Kiron Skinner Tapped For Key State Department Post

Monday, September 10, 2018
Hoover Institution, Stanford University

Kiron Skinner was recently named US Department of State's new Senior Policy Advisor to the Secretary of State and Director of Policy Planning.

Skinner, the W. Glenn Campbell Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution, began her new job on September 4. She leads the State Department’s in-house think tank that strategizes how the department will address long-term challenges and advance the Trump administration’s foreign policy agenda.

Tom Gilligan said, “Kiron’s vast experience and knowledge make her the perfect person for the role of providing policy ideas and solutions to the secretary and the president on national security issues. We wish her well as she takes on these challenges in service to our country.”

Skinner came to Hoover in 1990 to serve as the principal research assistant for former Secretary of State and Hoover Fellow George Shultz’s memoir. She returned in 1995 as a visiting scholar, was appointed a research fellow in 1996, and was named the W. Glenn Campbell Research Fellow in 1999. She will take a leave of absence from Hoover to serve at the State Department. 

Skinner has also worked with former Secretary of State and Hoover Fellow Condoleezza Rice. “Kiron Skinner will bring creativity, intellect and leadership to the role of Director of Policy Planning. Secretary Pompeo has made an excellent choice to lead this organization at a crucial time for American foreign policy,” Rice said.

Shultz said, “As I have interacted with her and seen her at work, she is a real strategic thinker.”

In a Wall Street Journal article, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described Skinner as “a national security powerhouse” and “a one-woman, strategic thinking tour de force.” He noted, “I’m confident that she will enhance our influence overseas, protect the American people, and promote our prosperity.”

Earlier in her career, Skinner served on the Defense Department’s Defense Policy Board, and was a foreign policy surrogate to the Bush-Cheney reelection campaign in 2004. She served on Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett’s Advisory Commission on African American Affairs from 2012 to 2015.

At Hoover, Skinner was a member of the Working Group on the Role of Military History in Contemporary Conflict, the Energy Policy Task Force, and Arctic Security Working Group. She is also the director of the Institute for Politics and Strategy at Carnegie Mellon University.

In her interview with the Wall Street Journal, Skinner indicated support for a foreign policy approach in which the United States exercises global leadership while simultaneously sharing the burdens of world crises with other countries. She said she believes the Trump administration can craft a longer-term approach and grand strategy. She said she plans to base her work going forward on the administration’s national-security strategy that was published in December 2017, updating it where necessary.

Skinner has written numerous opinion essays for major publications, and is the author or co-author of the following books: Reagan, In His Own Hand: The Writings of Ronald Reagan that Reveal His Revolutionary Vision for America (2001), Reagan: A Life in Letters (2003), The Strategy of Campaigning: Lessons from Ronald Reagan and Boris Yeltsin (2008), and Turning Points in Ending the Cold War (Hoover Press, 2007).

Skinner holds MA and PhD. degrees in political science and international relations from Harvard University. She was born in Chicago and grew up in Northern California.