Townsend was elected as a Green Party councillor for the Southville ward in Bristol in May 2021. She has more than 25 years’ experience in the education sector as a teacher, school governor, and multi-academy trust chair, as well as being chair of Bristol’s School Forum – a statutory body that focuses on school funding and sector suitability at authority level.  Townsend is a founding member of the charity Integrate UK, and was until recently a board trustee.