Melody Barnes

Assistant to the President and Director, the White House Domestic Policy Council (2009-2012)
Fee Range: $15,000–$25,000 [FEE NOTE]
Travels From: Virginia
Melody Barnes is a Co-Founder and Principal of MB2 Solutions LLC, a domestic strategy firm, and a Senior Fellow and Compton Visiting Professor in World Politics in the Miller Center at the University of Virginia; she is also a Distinguished Fellow in the School of Law. Barnes serves as an Independent Director on the Boards of Ventas, Inc.; Booz Allen Hamilton Holding Corporation; the Marguerite Casey Foundation and Year Up. Ms. Barnes also chairs the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions and Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund, serves as vice chair of the advisory board of the Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University and is a member of the board of trustees for the Thomas Jefferson Foundation that owns and operates Monticello. From January 2009 until January 2012, she was Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council.

As Director of the Domestic Policy Council, Ms. Barnes provided strategic advice to President Obama and worked closely with members of the Cabinet coordinating the domestic policy agenda across the Administration. Under her leadership, innovative new policies, practices and partnerships were initiated to address significant national challenges, including education, health care and the federal government’s relationship with local governments and communities.

From July 2008 until January 2009, Ms. Barnes served as the senior domestic policy advisor to the Obama for America campaign and the Obama-Biden Transition Project. Until July 2008, Ms. Barnes was the Executive Vice President for Policy at the Center for American Progress, a progressive research institute and think tank. From December 1995 until March 2003, Ms. Barnes worked for Senator Edward M. Kennedy on the Senate Judiciary Committee; she served as his chief counsel from 1998 until she left the Committee in 2003. Barnes’ experience also includes an appointment as Director of Legislative Affairs for the U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Assistant Counsel to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights. Barnes began her career as an attorney with Shearman & Sterling in New York City.

Ms. Barnes received her law degree from the University of Michigan in 1989. In 1986, she received her bachelor's degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she graduated with honors in history. She is a sought-after commentator on U.S. domestic public policy, and her numerous media appearances include
This Week with George Stephanopoulos, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Fareed Zakaria GPS, Charlie Rose, Morning Joe, and the NewsHour.

Most Requested Topics:

  • Today’s Most Critical Issues and Current Events: Melody Barnes addresses many of today’s most critical issues and current events, topic areas include:

    - Economic and Social Mobility in an Increasingly Diverse America
    - Twin Challenges: America’s Education System and Competitiveness
    - Today's Political Issues: Causes and Solutions
    - Politics and the Courts: How Judicial Confirmation Battles Shape America
    - The Presidential Transition
  • Leadership Issues