Kiron K. Skinner

W. Glenn Campbell Research Fellow

Kiron K. Skinner is currently on leave from the Hoover Institution to serve at the U.S. Department of State as Senior Policy Advisor to the Secretary of State and Director of Policy Planning. 

Skinner is the W. Glenn Campbell Research Fellow and has participated in three important Hoover Institution projects: the Shultz-Stephenson Task Force on Energy Policy; the working group on the Role of Military History in Contemporary Conflict; and the Arctic Security Initiative. At Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), she is founding director of the Center for International Relations and Politics; founding director of the Institute for Strategic Analysis; director of the Institute for Politics and Strategy, a new academic unit in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences; director of the Carnegie Mellon University Washington Semester Program; and Taube Professor of International Relations and Politics at CMU. In addition, Skinner is a Distinguished Fellow at CyLab, a cyber-oriented research center associated with the College of Engineering, and holds courtesy faculty positions at CMU’s Heinz College and the Institute for Software Research, an academic department in the School of Computer Science. She has also taught political science courses at Hamilton College, Harvard University, and the University of California, Los Angeles. Her areas of expertise are international relations, international security, US foreign policy, and political strategy.

Professor Skinner is an award-winning and best-selling author. Her coauthored books Reagan, In His Own Hand (2001) and Reagan, A Life in Letters (2003) were New York Times best sellers. Reagan, In His Own Hand won the Hoover Institution’s Uncommon Book Award and was serialized in the New York Times Magazine on December 31, 2000. Reagan, A Life in Letters was selected as one of the best books of 2003 by the Los Angeles Times, was Time magazine’s cover story on September 29, 2003, and was the subject of a September 29, 2003, editorial written by the New York Times editorial board. The Strategy of Campaigning: Lessons from Ronald Reagan and Boris Yeltsin (2007), a book Skinner coauthored with Serhiy Kudelia, Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, and Condoleezza Rice, was excerpted on the opinion page of the New York Times on September 15, 2007. A frequent contributor of opinion essays, Skinner has written for,, Foreign, National Review Online, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal. Skinner is a Fox News contributor and appears on both Fox News and Fox Business. She also regularly provides scholarly commentary on national and international television and radio programs.

Among Skinner’s numerous awards are the Truman Scholarship for the State of California (1979); Glamour magazine’s Top Ten College Competition for Women (1981); Harvard University’s Sidney Matz Prize for excellence in advising undergraduates (1989); Delegate to the Bellagio “New Faces” Conference sponsored by the Arms Control Association and the International Institute for Strategic Studies (1989); University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellow (1996-98); Olin Foundation Faculty Fellowship (1999-2001 and 2001-2002); BMW Transatlantic Forum Fellow (US and Germany, 2004 and 2005); and Kennedy Middle School Hall of Fame (Redwood City, California, 2005).

Professor Skinner’s government service includes membership on the US Defense Department’s Defense Policy Board as an adviser on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars (2001–07);  the Eisenhower Commission’s Legacy Committee of historians (2002-03); the Chief of Naval Operations’ (CNO) Executive Panel (2004–present); the National Academies’ Committee on Behavioral and Social Science Research to Improve Intelligence Analysis for National Security (2009–11); and the National Security Education Board (2004–11). In 2010, Skinner was appointed to the advisory board of the George W. Bush Oral History Project. She served as a foreign policy surrogate for the Bush-Cheney reelection campaign in 2004, a senior foreign policy adviser in 2011-12 to Speaker Newt Gingrich during his presidential campaign, and a senior foreign policy surrogate in the fall of 2012 to the Governor Mitt Romney for President campaign. Professor Skinner served on Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett’s Advisory Commission on African American Affairs from 2012 to 2015.

Skinner serves on the boards of the American Australian Education Leadership Foundation in Washington, DC; the Atlantic Council of the United States in Washington, DC; Grove City College in Grove City, PA; Propel Schools in the Pittsburgh area; and Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA. She is a life member of the Pacific Council on International Policy in Los Angeles and the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City.

Professor Skinner holds MA and PhD degrees in political science and international relations from Harvard University and undergraduate degrees from Spelman College and Sacramento City College. She received an honorary doctor of laws degree from Molloy College, Long Island.

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Recent Commentary

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"America First" Then And Now

by Kiron K. Skinnervia Defining Ideas
Thursday, May 11, 2017

A political movement during World War II that would have been disastrous for the West.


For U.S. Defense, Technological Change Compels New Strategy

by Kiron K. Skinnervia Pacific Council on International Policy
Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Two broad sets of U.S. military strategies during the second half of the twentieth century combined ideas, innovation, and technology in ways that offset Soviet conventional (and later nuclear) superiority in arms and military forces. These strategies also contributed to the overall state of cold war, as opposed to hot war, between the two superpowers.

Featured CommentaryFeatured

Moving Forward: The Need For Innovations In Technology And Strategy

by Kiron K. Skinnervia Strategika
Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Two broad sets of U.S. military strategies during the second half of the twentieth century combined ideas, innovation, and technology in ways that offset Soviet conventional (and later nuclear) superiority in arms and military forces. These strategies also contributed to the overall state of cold war, as opposed to hot war, between the two superpowers. Today, the Pentagon is hard at work on a framework to achieve military dominance over a far more diverse set of adversaries. 

Analysis and Commentary

Critical Theory Of The Contemporary: Election 2016, Environmental Nationalism, And Palestinian Shame

by Russell A. Berman, Kiron K. Skinnervia Telos
Wednesday, December 21, 2016

After a rancorous and ugly presidential campaign, in which vitriol and name-calling replaced discussion and policy, one moment stands out for its dignity: President Obama’s grace and generosity when he welcomed the president-elect to the White House.


The Beginnings Of A Trump Doctrine

by Kiron K. Skinnervia Forbes
Tuesday, May 24, 2016

According to the foreign-policy chattering class, Donald Trump is a purveyor of dangerous rhetoric and ideas, his statements are inconsistent, and he would lead the United States and the world into global chaos.

Firing Line Broadcast Records, S0873, Hoover Institution Archives
Analysis and Commentary

Reagan as History

by Kiron K. Skinnervia The American Interest
Monday, January 25, 2016

[Subscription Required] Ronald Reagan’s role as one of the luminaries of the 20th century was secured by his success in putting policies in place that shaped the new millennium. Born on February 6, 1911, he died at the age of 93 on June 5, 2004.

Background EssayFeatured

Missile Defense: Past, Present, And Future

by Kiron K. Skinnervia Strategika
Friday, October 30, 2015

A new era of modern warfare began when German V-2 missiles hit London in September 1944. Within the next few years, the U.S. military was issuing reports on how to proceed in the development of defensive counters to ballistic missiles.


What Bill O’Reilly’s New Book On Ronald Reagan Gets Wrong About Ronald Reagan

by Craig Shirley, Kiron K. Skinner, Paul Kengor, Steven Haywardvia The Washington Post
Friday, October 16, 2015

Bad sources and old misconceptions persist in "Killing Reagan."

Analysis and Commentary

Five Questions With Kiron Skinner On Rand Paul, Reagan, And The GOP Race

by Kiron K. Skinner, John Amblevia War on the Rocks
Thursday, September 17, 2015

This is a very special #NatSec2016 edition of our 5 Questions series. I had a chance to speak with Kiron Skinner, the director of the Institute of Politics and Strategy at Carnegie Mellon University and a foreign policy adviser to Sen. Rand Paul’s presidential campaign.

In the News

Carnegie Mellon’s Dietrich College To Create New Institute For Politics And Strategy

by Kiron K. Skinnervia Carnegie Mellon News
Thursday, April 2, 2015

Carnegie Mellon University’s Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences will open a new Institute for Politics and Strategy (IPS), effective July 1.