Melody Barnes


Melody Barnes, the former director of the White House Domestic Policy Council under President Obama, joined the Marguerite Casey Board of Directors in May 2012. Ms. Barnes was also former chief counsel to the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and was executive vice president for policy for the Center for American Progress. She will serve on the Board’s Governance Committee and the Finance and Investment Committee.

Ms. Barnes played a key role in crafting and negotiating with Congress on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act; President Obama’s signature education reform initiative, Race to the Top; worked closely with private sector partners to drive math and science resources to school districts nationwide; served as a chief White House negotiator with Congress and secured critical higher education reforms, including higher education finance.

As Kennedy’s chief counsel, Ms. Barnes shaped civil rights, women’s health and reproductive rights, commercial law, and religious liberties laws, as well as executive branch and judicial appointments.

Barnes, a Richmond, Virginia native, began her career as an attorney with Shearman & Sterling in New York City and is a member of both the New York State Bar Association and the District of Columbia Bar Association. She is a member of the Board of Directors of The Constitution Project, EMILY’s List, and The Maya Angelou Public Charter School. She received her law degree from the University of Michigan and her bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.