The Superintendent of the United States Naval Academy appointed Colonel Athens as the Director for the Academy’s Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership on 4 February 2008, after having served as Interim Director from July 2007.
Born and reared in Huntington, New York, Colonel Athens attended the U.S. Naval Academy where he served as Brigade Commander, lettered on the varsity lacrosse team, and received both the Alumni Association Award and the Coaches’ Calvert Award. He graduated with distinction in 1978 and was commissioned in the U.S. Marine Corps. During his active duty career, he held significant staff and command positions in the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Marine Aircraft Wings.
Colonel Athens also served as the Antiair Warfare Instructor and Academic Dean at Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron-l and taught Computer Science at the U.S. Naval Academy where he received the Clements Award as the outstanding military educator. While assigned to the Naval Academy, he became a White House Fellow and served at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Colonel Athens earned a master’s degree in Information Systems from the Naval Postgraduate School, where he stood first in his graduating class, as well as a master’s in Military Arts and Sciences from the U.S. Army’s School of Advanced Military Studies.
Colonel Athens left active duty in 1994 to serve as the Executive Director of OCF, a worldwide organization assisting military officers integrate their personal faith and professional responsibilities. After leading OCF for five years, Colonel Athens assumed responsibilities as the Commandant of Midshipmen at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, one of the Nation’s five federal service academies. He remained as Commandant until his selection as the Naval Academy’s first Lakefield Family Foundation Distinguished Military Professor of Leadership.
When Colonel Athens resigned his active duty commission, he transferred to the Marine Corps Reserves and served as a Space Operations Officer for the U.S. Space Command, the Commanding Officer of Marine Air Control Squadron 24, and a Strategic Analyst at Headquarters Marine Corps. He then served as Special Assistant to the President, Marine Corps University. He retired from U.S. Marine Corps Reserves effective 1 July 2008.
In 2005, Colonel Athens volunteered to coach the Northern High School Boys’ Lacrosse Team and led the team to their first Regional Championship and a third place finish in the state of Maryland. The Washington Post selected Colonel Athens as their Coach of the Year.