Peter Dawson was born in Corvallis, Oregon. After graduating from Oregon State University, he received a commission in the United States Navy and reported to his first submarine, USS KEY WEST (SSN 722) in August 1985. A career submariner, he was Executive Officer of USS Florida (Blue) (SSBN 728) and the first Commanding Officer of Naval Submarine Support Center, Bangor.
Dr. Dawson served as Deputy Chief of Strategy for Multi-National Forces, Iraq and then returned to the Pacific Northwest and Submarine Group 9 to serve as Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Forces, Readiness and Training. He was Commanding Officer of Naval Base Kitsap from April 2011 until shortly before he retired from the Navy in December 2013. Dr. Dawson’s military awards include the Legion of Merit (two awards), the Bronze Star, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, and the Meritorious Service Medal (three awards).
After leaving the Navy, Dr. Dawson served as Chief of Staff of the Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC). In that role he was responsible to the Secretary of DOC for managing 8200 state employees and a $1.8 Billion budget as well as oversight of the agency's top strategic initiatives. Dr. Dawson became Chief of Staff of Marine Corps Installations Pacific (MCIPAC) and MCB Camp S. D. Butler in January 2018.
Dr. Dawson holds a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from Oregon State University, a Masters of Arts in National Security Affairs from the Naval War College, and a Doctorate of Philosophy (Political Science) from Rice University in Houston, TX. Dr. Dawson also held a Federal Executive Fellowship at the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, CA. He and his wife, have three children.