York, Frances Townsend comes from a working-class family and became the first to become a high school graduate. After high school, she earned two bachelor’s degrees from American University where she majored in psychology and political science. Then, in 1984 she went on to attend the University of San Diego School of Law and earned her J.D.
After law school, she began a career in prosecution where she worked as a Brooklyn Assistant District Attorney. While there, she obtained mentoring from many federal prosecutors such as Louis Freeh and Rudolph Giuliani.
Following her duties as Assistant District Attorney, Frances went on to the Department of Justice where she investigated legalities on an international level. While at the DOJ she also assisted in the creation of the Office of International Programs, which eventually became the National Security office.
Throughout the mid 90s, Townsend held many notable DOJ positions under the Attorney General. One of her many positions included Director of International Affairs and became the Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General. In 1998, Townsend became the Intelligence Policy and Review Counsel, which involved activities that gathered intelligence in accordance with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. In 2001, she became an adviser for Attorney General Janet Reno, and worked as a go-between of a Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent and the Department of Justice Attorney General until the Bush administration took over.
Once the Bush administration was in office, she was transferred into the role of Assistant Commandant for Intelligence with the US Coast Guard. While with the Coast Guard and on Maternity Leave throughout the time of the Sept. 11 attacks, Frances aided in the improvement of legislation involving intelligence which made the Coast Guard´s main priority focus on protecting all U.S. coastal ports.
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