LTC Zoppi with her family in 2011, 1st female Commander for
the prestigious 203rd Military Technology Intelligence Battalion,
Military Intelligence Readiness Command, Aberdeen Proving
The daughter of military parents, both having served in the U.S. Navy
(active duty), Dr. Zoppi grew up admiring their military discipline. In her childhood,
she recalls her mother telling stories of how when she was in the Navy after
women got pregnant, they could no longer continue to serve; and how difficult
it was being a Latina in the military, especially when English is not their first
language. She also recalls her non-Latino strict dad from Vincennes, Indiana,
who always said that women belonged in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant.
“I got valiente,” shares Dr. Zoppi. “I wanted to show that Latinas can do it.
We can cook, repair cars, raise a family, and still serve in the military. We can be
reinas de belleza y Soldiers. We can be whatever we want to be.”
These experiences, along with curiosity and an open mind, led the young
Zoppi to take risks regardless of how challenging they were; and use barriers as
a strategic drive to keep focus – never give up.
“I am a product of Puerto Rico
public schools; I am proud to be
representing Puerto Rico in the U.S.
Army and showcasing that we are here
- Podemos,” she shares. “We are U.S.
citizens as well; we know where Puerto
Rico is on the map by showcasing us as
authentic leaders that love and are
passionate about our country.”
Advocating for veterans, Latino
diversity, and inclusion, Dr. Zoppi serves
as a senior leader in intelligence
operations. In addition, she is making
strides at the National Security Agency
to create the sense of empowerment
that the Latino workforce needs to
become their best to get ahead.
Prívate First Class Irene Miller
Rodríguez (maiden name)
95B10, at 20 years old. Basic
Training. Fort McClellan,
BG Zoppi, Deputy Commanding General - Support, 200th MIlitary
Police Command, Fort George G. Meade, MD.
According to the Defense Manpower Data Center, Latinos make up just over
17 percent of active-duty members, but only 8 percent of the officer corps and
1 percent of General Officers. NBC News uncovers this story, pointing to the fact
that only a few Latinos hold high-ranking positions in the U.S. military. Today, Dr.
Zoppi is committed to making a change.
“I believe in people and their potential to reach the best of themselves,” she
shares. “For this reason, education and training become the essential ladder in
achieving personal and professional success. Our Nation needs diversity, and
we need to take part in history. Otherwise, no one will write about us. How many
Latinos are on top rankings? We do not see people in positions of power that are
Latinos, and that is a big problem. The challenge is that we do not have Latinos
on top senior leadership positions throughout the Department of Defense. There
is much talk on diversity, but there is no inclusion movement for Latinos.”
Dr. Zoppi with her family. Her husband Thomas Zoppi, and three
children: Isabel, Antonio, and Andrew at retirement ceremony in
Conmy Hall, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Virginia, November
19, 2021. (U.S. Army photos by Sgt. Nicholas T. Holmes).
LATINAStyle V ol. 27, No. 6 , 2021 www.latinastyle.com 23