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.

Filter By:



Recent Commentary

Related Commentary

Credible Leadership Should Seek More Than Containment

by Kiron K. Skinnervia Strategika
Tuesday, April 1, 2014

U.S. Cold War presidential directives coalesced around precepts that defense experts and foreign policy elites advocated: Mutual Assured Destruction (having enough nuclear retaliatory power so that the adversary would not risk a first strike); containing Soviet expansionism, especially in key industrial centers; nuclear arms control negotiations at all costs; the policy of linkage—tying U.S.-Soviet negotiations on one front to bilateral progress on other fronts; and preemptive concession making to demonstrate goodwill toward the Soviet Union.

Is Russia now an enemy, neutral, irrelevant to US strategic interests, or a poss

Russia, the United States, and the Middle East

by Kiron K. Skinnervia Strategika
Monday, November 25, 2013

Kiron Skinner discusses how the relationship between the United States and Russia bears on the future of foreign policy in the Middle East.

Poster Collection, RU/SU 2429 (OS),  Hoover Institution Archives
Featured Commentary

Russian Revival

by Kiron K. Skinnervia Strategika
Friday, November 1, 2013

At the height of the Cold War, the Soviet Union had military ties with Iraq, Libya, Syria, and South Yemen. President Anwar Sadat expelled thousands of Soviet troops and military advisers from Egypt in 1972 and turned to the United States for a strategic alliance. In 1979, the U.S.-brokered peace treaty between Egypt and Israel was signed; it marked the first time that an Arab country had recognized Israel.

Global Puzzle Pieces
Analysis and Commentary

Diplomacy Requires Trust Among Allies

by Kiron K. Skinnervia Room for Debate (New York Times)
Friday, October 25, 2013

If Washington undermines its own leadership or that of its allies, the collective ability of the West to combat terrorism will be compromised. By Kiron K. Skinner.

Analysis and Commentary

Protecting & Preserving the American Idea

by Kiron K. Skinnervia TribLive
Tuesday, October 1, 2013

It is a common belief that the main role of conservatives in U.S. national security during the second half of the 20th century was to ...

Analysis and Commentary

What ‘The Butler’ Gets Wrong About Ronald Reagan and Race

by Kiron K. Skinner, Steven Hayward, Paul Kengorvia Washington Post
Thursday, August 29, 2013

Four presidential historians say the film gets it wrong.

Analysis and Commentary

The Dream Today

by Kiron K. Skinnervia National Review Online
Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Fifty years after the March on Washington

Analysis and Commentary

Assessing The True Terror Threat

by Kiron K. Skinnervia TribLive
Friday, August 16, 2013

Immersed in a war against terrorism, the United States is in crisis because it has been unable to reach a consensus about the true nature ...

Hoover Archives Poster collection: US 2814
Featured Commentary

The Military's March to Equality

by Kiron K. Skinnervia Strategika
Saturday, June 1, 2013