Kiron K. Skinner

W. Glenn Campbell Research Fellow

Kiron K. Skinner is the W. Glenn Campbell Research Fellow. Her areas of expertise are international relations, international security, US foreign policy, and political strategy. Skinner participates in numerous Hoover Institution projects, including the Shultz-Stephenson Task Force on Energy Policy and the working group on the Role of Military History in Contemporary Conflict. At Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), she is the Taube Professor of International Relations and Politics as well as the founding director of these academic entities: Carnegie Mellon University Washington Semester Program; Center for International Relations and Politics; Institute for Politics and Strategy; and Institute for Strategic Analysis. In addition, Skinner is a Distinguished Fellow at CyLab, a cyber-oriented research center associated with the College of Engineering, and she 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.

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 was serialized in the New York Times Magazine on December 31, 2000, and won the Hoover Institution’s Uncommon Book Award in 2002. 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 New York Times’ opinion page 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 has been a Fox News contributor, appearing on both Fox News and Fox Business. She also regularly provides scholarly commentary on national and international television and radio programs.

Skinner is the editor of a new Palgrave Macmillan series on American political ideology. In this capacity, she is writing the launch book for the series on the war debate in the United States during the first half of the twentieth century.

From September 2018 to August 2019, Skinner served as Director of the Office of Policy Planning and Senior Policy Adviser to the Secretary of State at the US Department of State. In those roles, she reengaged the department in red-team exercises on regional conflicts, began developing State-Defense Department ties in critical areas, and fostered transatlantic partnerships through numerous strategic dialogues, including the first Policy Planners Summit for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. She played a central role in creating the Commission on Unalienable Rights and re-chartering the Foreign Affairs Policy Board, and she served as the Secretariat for both entities. 

Skinner’s government service also has included the following memberships: the US Defense Department’s Defense Policy Board (2001–07 and 2017-18); the Eisenhower Commission’s Legacy Committee of historians (2002-03); the Chief of Naval Operations’ (CNO) Executive Panel (2004–2015); 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. From 2012 to 2015, Skinner served on Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett’s Advisory Commission on African American Affairs.

In the arena of presidential campaigns, Skinner was 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.  She was a foreign policy adviser for Rand Paul during his presidential bid and a surrogate for the Donald Trump campaign in 2016. A member of the Trump transition team, she also served on the transition’s executive committee.

Skinner has served on the boards of the American Australian Council 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. She is a lifetime director on the board of the Atlantic Council of the United States in Washington, DC. 

Among Skinner’s numerous awards include 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 the Kennedy Middle School Hall of Fame (Redwood City, California, 2005).

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


Kiron Skinner: Judge Amy Coney Barrett Represents The Diversity Of America

interview with Kiron K. Skinnervia Fox Business
Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Hoover Institution fellow Kiron Skinner talks about Judge Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court nomination hearings.


Kiron Skinner: Should Next Presidential Debate Moderator Be Able To Mute Candidates?

interview with Kiron K. Skinnervia Yahoo
Thursday, October 1, 2020

Hoover Institution fellow Kiron Skinner argues the next presidential debate should likely have format and rule changes because these candidates were ‘very aggressive’ while discussing America’s most difficult issues.


The US Senate Has A ‘Responsibility’ To Fill SCOTUS Seat: Kiron Skinner

interview with Kiron K. Skinnervia Yahoo Finance
Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Hoover Institution fellow Kiron Skinner discusses the responsibility of the senate to pick the next justice of the Supreme Court.


Kiron Skinner: Biden Quiet On Foreign Policy Amid Trump Middle East Peace Successes

interview with Kiron K. Skinnervia Fox
Wednesday, September 16, 2020
Hoover Institution fellow Kiron Skinner discusses the Trump administration’s Middle East peace deals.

Kiron Skinner: What Arab-Israel Agreements Mean For Broader Middle East Peace

interview with Kiron K. Skinnervia Fox News
Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Hoover Institution fellow Kiron Skinner discusses the historic Middle East agreements and what they mean for peace in the Middle East.

Analysis and Commentary

Arab Unity In The Middle East Can Be A Barrier To Iran’s Regional Goals

by Alma Keshavarz, Kiron K. Skinnervia The National Interest
Monday, September 14, 2020

Iraq struggled to find opportunities to expel Iranian influence, until Mustafa al-Khadimi. Since taking office in May 2020, al-Khadimi has shown promise in engaging with the United States on foreign policy issues, particularly on Iran.

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The Future Of Foreign Policy And Alliances

interview with Rand Paul, Kiron K. Skinnervia Fellow Talks
Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Senator Rand Paul and Hoover Institution fellow Kiron Skinner discuss The Future of Foreign Policy and Alliances.


The Belarus Uprising: A Repeat Of Ukraine?

by Russell A. Berman, Kiron K. Skinnervia National Interest
Monday, September 7, 2020

The United States should be prepared to act if Putin tries to repeat in Belarus what he did in Ukraine.


Kiron Skinner: Will ‘Silent Majority’ Help Get Trump Reelected?

interview with Kiron K. Skinnervia Yahoo! Finance
Friday, September 4, 2020

Hoover Institution fellow Kiron Skinner discusses the tightening presidential race and why she expects to see the president get reelected.

Analysis and Commentary

Why Donald Trump Needs A Supportive State Department

by James Jay Carafano, Kiron K. Skinnervia The National Interest
Friday, August 28, 2020

The State Department has scores of talented career officials and political appointees, but it is not enough. Any successful future diplomacy, by this or another administration, will require both greater support from within the State Department and greater interagency backing.