Working at the White House is not for the faint of heart. Witness how quickly most presidents’ heads turn gray in the first few years in office. It’s also a grind for those who serve the commander-in-chief, so it’s not unusual to see a wave of departures toward the end of a first term.
But the news that White House domestic policy adviser Melody Barnes is leaving her post at the end of the year took many by surprise. Barnes, who also heads the Domestic Policy Council, says she wants to spend more time with her family and will also be looking at opportunities in the private sector.
“Working in the White House for President Obama and serving the American people has been an honor and the opportunity of a lifetime. But over the last several months, I’ve reached the conclusion that I need to move out of a 24/7 work schedule and on to the next phase of my life,” Barnes said in a statement to BET.com. “I’m very proud that I’ve been able to work side-by-side with the president and his team driving an innovation and reform agenda to create greater opportunity for all Americans.”
In a statement, Obama said, “I will always be grateful that a woman of Melody’s brilliance, creativity and heart led our domestic policy team during such a challenging time for our nation. Melody has 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.”
Barnes previously served as the senior domestic policy advisor to Obama’s presidential campaign, after a stint as executive vice president for policy at the Center for American Progress. She also worked for several years as chief counsel to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Barnes won’t be breaking all ties with the administration, however, and says that she plans to do “everything I can to ensure that President Obama is re-elected.”
(Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)