Dr. Kiron K. Skinner is a tireless public servant and renowned expert in international relations, US foreign policy, and political strategy. Her work on behalf of the American people includes membership on the US Defense Department's Defense Policy Board; the Chief of Naval Operations' Executive Panel; and the National Security Education Board. In 2004, she was a foreign policy surrogate for the Bush-Cheney reelection campaign. In 2011-12, Skinner was a senior foreign policy adviser to presidential candidate Speaker Newt Gingrich. Skinner's coauthored books Reagan, In His Own Hand and Reagan, a Life in Letters were New York Times best sellers. Reagan, In His Own Hand won the Hoover Institution's Uncommon Book Award. Reagan, A Life in Letters was selected as one of the best books of 2003 by the Los Angeles Times andwas Time magazine's cover story on September 29, 2003.
Professor Skinner was recently named Carnegie Mellon University's first university adviser on national security policy. Also in 2012, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett appointed Professor Skinner to his Governor's Commission on African American Affairs. She is an associate professor and founding director of the university's Center for International Relations and Politics. Skinner is the W. Glenn Campbell Research Fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace.
The United States has core interests from North Africa to the outer banks of Central and Southwest Asia, and Professor Skinner maintains that these interests range far beyond concerns about oil and economic issues. In her talks, Skinner carefully reviews the broad variety of cultural, political, economic, and security factors that continue to make the Middle East a region of key concern for the United States despite Washington’s recent pivot toward Asia.
Professor Skinner weaves history, political thought, and contemporary analysis into her discussions on why the survival of the American republic depends on a healthy tension between political conservatism and liberalism, and why conservatism is at times the more fragile of the two doctrines. She cautions against adopting the view that the sky is falling and argues that the redefinition of American conservatism – forged at Tea Party rallies as well as within establishment circles – is not wholly new. Skinner contends that the current political battles have been fought in the past, typically leading to the emergence of a unique American centrism.
Professor Skinner has written extensively about US presidential politics. She is the coauthor, along with political scientists Serhiy Kudelia, Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, and Condoleezza Rice, of The Strategy of Campaigning: Lessons from Ronald Reagan and Boris Yeltsin. She has also served as a surrogate and foreign policy adviser for the presidential campaigns of President George W. Bush (2004) and Speaker Newt Gingrich (2011-12). Skinner brings her deep scholarly and practical knowledge of presidential campaigns and politics to her speaking and writing on the future of the US political system.
Professor Skinner demystifies American exceptionalism through a scholarly yet lively perspective based on her historical research and compelling personal narrative as a conservative African American scholar. She argues that American exceptionalism is a double-edged sword that has resulted not only in extraordinary advances in liberty, property rights, individualism, and justice, but also in an inconsistent record on equality. Furthermore, American exceptionalism has led to the creation of a virtual, rather than a traditional, American empire. And while virtual persuasion may appear to be more benign than traditional demonstrations of strength, it must be managed carefully in order to remain consistent with American values and ideals.