Executive Director - Karsh Institute of Democracy
W.L. Lyons Brown Family Director for Policy and Public Engagement - Democracy Initiative
In addition to her roles with the Karsh Institute and the Democracy Initiative, Melody Barnes is the J. Wilson Newman Professor of Governance at the Miller Center of Public Affairs and is also a senior fellow at the Karsh Center for Law & Democracy and affiliated faculty member at the School of Law.
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 Senator Edward M. Kennedy 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 began her career as an attorney with Shearman & Sterling in New York City.
Barnes earned her BA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she graduated with honors in history, and her JD from the University of Michigan. She serves on the boards of directors of several corporate, non-profit, and philanthropic organizations.