Activision Blizzard Hires Former George W. Bush Administration Counterterrorism Expert

Frances Townsend has joined the Call of Duty and Warcraft company in a corporate affairs position with a lot of responsibilities.


Activision Blizzard has made a big-name new hire, bringing on former president George W. Bush's counterterrorism expert Frances F. Townsend to become the gaming company's executive vice president for corporate affairs. She also worked for the US Department of Justice in the George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush administrations. In her new role with the gaming company, Townsend will oversee Activision Blizzard's government affairs, public policy, and communications departments.

"Fran is a highly regarded public servant and corporate executive," Activision Bizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said in a statement. "We are very fortunate to have her wealth of experience added to our leadership team. Our company will benefit greatly from her energy, intellect, and stewardship."

Frances Townsend
Frances Townsend

Townsend said in her own statement: "I have known Bobby for over a decade and believe in him as a transformational leader. Activision Blizzard has grown at a remarkable rate over the last twenty five years, and I want to be part of the continuation of this incredible journey to connect the world through our amazing franchises."

Townsend worked for President George W. Bush as the assistant for homeland security and counterterrorism and was the chair of the Homeland Security Council during 2004-2008. Townsend was also the deputy national security advisor for fighting terrorism from 2003-2004. Townsend worked for 13 years at the US Department of Justice under the George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush administrations.

Most recently, Townsend worked as the vice chairman, general counsel, and chief administrative officer for the law firm MacAndrews & Forbes. She also remains on the board of directors at a few non-profits such as the Atlantic Council, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and the Council on Foreign Relations.

Townsend told the Wall Street Journal that one part of her job at Activision Blizzard will be to make sure the company remains in compliance with the rules and regulations of the nearly 200 countries that the company operates in.

"Oftentimes, these laws and regulations are not in harmony and so the real challenge is making sure that the folks who work in each individual area understand what the responsibilities and obligations are there," she said.

One region that is getting a lot of attention is China. Townsend said she will help protect the personal information of Activision Blizzard's users in China.

"The most important thing we care about in terms of compliance there is the protection of personal identifying information," she said. "We take the safety and security of our players wherever they are very seriously."

Townsend will also spend time working with lawmakers to inform them about video game business practices that they might not fully comprehend, like loot boxes.

"It's important that we are involved in the conversation as regulations are being considered," she said. "Often legislators are legislating on things they're not entirely familiar with, and when they do that, it can have consequences that they didn't intend."

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