Otha Thornton was installed as the first African-American male president of National PTA at the June 2013 National PTA Convention and Exhibition in Cincinnati, Ohio. He is a senior operations analyst with General Dynamics in Fort Stewart, Georgia. He is a retired United States Army Lieutenant Colonel and his last two assignments were with the White House Communications Agency and United States Forces-Iraq in Baghdad. Thornton earned the Bronze Star Medal for exceptional performance in combat operations during Operation Iraqi Freedom 2009-2010.
Previously, Thornton served on National PTA's Board of Directors, Legislative Committee, Membership Committee, and Executive Search Committee. During his time with Georgia PTA, Otha 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 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.
Thornton’s military background allowed him to volunteer throughout the country and the world at various local and council levels. Thornton served as president (and earlier as vice president) of Meade Senior High School PTSA at Fort Meade, Maryland. He has also 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 is also 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.
Thornton received 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. Thornton has been married to Caryn, an educator, for more than 25 years and they reside in Richmond Hill, GA. They have a daughter and a son.