Meet the scholars

Meet the scholars

The people behind the Project on Democracy and Capitalism

Academic Directors

Michael Lenox

Michael J. Lenox is a senior faculty fellowMike Lenox at the University  of Virginia's Miller Center, where he serves as academic co-director of the Project on Democracy and Capitalism. His primary appointment is as the Tayloe Murphy Professor of Business Administration at the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia. From 2016 to 2023, served as the Senior Associate Dean and Chief Strategy Officer for the school. From 2008-2016, he served as Associate Dean of Innovation Programs and Academic Director of Darden's Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Before arriving at UVA in 2008, Lenox served as a tenured associate professor at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business and as an assistant professor at New York University's Stern School of Business. He has been a visiting professor at Stanford University, Harvard University, Oxford University and IMD. He received his Ph.D. in Technology Management and Policy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the degrees of Bachelor and Master of Science in Systems Engineering from UVA. 

Lenox's research has appeared in over thirty refereed academic publications and has been cited in dozens of media outlets including The New York Times, the Financial Times, and The Economist. He is the author of five books including his 2023 release, "Strategy in the Digital Age" from Stanford University Press. Since 2021, he has been the co-host of the podcast, "Good Disruption." In 2009, he was recognized as a Faculty Pioneer by the Aspen Institute and as the top strategy professor under 40 by the Strategic Management Society. In 2011, he was named one of the top 40 business professors under 40 by Poets & Quants. 

Lenox's primary expertise is in the domain of technology strategy and policy. He is broadly interested in the role of innovation and entrepreneurship for economic growth and firm competitive success. In particular, he explores the business strategy and public policy drivers of the direction of innovative activity. Lenox also has a long-standing interest in the interface between business strategy and public policy as it relates to the natural environment. Recent work includes books "Can Business Save the Earth" (2018) and "The Decarbonization Imperative" (2021) both from Stanford University Press. 

Sidney Milkis

Sidney M. Milkis is the White BurkettSid Milkis Miller Professor in the Department of Politics and the director of the Honors Politics Program. He is also a faculty senior fellow at the Miller Center, where he is co-director of the Democracy and Capitalism Project. He has a BA from Muhlenberg College and a PhD in Political Science from the University of Pennsylvania. He was awarded the Cavaliers' Distinguished Teaching Professorship for 2018-2020, the highest teaching award at the University of Virginia, which recognizes an eminent scholar for outstanding undergraduate teaching. In 2016-2017, he was named the John G. Winant Visiting Professor of American Government at Oxford University. His research focuses on the American Presidency, its relationship to political parties and social movements, and the deep historical roots of contemporary developments in American democracy.

Milkis' books include: The President and the Parties: The Transformation of the American Party System Since the New Deal (1993); Political Parties and Constitutional Government: Remaking American Democracy (1999); Presidential Greatness (2000), coauthored with Marc Landy; The American Presidency: Origins and Development, 1776-2021 (2022), 9th edition, coauthored with Michael Nelson; Theodore Roosevelt, the Progressive Party, and the Transformation of American Democracy (2009); Rivalry and Reform: Presidents, Social Movements and the Transformation of American Politics (2019), which won a Choice Outstanding Title Award; and most recently, What Happened to the Vital Center: Presidentialism, Populist Revolt, and the Fracturing of America (2022), coauthored with Nicholas Jacobs. He is the co-editor, with Jerome Mileur, of three volumes on twentieth century political reform: Progressivism and the New Democracy (1999); The New Deal and the Triumph of Liberalism (2002); and The Great Society and the High Tide of Liberalism (2005). His articles on American government and political history have appeared in Perspectives on Politics, Political Science Quarterly, Studies in American Political Development, PS: Political Science and Politics, the Journal of Policy History, Antitrust Law Journal, Presidential Studies Quarterly, Journal of Supreme Court History, American Political Thought and several highly regarded edited volumes. He is currently finishing a book on Donald Trump and the American Presidency.

Margaret Foster Riley

Margaret Foster Riley headshot

Margaret Foster Riley, Dorothy Danforth Compton Professor at the Miller Center, is a professor of law at UVA Law School, professor of public health sciences at the UVA School of Medicine, and professor of public policy at the University’s Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. She also directs the Animal Law Program at the law school.

A scholar working in the intersection of law, regulation, policy, and ethics in the Life Sciences, Riley has written and presented extensively about health care law, biomedical research, genetics, food and drug regulation, reproductive technologies, human and animal biotechnology, and public health. She is currently a member of the NIH NExTRAC, a FACA committee that advises the NIH Director on issues concerning emerging biotechnologies. She served on five National Academies committees and has advised numerous state and federal agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration; the Environment Protection Agency; the Department of Defense; committees of the National Institutes of Health, the national Science Foundation, the Virginia Department of Health; and the Virginia Bar. She is currently a member of the CAPRI International Advisory Board and is a past board member of the Food and Drug Law Institute.

Prior to her academic career, Riley was an associate at Rogers & Wells, a law firm in New York, and at Pepper, Hamilton & Scheetz, a law firm in Philadelphia. From 2017-2019, she served as the faculty member of the University of Virginia’s Board of Visitors.

Riley earned her law degree from Columbia University and her BA from Duke University.

Project Director

Scott Miller

Scott Miller

Scott Miller is an assistant professor at the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business and Assistant Professor and Director of the Project on Democracy & Capitalism at the Miller Center. Holding MAs from George Mason University (2013) and the University of Virginia (2015), Miller received his PhD in American economic and business history from UVA in 2018. Before returning to UVA in May 2021, Miller served as a postdoctoral fellow in economic and business history at the Yale School of Management's International Center for Finance. 

Miller has received over a dozen fellowships and grants, including awards from the Economic History Association, Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon, Harvard Business School, the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University, and the Bankard Fund for Political Economy. He studies historical economic development and is finishing his manuscript “Developing Economy, Emerging Republic: Crisis, Opportunity, and the Struggle for American Economic Power, 1765–1812” for the University of Chicago Press.


Melody Barnes

Melody Barnes headshot

Melody Barnes is executive director of the UVA Karsh Institute of Democracy and co-director for policy and public affairs for the Democracy Initiative, an interdisciplinary teaching, research, and engagement effort led by the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences at the University of Virginia. She is the J. Wilson Newman Professor of Governance at the Miller Center and is also a distinguished fellow at the UVA School of Law. A co-founder of the domestic strategy firm MB2 Solutions LLC, Barnes has spent more than 25 years crafting public policy on a wide range of domestic issues. 

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.

Robert Bruner

Bob Bruner headshot

Robert Bruner taught at the Darden Business School for 41 years (1982-2023) and served as University Professor at the University of Virginia, Distinguished Professor of Business Administration, the eighth Dean of the Darden Graduate Business School, and Compton Visiting Professor in World Politics at the Miller Center of Public Affairs. He also held visiting appointments at Harvard and Columbia Universities in the United States, INSEAD in France, and IESE in Spain. 

His publications include some 25 books, 350 case studies and technical notes, and 50 articles in professional and academic journals. His research and writing have covered a wide range of topics in finance and management including financial crises, corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions, financial distress, democracy, capitalism, and presidential leadership. His books The Panic of 1907 (2007, 2023) written with Sean Carr and Deals from Hell (2005), drew critical praise in national and international media. 

Bruner received the Doctor of Business Administration degree with a concentration in finance from Harvard University in 1982, the MBA from Harvard in 1974, and the Bachelor of Arts with Honors in Political Science from Yale University in 1971. His reflections on finance, public affairs, and higher education may be found at his blog, and on Social Science Research Network, Twitter, ResearchGate, and LinkedIn