As the son of a career-enlisted Air Force man, Anthony “Ant” Thornton became enchanted by flight and dreamed of having a career in aviation, particularly as an engineer. In 1978 he graduated from the University of Colorado with a degree in aerospace engineering and went to work at Sandia National Laboratories. He obtained his Masters (Stanford University) and eventually his Ph.D. (Purdue).
Spending 27 years at Sandia, he became the first African American Director in Sandia’s history. Transferring to Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Development Programs, his work earned the praise of many, and he received the Professional Achievement in Industry National 2001 Black Engineer of the Year Award. Returning to Sandia in 2005, he rose to the position of Deputy to the Vice President of Defense Systems and Assessments. After retiring from Sandia, he worked for Universities Space Research Association as a Corporate Director, growing the company from $100 million to $160 million in revenue.
Dr. Thornton and his wife Glenna live in the East Mountains of Albuquerque where they are active in their local community and church. He has served on a number of Boards and supports local charitable activities including the East Mountain High School Foundation. He also spent 7 years as a Naval Reservist. Like many Black Americans, “Ant” Thornton was raised a Democrat. During the first Obama administration, he became disillusioned with the Democrat Party so he became a “Walk-Away Democrat” and changed his party affiliation to Republican in 2011. In 2021 he was elected as the 1st Vice Chair of the Republican Party of Bernalillo County, the most populous county in New Mexico, where he is a strong advocate for individual liberty and freedom.