Kathleen Hartington Kennedy Townsend (born July 4, 1951), is an American attorney who was the Lieutenant Governor of Maryland from 1995 to 2003. She ran unsuccessfully for Governor of Maryland in 2002. In 2010 she became the chair of the non-profit American Bridge, an organization that will raise funds for Democratic candidates and causes. She is member of the Kennedy family.
Townsend was born in Greenwich, Connecticut, the eldest of Robert F. Kennedy and Ethel Skakel Kennedy's 11 children, and the eldest grandchild of Joseph P. Kennedy and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy. She was named for her aunt Kathleen Kennedy Cavendish, who had died in a plane crash in 1948. It was not assumed that the girls in the politically-oriented Kennedy family would run for office or become public persons, while she was growing up. However, after her uncle President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, her father wrote her saying, "As the oldest of the next generation you have a particular responsibility... Be kind to others and work for your country." Her family gave her the nicknames "Clean Kathleen," "the Nun," and "the Un-Kennedy".
She spent most of her childhood in McLean, Virginia and attended Stone Ridge School in nearby Bethesda, Maryland. She graduated from The Putney School in Vermont. She attended Radcliffe College (which later became part of Harvard University), receiving her bachelor's degree in history and literature with honors in 1974. She then studied at the University of New Mexico School of Law, receiving her Juris Doctor degree in 1978.