Diversifying Diplomacy: A Conversation with Women of Color Leaders of the State Department
- Dr. Kiron Skinner, Director, Office of Policy Planning, Senior Policy Advisor to the Secretary of State, U.S. Department of State
- Ms. Mary Elizabeth Taylor, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Legislative Affairs, U.S. Department of State
- Dr. Yleem D.S. Poblete, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, U.S. Department of State
- Reta Jo Lewis, Esq., Senior Fellow and Director of Congressional Affairs, The German Marshall Fund of the United States
Dr. Kiron Skinner has served as Director of the Office of Policy Planning at the U.S. Department of State since September 2018. In this role she also serves as a Senior Policy Advisor to the Secretary of State, providing essential long-term, high-level guidance. Dr. Skinner is currently on leave from Carnegie Mellon University, where she directs the following academic initiatives: the Center for International Relations and Politics; the Carnegie Mellon University Washington Semester Program; the Institute for Politics and Strategy; and the Institute for Strategic Analysis. For many years, Professor Skinner was a faculty member in the Department of History and the Department of Social and Decision Sciences (SDS). As director of the Institute for Politics and Strategy, Professor Skinner now oversees the creation and development of Carnegie Mellon’s newest academic unit. Her areas of expertise are international relations, international security, US foreign policy, and political strategy. At the Hoover Institution, Professor Skinner is the W. Glenn Campbell Research Fellow. She is a member of three 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. Professor Skinner is a lifetime director on the board of the Atlantic Council in Washington, DC, is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City, and the Pacific Council on International Policy in Los Angeles, California. Professor Skinner holds MA and PhD degrees in political science from Harvard University and undergraduate degrees from Spelman College and Sacramento City College. She has an honorary doctor of laws degree from Molloy College, Long Island.
Mary Elizabeth Taylor is the Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs for the U.S. Department of State. Previously she served as senior advisor in the Office of the Counselor. From 2017 to 2018, Ms. Taylor was Special Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs at the White House. In that role, she led the process and strategy guiding Senate nominations, spearheading the successful confirmations of more than four hundred nominees, including the high-profile confirmations of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, and CIA Director Gina Haspel. Previously she served in the office of United States Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, working on the Senate floor as the Senior Cloakroom Assistant and acting as a liaison between the majority and minority leadership to negotiate agreements on legislative and executive matters. Ms. Taylor also provided Members of Congress with parliamentary advice and counsel on floor strategy during consideration of pending legislative matters. A Washington, D.C. area native, Ms. Taylor holds a B.A. degree in political science and Spanish from Bryn Mawr College.
Dr. Yleem D.S. Poblete is the Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance in the U.S. Department of State. She is the senior Senate-confirmed Hispanic female at the department and the first Hispanic female to lead the bureau. In this capacity, she is honored to advance the administration’s foreign policy vision and goals for the American people. Assistant Secretary Poblete supports one of the administration’s key strategic goals to counter the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems via verification of compliance of arms control, nonproliferation and disarmament treaties, agreements and commitments to which the U.S. is party. In this vein, Dr. Poblete plays an important role in supporting the Secretary and administration’s efforts concerning the verifiable denuclearization of North Korea, denying Iran the means to acquire nuclear weapons, and holding Syria accountable for the use of chemical weapons. She serves as the principal policy liaison to the intelligence community for this purpose and is tasked with assessing the verifiability of any arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament accord the United States plans to enter into. Assistant Secretary Poblete joined the State Department after a distinguished career in public service that includes the White House and the U.S. House of Representatives, where she served as the first Hispanic female Chief of Staff on the Committee on Foreign Affairs. During her tenure on the Foreign Affairs Committee, Dr. Poblete worked on a wide range of regional and functional national security issues and spearheaded legislative efforts to advance key U.S. foreign policy and national security priorities, including laws designed to counter proliferation, to hold violators accountable, and to compel the disarmament of rogue states such as Iran, North Korea, and Syria. Dr. Poblete’s diverse, interdisciplinary experience extends into academia, think tank research and analysis, and strategic consulting. She holds a B.A., an M.A, and a Ph.D. in International Relations with regional concentrations in the western hemisphere and the Middle East.