Date: June 2, 2014
Army veteran Otha Thornton, president of National PTA, the global volunteer organization that works to improve children’s education, safety, and health, will speak at the Athens Technical College 2014 graduation ceremony May 6.
Thornton was installed as National PTA president in 2013 as the first African-American male to hold that position in the organization’s 115-year history. Previously, he served on National PTA's board of directors, legislative committee, membership committee, and executive search committee.
He is a retired United States Army lieutenant colonel who now works as a senior operations analyst with General Dynamics in Fort Stewart, GA. Prior to his military retirement, Thornton spent his last two assignments with the White House Communications Agency and with the U.S. Forces-Iraq in Baghdad. He earned the Bronze Star Medal for exceptional performance in combat operations during Operation Iraqi Freedom 2009-2010.
The National PTA executive’s military background allowed him to volunteer throughout the country and the world at various local and council levels of National PTA. Thornton served as president (and earlier as vice president) of Meade Senior High School PTSA at Fort Meade, Maryland. He also has been a volunteer at Kaiserslautern American Elementary and Middle School PTAs, Department of Defense Education Activity, Vogelweh Air Force Base, Kaiserslautern, Germany; South Range Elementary School, South Range, Michigan; Houghton Elementary and Middle Schools, Houghton, Michigan; Fernandez Elementary School PTA events, San Antonio, Texas; and Richmond Hill Elementary School events, Richmond Hill, Georgia.
Thornton served Maryland PTA as nominating leader, board development committee chairman, and as a member of Anne Arundel County’s Superintendent High Performing High School Task Force. In addition, he was appointed by the governor of Maryland to serve on a Maryland Education Task Force.
During his time with Georgia PTA, Thornton served on the board of directors as legislative chair and as an advisory group member for Georgia's Partnership for Excellence in Education.
Thornton also is active in the community. He is a member of Richmond Hill Church of Christ and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated. He is a life member of the National Eagle Scout Association and has more than 25 years of active service in the scouting program across the United States and around the world.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in urban studies from Morehouse College and a master’s degree in communications from Michigan Technological University. He was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from Michigan Technological University in 2009. He and his wife, Caryn Thornton, an educator, have been married for 24 years, and they reside in Richmond Hill. They have a daughter and a son.
The Athens Technical College commencement exercises will take place at 10 a.m., Tuesday, May 6, at the Classic Center, 300 N. Thomas St. in downtown Athens.
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