Media Highlights

Former White House Policy Advisors Join Opportunity Nation

by Opportunity Nation   •  


July 19, 2012


Christopher Cashman, 212-804-6370


Chief Policy Advisors to Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush join bipartisan campaign to help rebuild the economic ladder of success in America

At a time when partisanship seems to have stalled progress on virtually every significant challenge facing America, Opportunity Nation announced today that former Director of the Obama Administration’s Domestic Policy Council, Melody Barnes will join John Bridgeland, former Director of Domestic Policy for President George W. Bush as members of the Opportunity Nation Leadership Council.

“The future should be determined by hard work and the passion to succeed, not a child’s zip code at time of birth,” Melody Barnes said on her appointment. “I’m thrilled to be joining Opportunity Nation and working with John and other distinguished leaders to ensure that the American Dream is available to every man, woman, and child in our country.”

“There is a widening opportunity gap in America that is inconsistent with our nation’s ideals,” said John Bridgeland. “Unless we create a better educational pipeline and training for good jobs, we will continue to lack qualified workers who can both meet the demands of our economy and support strong families and communities. There is growing bipartisan will to create a true Opportunity Nation for all and I am excited to work with Melody and the rest of the team to develop new, innovative, and bipartisan ideas to do just that.”

Opportunity Nation is working to forge set of bipartisan policy proposals that governments at every level and political persuasion can use to provide their constituents with a greater ability to climb the economic ladder of success.

“We are delighted that two of the brightest minds from both sides of the political divide have decided to come together to tackle this key issue,” said Mark Edwards, executive director of Opportunity Nation. “The American Dream has never and should never be a partisan one.”

This September, Opportunity Nation will host its second national Summit to shine a spotlight on one of the earliest and most critical rungs on the ladder of opportunity: ensuring that the rising generation is equipped with the skills needed to compete in the current and future economies. The campaign will release a bold set of bipartisan, pragmatic ideas that illuminate pathways to success beyond just a four- year degree, including those that link education to work.

The September Summit will also serve as a platform for businesses to share actions they have taken over the past year to deepen their commitments to the 21st century American workforce, and for leading elected officials from across the political spectrum to share their plans to create communities of opportunity across the country.

To learn more about Opportunity Nation, the September Summit, and the steps they are taking to develop a shared plan to close the skills gap and restore opportunity in America, please visit

About Melody C. Barnes

Melody Barnes is CEO of Melody Barnes Solutions LLC, a domestic strategy firm, and Vice Provost for Global Student Leadership Initiatives and Senior Fellow at the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service at New York University. Ms. Barnes also serves as a Senior Director at the Albright Stonebridge Group, a global strategy firm; Chair of the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions; and on the Board of Directors of the Marguerite Casey Foundation. From January 2009 until January 2012, she was Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council.

As Director of the Domestic Policy Council, Ms. Barnes provided strategic advice to President Obama and worked closely with members of the Cabinet coordinating the domestic policy agenda across the Administration. Under her leadership, innovative new policies, practices and partnerships were initiated to address significant national challenges, including education, health care and the federal government’s relationship with local governments and communities.

Until July 2008, Ms. Barnes was the Executive Vice President for Policy at the Center for American Progress, a progressive research institute and think tank. From December 1995 until March 2003, Ms. Barnes worked for Senator Edward M. Kennedy on the Senate Judiciary Committee; she served as his chief counsel from 1998 until she left the Committee in 2003. Barnes’ experience also includes an appointment as Director of Legislative Affairs for the U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and serving as a Principal at the D.C.-based consulting firm, The Raben Group. Ms. Barnes began her career as an attorney with Shearman & Sterling in New York City.

Ms. Barnes received her law degree from the University of Michigan in 1989. In 1986, she received her bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she graduated with honors in history.

About John Bridgeland

John Bridgeland is CEO of Civic Enterprises, a public policy firm in Washington, D.C. He also is the author of the recently-released book, Heart of the Nation: 9/11 and America’s Civic Spirit. Formerly, Bridgeland served as Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council

under President George W. Bush, and then as Assistant to the President of the United States and first Director of the USA Freedom Corps, where he coordinated policy on international, national, and community service in the aftermath of 9/11. In 2010, Bridgeland was appointed by President Barack Obama to the White House Council for Community Solutions.

Bridgeland also was a co-convener of ServiceNation, a Presidential forum with Senators Barack Obama and John McCain on September 11, 2008, and a national summit that showcased a 10-point plan to increase community, national and international
service opportunities. The plan was included in the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, which was signed into law within the first 100 days of the Obama Administration. For his work in promoting the national service agenda, Bridgeland was selected a NonProfit Times Executive of the Year.

Bridgeland graduated with honors in government from Harvard University, studied at the College of Europe and Universite Libre de Bruxelles as a Rotary International Fellow, and received his J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law. He has honorary degrees from Saint Anselm College, Hamline University, and Ripon College, where he delivered the commencement addresses.


Opportunity Nation is a broad coalition of more than 200 businesses, non-profits, corporate partners, faith-based organizations, educational institutions, and civic organizations focused on closing the opportunity gap in America. The campaign has created a shared agenda of bipartisan policy proposals and private sector innovations to increase opportunity, economic mobility, and access to the American Dream. For more information please visit and check us out on Twitter @OppNation and on Facebook at OpportunityNation. 

Opportunity Nation Opportunity Nation is a bipartisan, national campaign comprised of more than 350 cross-sector organizations working together to expand economic mobility and close the opportunity gap in America. Opportunity Nation envisions the United States as a nation where everyone – regardless of where they were born – has equal access to opportunity, economic mobility, and success at all stages of life.

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