Melody Barnes, one of a handful of high-profile women in the White House, will leave her post as President Obama’s domestic policy advisor at the end of the year, two senior administration officials confirmed.
Jen Psaki, who had been the White House’s deputy communications director, left last month to join a top Democratic research firm.
In the Obama White House, Barnes was the point person for domestic policy as the administration pushed through major initiatives on health care and moved to overhaul nutrition and education standards.
Barnes was also the first woman to join an Obama golf game after complaints about the all-boys outings.
In a statement to POLITICO, she said she planned to help Obama get a second term, though she wanted to leave the White House to spend more time with her family and explore private sector opportunities.
Barnes joined the campaign of then-Sen. Obama after working a stint at the Center for American Progress. She also advised the late Sen. Ted Kennedy on civil rights and women’s issues.
Obama told POLITICO:
“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.”
Thursday Barnes and senior White House advisor Valerie Jarrett discussed the American Jobs Act and the administration’s anti-poverty initiatives in a session hosted by TheRoot.com
Jarrett talked about what Barnes brought to her role as Obama’s domestic policy guru.
“Not only is her depth and breath and understanding of the policy issues second to none, more important than that is her drive, her passion and her willingness to work 24-7,” said Valerie Jarrett, a senior White House advisor. “She is the consummate public servant. ... If I go much further, I’m going to start crying.”