Special event: Insights into the Obama administration

Former White House excecutive Ms Melody Barnes will speak at Griffith University on February 23
Former White House excecutive Ms Melody Barnes will speak at Griffith University on February 23

Former White House executive Ms Melody Barnes, who was just eight years old when she “launched” her political career selling cupcakes for George McGovern’s 1972 US presidential campaign, will be a guest of Griffith University in Brisbane next week.

Ms Barnes was appointed by President Barack Obama as Director of the White House’s Domestic Policy Council and held the role from 2009-2012. She is currently on a speaking tour of Australia.

A special event, A Conversation with Melody Barnes, Global view: Lessons from the Obama Administration, will be held on Tuesday, 23 February, from 6.30-7.30pm at the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University.

Born in Richmond, Virginia, Ms Barnes’ political engagement began early.

“I sold cupcakes for McGovern when I was eight. That’s kind of my earliest memory of being politically active in some way,” she said in an interview.

“But I think my interest in politics really comes out of my love for history.

“Even when I was little, I was always reading biographies and reading about historical figures who were involved in government, involved in shaping the nation.”

Ms Barnes played her own part in shaping the American nation during her time as Director of the Domestic Policy Council, the principal forum used by the US President for considering domestic policy matters, excluding economic matters.

As well as providing policy and strategic advice to President Obama, Ms Barnes worked closely with members of the Cabinet to coordinate the domestic policy agenda across the Administration.

Upon her departure from the role, President Obama said Ms Barnes had “left a lasting legacy, developing and implementing policies that have helped remake our education system, spurred innovation, and fostered opportunity and equality for millions of Americans”.

Ms Barnes received her law degree from the University of Michigan and her bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

She began her professional career as an attorney with New York-based multinational law firm Shearman & Sterling. She is a member of the New York State Bar Association, the District of Columbia Bar Association and is on the Board of Directors of The Constitution Project.

As assistant counsel to the United States House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties, Ms Barnes worked with Congress to pass the Voting Rights Improvement Act of 1992.

Then from 1995 to 2003, she served as chief counsel to Senator Edward M Kennedy on the Senate Judiciary Committee, having previously served as the Director of Legislative Affairs for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Ms Barnes is now chair of the Aspen Institute‘s Forum for Community Solutions and serves on the board of Ventas Inc, an S&P 500 company.

Please click here to register by Monday, 22 February, 2016.