Dawn M.K. Zoldi | Unmanned Systems Institute

Dawn M.K. Zoldi

Dawn M.K. Zoldi USAF

Colonel, USAF, Staff Judge Advocate

Princeton University 

Panel – Future Growth and Innovation in Unmanned Systems

Colonel Dawn M.K. Zoldi, United States Air Force (USAF), is currently assigned as the Staff Judge Advocate, United States Air Force Academy (USAFA), Colorado Springs, Colorado. In this capacity, Colonel Zoldi leads a 24-person staff and serves as general counsel to the three-star Academy Superintendent, Headquarters Staff, Commandant of Cadets, Dean of the Faculty, Director of Athletics, USAFA Preparatory School, 10th Air Base Wing, and subordinate units. Just prior to her current assignment, Colonel Zoldi was stationed at the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate at Headquarters, Air Combat Command (ACC), Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, as the Chief of Operations Law.

As such, she served as chief counsel to the four-star Commander and his staff on all international, intelligence, and operations law issues affecting the Combat Air Forces and provided training for ACC’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAGC) members—18 legal offices providing legal services to 128,000 personnel—to prepare them for worldwide expeditionary service. In 1989, Colonel Zoldi simultaneously attained her B.A. degrees in history and philosophy and M.A. degree in history from the University of Scranton. After attaining her J.D. from the Villanova University School of Law in 1992, she was admitted to the Bar of the Supreme Court of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and subsequently commissioned as a direct appointee in the Air Force.

In 2010, the Colonel received her M.S. with Academic Distinction in Military Strategic Studies from the Air War College. In her 22 years as a member of the USAF JAGC, Colonel Zoldi has performed myriad duties at various echelons, including Wing, Headquarters Air Force/Secretary of the Air Force, Combatant Command, and Major Command and has deployed forward in support of OPERATIONS ENDURING FREEDOM, IRAQI FREEDOM, and other HQ U.S. Central Command requirements.

Throughout her career, Colonel Zoldi has frequently lectured and published, including as an Assistant Professor of Law at USAFA and adjunct faculty to the Air Force Judge Advocate General’s School. Her publications include several Air Force guides used worldwide: The JAG Guide to Domestic Imagery, ACC Flying Evaluation Board Guide, SAF/IGQ Command Directed Investigations Guide, JAG Guide to IG Investigations and Air Force Drug Testing Program guides. Colonel Zoldi has published several scholarly works on the domestic use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and is the founder of the Department of Defense’s informal Domestic Imagery Working Group, addressing the toughest policy and legal issues facing domestic UAS employment. Colonel Zoldi is the recipient of numerous awards and decorations, including the Defense Superior Service Medal. In 2008, the American Bar Association recognized Colonel Zoldi as the Air Force’s Outstanding Military Career Service Judge Advocate and, more recently, she was the recipient of the 2013 Thomas P. Keenan Jr. Award for outstanding contributions to the field of international and military operations law.