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.

Filter By:



Recent Commentary

InterviewsNational Security

Kiron Skinner: North Korea Fails To Deliver ‘Christmas Surprise'

interview with Kiron K. Skinnervia Fox Business
Thursday, December 26, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Kiron Skinner shares her insights on U.S.-North Korea relations.

Hong Kong Umbrella Revolution Collection, Box 2, Hoover Institution Archives
InterviewsNational Security

Kiron Skinner: Protests In Hong Kong And Iran Present Challenges For Trump Administration

interview with Kiron K. Skinnervia Fox News
Saturday, November 23, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Kiron Skinner discusses the challenges confronting President Trump concerning Hong Kong  and Iran.

Analysis and Commentary

Time To Rekindle The Tradition Of Mutual Support

by Paul Packer, Kiron K. Skinnervia The Jerusalem Post
Wednesday, November 20, 2019

These survivors were stunned to find a whole race of people treated as second-class citizens in the United States, the country that had ensured the survival of the Jewish people.

In the News

Kiron K. Skinner Joined FOX News Channel As A Contributor

featuring Kiron K. Skinnervia Fox News
Friday, November 1, 2019

Kiron K. Skinner joined FOX News Channel as a contributor in October 2019 and provides commentary on national and international issues across FOX News Media platforms. Prior to rejoining the network Skinner served as Director of the Office of Policy Planning and Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State at the United States Department of State.


Kiron Skinner: What Issues Should President Trump Highlight To UN General Assembly?

interview with Kiron K. Skinnervia Fox News
Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Kiron Skinner discusses some of the issues she thinks President Trump should address in his speech to the UN General Assembly. Skinner notes that 'America First' does not mean the US is not deeply engaged with the world.

Blank Section (Placeholder)Featured

"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.