Kiron Skinner

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Kiron Skinner
Kiron Skinner Screenshot.jpg
Director of Policy Planning
In office
August 30, 2018 – August 2019
PresidentDonald Trump
Preceded byBrian Hook
Succeeded byPeter Berkowitz
Personal details
Born1961 (age 58–59)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
EducationSacramento City College
Spelman College (BA)
Harvard University (MA, PhD)

Kiron Kanina Skinner (born 1961) is a former Director of Policy Planning at the United States Department of State.[1] Prior to that, she was the Taube Professor of International Relations and Politics at Carnegie Mellon University, and the founding director of the Institute for Politics and Strategy and associated centers at the university. She is also the W. Glenn Campbell Research Fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. Since leaving the Department of State, she has returned to her position at Carnegie Mellon University.

She co-authored two books on Ronald Reagan: In His Own Hand (2001) and Reagan, a Life in Letters (2003), which were New York Times bestsellers.[2] In 2005, Skinner was appointed by President George W. Bush to a term on the National Security Education Board.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Skinner was born in Chicago in 1961 and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area.[4] She earned an associate degree in communications from Sacramento City College in 1979. She won the Harry S. Truman Scholarship for the State of California, which enabled her to move on to Spelman College, a historically black liberal arts college in Atlanta, where she earned a bachelor's degree in political science. She then earned an MA and PhD degrees in political science and international relations from Harvard University. While at Harvard, she was a student of future United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who advised her, "People may oppose you, but when they realize you can hurt them, they'll join your side."[5]

Academic career[edit]

At Carnegie Mellon University, she is founding director of the Institute for Politics and Strategy, part of the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences; university adviser on national security policy; Taube Professor of International Relations and Politics; and director of the International Relations and Politics undergraduate major. In addition, Skinner is a Distinguished Fellow at CyLab, a research center in the College of Engineering, and holds courtesy faculty positions at CMU's Heinz College, the Institute for Software Research, an academic department in the School of Computer Science, and in the Department of Social and Decision Sciences. She has also taught political science courses at Hamilton College, Harvard University, and the University of California, Los Angeles.[6] At Stanford University's Hoover Institution, Skinner is the W. Glenn Campbell Research Fellow and a member of the Shultz-Stephenson Task Force on Energy Policy.[7]

Political career[edit]

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo officiates the Swearing-In Ceremony for Dr. Kiron Skinner as Director of Policy Planning, September 2018.

George W. Bush administration[edit]

Skinner served as a foreign policy surrogate for the George W. Bush Presidential re-election campaign in 2004.

Other jobs[edit]

In 2010, she was appointed to the advisory board of the George W. Bush Oral History Project.[8] She was a senior foreign policy adviser to Speaker Newt Gingrich during his presidential primary campaign from 2011 to 2012 and then to Mitt Romney's Presidential General Election campaign in the fall of 2012.[9] In 2012, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett appointed Skinner to the Governor's Advisory Commission on African American Affairs.[8]

Trump administration[edit]

In 2016, Skinner served on President-elect Donald Trump's transition team for national security.[10] She had a position as a senior advisor for the State Department but left the role after a few days.[11] In August 2018, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced her as the new Director of Policy Planning at the U.S. State Department,[12] and she was sworn in on September 4, 2018. She was given a coordinating role on the newly formed Commission on Unalienable Rights, whose creation was announced July 8, 2019. Skinner’s term at the State Department ended in August 2019.


  • Reagan, In His Own Hand: The Writings of Ronald Reagan that Reveal His Revolutionary Vision for America with Annelise Anderson and Martin Anderson. Free Press, 2001. ISBN 0743219384
  • Reagan: A Life In Letters with Annelise Anderson and Martin Anderson. Free Press, 2004. ISBN 0743219678
  • Strategy of Campaigning: Lessons from Ronald Reagan and Boris Yeltsin with Serhiy Kudelia, Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, and Condoleezza Rice. University of Michigan Press, 2007.
  • Turning Points in Ending the Cold War, Hoover Institution Press, 2008.


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 Network. She also regularly provides commentary on national and international television and radio programs.[13]


  1. ^ Sanger, David E.; Haberman, Maggie; Wong, Edward (August 2, 2019). "State Department Officials Force Out Top Policy Planner and Adviser to Mike Pompeo". The New York Times. Retrieved August 2, 2019.
  2. ^ "Kiron K. Skinner, CyLab Distinguished Fellow - Carnegie Mellon University CyLab". Retrieved 2014-09-05.
  3. ^ "President Bush Appoints Hoover Fellow Kiron Skinner to National Security Education Board" (Press release). Hoover Institution. April 6, 2005.
  4. ^ Vision and Values Newsletter JANUARY 2013 | VOLUME 21 | NUMBER 1
  5. ^ Bumiller, Elizabeth (2009). Condoleezza Rice: An American Life: A Biography. Random House. p. 121. ISBN 978-0-8129-7713-4. Kiron Skinner graduate rice.
  6. ^ "New Faculty Join Hamilton College". Hamilton College. April 4, 1998. Retrieved April 21, 2015.
  7. ^ "Kiron K. Skinner". Archived from the original on 2014-09-05. Retrieved 2014-09-05.
  8. ^ a b "International-Relations Professor to Advise on Bush Oral History Project - People - The Chronicle of Higher Education". Retrieved 2014-09-05.
  9. ^ "Why I support Mitt Romney". Retrieved September 5, 2014.
  10. ^ Schackner, Bill (November 23, 2016). "CMU prof lands spot on Trump transition team for National Security Council". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  11. ^ Sherman, Jake (February 9, 2017). "NEWSFLASH: Why DC will continue to face GRIDLOCK -- WHO TULSI met with in SYRIA -- REINCE struggles to fill comms director job -- JEN PSAKI's next move -- B'DAY: Manu Raju". Politico. Retrieved February 23, 2017.
  12. ^ Monsen, Lauren (30 August 2018). "State Department's new senior adviser is a scholar, author". Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has announced the appointment of Kiron Skinner as the new director of policy planning at the U.S. State Department.
  13. ^ "Profile: Kiron K. Skinner". Hoover Institute. Retrieved August 4, 2019.

External links[edit]