Melody Barnes

Melody C. Barnes

Senior Fellow, Karsh Center for Law and Democracy
Executive Director, UVA Karsh Institute of Democracy
J. Wilson Newman Professor of Governance, Miller Center of Public Affairs

Melody Barnes is the executive director of UVA’s Karsh Institute of Democracy and J. Wilson Newman Professor of Governance at the Miller Center of Public Affairs. She is also a senior fellow at UVA Law’s Karsh Center for Law and Democracy. She serves on the board of trustees of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, the private, nonprofit organization that owns and operates Monticello.

During the administration of President Barack Obama, Barnes was assistant to the president and director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. She was also executive vice president for policy at the Center for American Progress and chief counsel to the late U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy ’59 on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Her experience 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 co-founded the domestic strategy firm MB2 Solutions LLC and began her career as an attorney with Shearman & Sterling in New York City.

Barnes earned her B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she graduated with honors in history, and her J.D. from the University of Michigan. She serves on the boards of directors of several corporate, nonprofit and philanthropic organizations.