Kiron K. Skinner

W. Glenn Campbell Research Fellow
Biography: 

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 CNN.com, Forbes.com, Foreign Policy.com, 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

Reagan, In His Own Voice

Reagan, In His Own Voice: Ronald Reagan’s Radio Addresses

via Simon & Schuster Audio
Thursday, November 1, 2001

Reagan In His Own Voice features Ronald Reagan's radio addresses from the late 1970s. Edited by Kiron K. Skinner, Annelise Anderson, and Martin Anderson, they are introduced by George Shultz and feature additional introductions by Nancy Reagan, Richard V. Allen, Judge William Clark, Michael Deaver, Peter Hannaford, Edwin Meese III and Harry O'Connor.

Reagan In His Own Hand

Reagan, In His Own Hand: The Writings of Ronald Reagan that Reveal His Revolutionary Vision for America

by Annelise Anderson, Martin Anderson, Kiron K. Skinnervia Free Press
Sunday, October 21, 2001

Hidden in the archives of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library for more than a decade, the writings contained in Reagan, In His Own Hand redefine the way we think about American history of the past quarter century and about the fortieth American president.

Stories in His Own Hand

Stories in His Own Hand: The Everyday Wisdom of Ronald Reagan

via Simon & Schuster
Tuesday, October 9, 2001

Ronald Reagan loved to tell stories. Sometimes he used them to break the ice, or to prove a point, but very often he used them to inspire, to uplift, and to remind his listeners of what matters most in life.

Reagan, in His Own Hand

by Martin Anderson, Annelise Anderson, Kiron K. Skinnervia Hoover Digest
Monday, April 30, 2001

From 1975 to 1979, Ronald Reagan wrote more than 600 radio addresses in his own hand, planning every plank in what would become his presidential platform. Herewith, a sampling of classic Reagan, compiled by Hoover fellows Kiron K. Skinner, Annelise Anderson, and Martin Anderson.

Reagan’s Plan

by Kiron K. Skinnervia Hoover Digest
Saturday, October 30, 1999

Albeit slowly and grudgingly, historians of the Cold War are finally beginning to acknowledge that one of the reasons our side finally triumphed was that we had . . . Ronald Reagan. By Hoover fellow Kiron Skinner.

The Myth of Democratic Pacifism

by Thomas Schwartz, Kiron K. Skinnervia Hoover Digest
Friday, April 30, 1999

Academics and pundits routinely assert that democracies do not wage wars against other democracies. If only it were so. By Thomas Schwartz and Hoover fellow Kiron Skinner.

Related Commentary

Airstrikes, Sure; but What About a Strategy in Iraq?

by Kiron K. Skinnervia The New York Times

It has been a tragically spectacular year for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which has taken control of numerous towns in Iraq and Syria, seized energy assets, targeted religious minorities, unleashed murderous rampages against those who do not subscribe to its tenets, and declared a caliphate.

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