Learn about Ione Townsend, the path she took to get here, and her commitment to the success of the Democratic Party in Florida.
DETERMINED. COMPETENT. TRANSPARENT.
Ione Townsend has had ample opportunity to demonstrate a natural gift for caring for others, effective leadership and follow-through; she was born in the foothills of Maine, raised by a single mom, and the eldest of three children with a lot of responsibility on her shoulders.
Ione grew up on the back of a horse and is an accomplished equestrian. Among her award-winning achievements is completing a 100 mile endurance race across three days, a solo trek relying only on a single horse. Ione’s determination and resilience defines her entire life. She cut her teeth on politics in Maine, knocking on doors for George Mitchell’s campaign for US Senator. She also served on her local school board.
Ione married CL Townsend, from Wakulla County (just south of Tallahassee), who is a descendant of colonial-era British and American pioneer settlers in the territory that became Florida. She is the proud parent of 5 sons and has 5 grandchildren.
Ione and CL raised their family in Maine, only to return to CL’s home of Florida in 2005.
Ione Townsend felt called to serve her community and built a remarkable and diverse professional career as a nurse, a psychiatric clinical nurse specialist, a family nurse practitioner, and as a hospital executive - but not in that order. As an executive, Ione managed hundreds of employees and multimillion-dollar budgets, but she had a late-life career change going back to school and becoming a nurse practitioner at age 52. She ended her professional career as a nurse practitioner at Moffitt Cancer Center after 14 ½ years - taking off her stethoscope for the last time in June 2020 in order to focus fully on her work for the Democratic Party.
As a co-investigator, Ione has authored or co-authored numerous research articles in oncology. Ione received her BS in Nursing, graduating Magna Cum Laude from the University of Maine, Portland/Gorham (now USM), followed by her MS in Psychiatric and Mental Health Community Nursing from Boston University, and then received the Pauline Wheble Tripp Award for Excellence in Academic and Professional Achievement in 2002 from Simmons College, Graduate School of Nursing in Boston, MA upon becoming nurse practitioner.
Before Ione Townsend assumed the Vice Chair position in the Hillsborough County DEC, the HCDEC in 2014 gave a combined total of only $2,000 to six candidates listed on the Hillsborough ballot.
Since becoming Hillsborough Chairwoman less than a year later, Ione and her leadership team have increased membership from less than 100 to over 450, raised more than $1.5 Million, and won Democratic supermajorities on the Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners and the School Board, as well as winning 6 of 7 of the Constitutional offices. During her tenure and by focusing on races all over the county (rather than simply centering the City of Tampa), she helped flip two State House seats, one State Senate seat and the City Council of Temple Terrace from red to blue. She created a Victory Fund to help get Democrats elected, and ushered in the Hillsborough Society to support the party infrastructure, so that DEC membership could concentrate on their primary mission of getting Democrats elected.
Ione’s determination and commitment in every phase of her life, that track record of transparency and success (which is absolutely replicable across all 67 counties), as well as the willingness to step up and do the work required, seeing it through to completion, are all qualities that have prepared her for the role of Chair of the Florida Democratic Party.
"My goal for the Florida Democratic Party is to build trust and party infrastructure through integrity, transparency, accountability and an unshakeable commitment to representation through vigorous 'small d' democracy."
- Ione Townsend
Ione Townsend challenges the idea that politics needs to be a game of deception and dishonesty. Her work in Hillsborough shows that a person who is transparent, ethical and honest can be a successful political force. Under the steady leadership of Ione, Hillsborough has transformed from a bellwether county to a deep blue county in the past 5 years.
Let’s get to work, together, sharing best practices, to start the same kind of transformation statewide. It won’t be a billionaire or the consultant class who saves us - it will be the integrity, accountability and collaboration of all committed Democrats, being led by example, that will change the tide.