Otha Thornton (PTA) Otha Thornton (PTA)

The National PTA is installing its first African American male and a veteran of the Iraq war as its president this weekend.

Otha Thornton, a senior operations analyst with General Dynamics in Fort Stewart, Ga., and a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, will become the leader of the National Parent Teacher Association after years of being involved with the organization in Georgia, Maryland, Michigan, Texas and Germany.

The PTA is holding its annual convention in Cincinnati, where Thornton will be installed Sunday. He earned the Bronze Star Medal for exceptional performance in combat operations during Operation Iraqi Freedom 2009-2010.

Thornton once served as vice president and president of the Parent Teacher Student Association at Fort Meade in Maryland and has been a volunteer at other schools.

The PTA is the country’s largest parent involvement organization, with nearly 26,000 local units in every state as well as the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and the Department of Defense Schools overseas.