Frances Townsend is a lifelong champion for social justice. Her interest in the fight against abuse has been a driving force throughout her career, and she’s now an Executive Vice President at Activision Blizzard. In this article, we’ll explore her journey from working as a prosecutor to helping lead the way as one of our most powerful voices for change!
Frances Townsend grew up in a modest home with her parents and six siblings, but she always felt something was missing from life in Philadelphia’s Germantown neighborhood. When snow fell on their street, she remembers that it would be covered within hours with trash—including bottles, candy wrappers, cigarette butts, old newspapers, and other debris.
In high school, she joined an organization called Girls Incorporated that empowered young girls through mentoring programs and encouraged them to have lofty ambitions—including going away to college. Townsend was so inspired by what these women were doing in their communities that when it came time for college applications, she decided on Boston University’s College of Liberal Arts, where she studied political science with a minor in criminal justice. An internship at the federal courthouse just before graduating led her into law school, which provided more opportunities for public service work along with legal training—and launched her career as a prosecutor fighting for victims of abuse.
After graduating with honors from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1985, Townsend joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Eastern District of Virginia, where she prosecuted cases involving violent crimes and drug trafficking organizations that were responsible for distributing large quantities of cocaine on an interstate level—and even into Europe! As a result, her career took her to Germany, where she was able to work at The Hague as part of America’s team helping prosecute war criminals after World War II ended in 1945. This provided additional avenues for service, including serving as legal adviser to three different judges there who worked with international courts prosecuting human rights abuses committed by Rwandan soldiers during their country’s civil war between 1990-1993, which led directly to the genocide.
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