The ceremony took place at the PTA’s annual convention at Duke Energy Convention Center in Cincinnati, where he addressed the more than 1,000 attendees in his first official speech in the position.
“This is an exciting opportunity, and I am proud to have been elected to lead the charge for parents and teachers across the nation, and to ensure that our children have the tools and support they need to succeed,” Thornton said. “As president, I am committed to expanding PTA’s membership, leadership development and advocacy efforts to strengthen the association and fully empower families, teachers and communities to advocate for all children.”
Thornton brings unique experience and extensive involvement at all levels of the PTA to his leadership role. A retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel who earned the Bronze Star Medal for exceptional performance in combat operations in 2009 and 2010 during Operations Iraqi Freedom, he and his family have lived all over the world, and his two children have been part of school systems in Georgia, Maryland, Michigan, Texas, as well as the Department of Defense Schools overseas.
“We are thrilled to welcome Otha as president,” said Eric Hargis, executive director of National PTA. “His extensive leadership experience in various PTA roles across the country and globe bring a dynamic perspective that will energize the National PTA’s continuing work to promote children’s health, well-being and educational success through strong parent, family and community involvement.”
Thornton previously served on the Georgia PTA Board of Directors and on the PTA’s national Board of Directors. He currently resides in Savannah, Georgia, with his wife of 20 years.
“The PTA is critical in bringing the voices of parents to the forefront on issues, working together to strengthen school safety, provide kids with healthy, nutritious lunches and implement consistent learning goals across the country,” Thornton said. “Parents are an essential voice in the education reform debate, and we need to be much more than an audience. We need to be partners in the education of our children, and I am looking forward to engaging with diverse communities across the country to ensure that all parents have a voice in their children’s education.”