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: Secretary Of State Mike Pompeo Breaks With Convention, Defends Trump Foreign Policy At RNC

interview with Kiron K. Skinnervia Fox News
Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Hoover Institution fellow Kiron Skinner discusses President Trump's foreign policy and how it has made the United States safer.


Kiron Skinner: Should Trump Address Wisconsin Protests?

interview with Kiron K. Skinnervia Fox Business
Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Hoover Institution fellow Kiron Skinner argues that the Republican National Convention establishes a strong foundation for President Trump to directly address the Kenosha, Wisconsin, protests, especially the violence.


Kiron Skinner: How Will Racial Tensions Impact The Race For The White House?

interview with Kiron K. Skinnervia Fox News
Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Hoover Institution fellow Kiron Skinner talks about the protests in Wisconsin, as well as Senator Tim Scott's message of hope at the Republican National Convention, and how racial tensions will impact the presidential race.

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Is Belarus Destined To Become The Next Crimea?

by Kiron K. Skinnervia National Interest
Friday, August 21, 2020

Putin may be emboldened by the perception of a West greatly divided and distracted. He sees the U.S. distracted with domestic politics and COVID. How should Donald Trump and the west respond?


Kiron Skinner: Israel-UAE Peace Deal May Cripple Iran's Influence Over Region

interview with Kiron K. Skinnervia Fox News
Friday, August 14, 2020
Hoover Institution fellow Kiron Skinner talks about the significance of the Israel-UAE peace deal.

Hertog Conversations With Kiron Skinner

interview with Kiron K. Skinnervia Hertog Foundation
Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Hoover Institution fellow Kiron Skinner discusses President Trump’s foreign policy and her own experiences in government service.


Kiron Skinner: Civics As A National Security Imperative: Addressing Racial Injustice

interview with Kiron K. Skinnervia Center for Strategic & International Studies
Thursday, July 2, 2020

Hoover Institution fellow Kiron Skinner discusses racism in the U.S., tragically evidenced by the killings of Black men and women at the hands of police and reflected in the disparate impact of Covid-19 on people of color, and why these issues should be addressed as a fundamental issue of human rights, but also as national security issues, and how we can empower civic engagement through revitalized civics education in addressing it.


Kiron Skinner: Klobuchar Withdraws Name From Biden VP Consideration, Says Woman Of Color Should Be On Ticket

interview with Kiron K. Skinnervia Fox News
Monday, June 22, 2020

Hoover Institution fellow Kiron Skinner discusses who Joe Biden might pick for his running mate and vice presidential candidate, and notes that Biden needs to pick someone who will solidify and expand Biden's base.


Kiron Skinner: John Bolton Hit From Both Sides Of Aisle Over Tell-all Book

interview with Kiron K. Skinnervia Fox News
Thursday, June 18, 2020
Hoover Institution fellow Kiron Skinner discusses John Bolton's book and the possible reasons for its recent release.
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Kiron Skinner: Projecting The Future Of U.S. Foreign Policy | Hoover Virtual Policy Briefing

interview with Kiron K. Skinnervia Hoover Podcasts
Thursday, June 11, 2020

Kiron Skinner Talks About Projecting The Future Of U.S. Foreign Policy.