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Irene M. Zoppi

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Irene M. Zoppi
Irene M. Zoppi (3).jpg
Zoppi in 2017
Birth nameIrene Miller Rodríguez
BornAugust 22, 1966
Canóvanas, Puerto Rico
AllegianceUnited States of America
Branch United States Army
Years of service1985-1995 (Active)
1995-present (Reserve)
RankUS-O7 insignia.svg Brigadier General
Unit3rd Armored Division-Spearhead
Commands heldDCG/Director, AREC - U.S. Army South, Ft Sam, San Antonio, TX and Former Deputy Commanding General – Support under the 200th Military Police Command at Fort Meade, Maryland.
Battles/warsOperation Desert Storm
AwardsBronze Star Medal
Meritorious Service Medal (with 3 oak leaf clusters)
Army Commendation Medal (with 6 oak leaf clusters)
Other workProgram Director for the National Intelligence University at the National Security Agency.

Irene M. Zoppi Rodríguez (née Miller Rodríguez; born August 22, 1966), is a U.S. Army officer and academic. She is the first Puerto Rican woman to attain the rank of general in the U.S. Army Reserve. Since February 2019, she has served as a deputy commanding general for United States Army South, as the director of the Army Reserve Engagement Cell for Individual Mobilization Augmentees. Zoppi is an adjunct professor at Strayer University. She has worked as an instructor for the National Intelligence University where she directed the university's academic center within the National Security Agency.

Early life and education[edit]

Zoppi was born and raised in the town of Canóvanas, Puerto Rico.[1] Her grandmother and aunts encouraged her to pursue a career. When she was in eighth grade, Zoppi's grandfather pushed her to pursue an education.[2] She attended the University of Puerto Rico, joined the University's ROTC program and began her training in 1985 at the University of Puerto Rico at Humacao campus. Zoppi continued her training in the Río Piedras Campus upon her transfer there. Zoppi began as private first class and was assigned to the Military Police Corps at Fort McClellan in Alabama. Her nickname "Ramba", an allusion to the movie character Rambo, comes from this time.

Zoppi completed a B.A. in Modern Languages from the University of Puerto Rico in 1988, after learning to speak five languages, Spanish, English, Italian, French and German. She was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Army after her graduation.[1][3][4]

She earned a master's degree in Business Administration from Johns Hopkins University in 2000. That same year she earned her Ph.D. in Education Policy, Planning, and Administration from the University of Maryland.[5] In 2012, Zoppi earned a Master of Strategic Studies degree from the Army War College.[1][3][4]

Military career[edit]

Zoppi at a women’s observance event in 2012

Zoppi was first sent overseas to Germany before being deployed to the Middle East during the Persian Gulf War as part of Operation Desert Storm. She served with the 3rd Armored Division-Spearhead as a special security officer and worked with the telecommunication centers. Among her duties as a special security officer was obtaining classified information from the internet, interpreting the information, labeling it, and making it available to her superiors. She was stationed in the area known as "The Valley of Death" where the oil fields were burning. This was one of the areas where the Iraqis were trying to flee Kuwait. She described the experience as one of the culture shocks which she was subjected to. Prior culture shocks in her life included the culture of United States and that of Europe (specifically, Germany). Zoppi was present during the liberation of Kuwait and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal. She also served in Iraq and Saudi Arabia during her deployment.[1][3][4] Zoppi left the active component of the U.S. Army in 1995 as a captain and entered the U.S. Army Reserve.[3]

While serving in the reserves, Zoppi was promoted to major and later to lieutenant colonel. She served as the Battalion Commander for 11th Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 104th Division (Leadership Development).[1] She then became the Assistant J2/Chief Intelligence Officer for the National Capital Region Joint Task Force under United States Northern Command.[1] Afterwards, she was the Battalion Commander of the 203rd Military Intelligence Battalion (Technical Intelligence), followed by promotion to colonel and assignment as the Group Commander for the 3100th Strategic Intelligence Group.[1] By 2015, she was serving as the Deputy Commander and Chief of Staff of 1st Mission Support Command, Ft. Buchanan, Puerto Rico.[6] She was one of fifteen Latina colonels in the army reserves.[2] Zoppi then served as the Army Reserve Element Commander and J2 of the 76th Operational Response Command with United States Southern Command.[1]

In September 2017, Zoppi was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General. Her promotion came with the appointment as deputy commanding general for the 200th Military Police Command.[3][1][7] She is the first Puerto Rican woman promoted to the rank of general in the U.S. Army Reserve.[8][3] In 2019, Zoppi was named director of the Army Reserve Engagement Cell and a deputy commanding general for United States Army South.[9] In that capacity, she visited Honduras in May to observe reserve medical training there.[10][11]

Academic career[edit]

As a civilian Zoppi has taught in the public school system of Maryland and also at various universities. She is a former adjunct professor, College of Notre Dame, and former Research Associate at the Maryland Institute of Minority Achievement and Urban Education, University of Maryland. As a Professor in the Business and Education Departments at Strayer University, she was named 2012 Strayer University Faculty of the Year,[1][4] and was a keynote speaker at the 2013 Latina Style Business Series conference, where she advocated for women to incorporate Latin American culture into their business models and cited the importance of community in Latina culture as an asset for companies.[12] She has worked as an instructor for the National Intelligence University and director of the university's academic center within the National Security Agency.[6][13]

She was appointed to the Maryland State Board of Education for a four-year term from 2017 to 2021.[14] In 2020, she was appointed as the first Hispanic trustee of Anne Arundel Community College.[15]


  • 2009 – Listed as one of "Maryland's Top 100 Women" by the Daily Record[16][2]
  • 2012 – Strayer University Faculty of the Year Award[2][4]
  • 2013 – Knowlton Award of the Military Intelligence Corps Association[17]
  • 2015 – Latina of Influence Award by the Hispanic Lifestyle Magazine[4][6]
  • Kentucky Colonel, Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Zoppi married Thomas Zoppi, a former member of the United States Marine Corps, in 1988. They have three children and two grandchildren.[3][4]

Military awards and decorations[edit]

Among Zoppi's military awards and decorations are the following:[1]

Military awards[edit]

Width-44 scarlet ribbon with width-4 ultramarine blue stripe at center, surrounded by width-1 white stripes. Width-1 white stripes are at the edges. Bronze Star Medal
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Meritorious Service Medal (with 3 Oak leaf clusters)
Silver oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Army Commendation Medal (with 6 Oak leaf clusters)
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Army Achievement Medal (with 1 Oak leaf clusters)
Silver oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal (with 6 Oak leaf clusters)
Bronze star
National Defense Service Medal (with one Service star)
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Southwest Asia Service Medal (with three Service stars)
Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal
Armed Forces Reserve Medal (with Silver Hourglass)
Army Service Ribbon
Army Overseas Service Ribbon
Award numeral 2.png Army Reserve Components Overseas Training Ribbon (with award numeral 2)
Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia)
Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait)
Meritorious Unit Commendation


  • US Army Airborne basic parachutist badge.gif  Parachutist badge
  • USAMPC-Regimental-Insignia.png  Regimental Insignia

See also[edit]

Other articles of the topics Puerto Rico AND Biography : Carmen Lozano Dumler, Ramón Núñez-Juárez, Angel Mendez, Manuel Rivera Jr., Luis F. Castro, Frankie Segarra, Rafel Toro

Other articles of the topic Puerto Rico : Efe Rosario, Enrique Romero-Nieves, Rafel Toro, Puerto Rico Highway 690, Jaime Sabater Sr., Luis F. Castro, UPR Law School Building

Other articles of the topic Biography : Carla Brown, Charles E. Grant, Elyse Sewell, Tzy Panchak, Maurice Joseph Manuel, Colby Cosh, Hoffman L. Fuller
Some use of "" in your query was not closed by a matching "".Some use of "" in your query was not closed by a matching "".

  • Military history of Puerto Rico
  • List of Puerto Rican military personnel
  • Puerto Rican women in the military
  • History of women in Puerto Rico


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 "Brig. Gen. Irene Zoppi, Deputy Commanding General – Support". Leadership. US Army Reserve. Retrieved 2021-03-16. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "La mujer que rompe estereotipos". El Tiempo Latino (in español). 2014-04-04. Retrieved 2021-03-17. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Sauret, Michel (October 25, 2017). ""Ramba" is first female Puerto Rican general officer in US Army Reserve". US Army. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 "Irene Zoppi-Rodríguez, Ph.D." 2015 Latinas of Influence. Hispanic Lifestyle. Retrieved 2021-03-16.
  5. Zoppi, Irene M. (November 4, 2004). "The Relationship of Self-Perceived Leadership Style and Acculturation of Latinas in the U.S. Army" (Ph.D. thesis). University of Maryland. hdl:1903/1979.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "NSA Instructor named a 2015 Latina of Influence". News & Features. National Security Agency. April 15, 2015.
  7. "Secretario de Estado felicita a la "Ramba" Puertorriqueña Bri. Gen. Irene Zoppi" [Secretary of State congratulates the Puerto Rican "Ramba" Brig. Gen. Irene Zoppi] (in español). Government of Puerto Rico, Department of State. August 30, 2017.
  8. Delgado, José A. (August 30, 2017). "Anuncian a primera general boricua en la Reserva del Ejército de EE.UU". El Nuevo Día (in español). Retrieved 2021-03-17. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  9. "Zoppi Assigned to U.S. Army South". Signal. AFCEA. February 21, 2019.
  10. "Army South general visits Honduran hospital, observes training". U.S. Army South Public Affairs. October 15, 2019. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  11. "Con intercambio de reconocimentos el MIDE, COE, y Comando Sur EE.UU clausuran ejercicios FAHUM-2019". Mirando los Cuarteles (in español). May 2019. Retrieved 2021-03-17. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  12. Reimann, Mariel (October 18, 2013). "La Latinas tienen la chispa necesaria para ser grandes líderes". KSL (in español). Retrieved 2021-03-17. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  13. "Academic Center Campus Information". Student Welcome Packet (PDF). National Intelligence University. 2017–2018. p. 45. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  14. "State Department of Education". Maryland Manual On-line. Maryland State Archives. November 20, 2017. Archived from the original on 2017-12-06. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  15. Haasbroek, Johannes (September 9, 2020). "AACC Board of Trustees gets 1st Hispanic member". Campus Current. Anne Arundel Community College.
  16. "2009 winners". Daily Record. Retrieved 2021-03-16.
  17. "Knowlton Award". Military Intelligence Corps Association. Retrieved 2021-03-16. See also list of award recipients.

External links[edit]

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