Colonel Don Potoczny
Commandant of the Patton Academy, Farragut High School in Chicago
Don Potoczny serves as the Commandant of the Patton Academy at Farragut High School in Chicago. He recently retired after a distinguished military career. Don has quickly become a leader in several community organizations. He serves as the President of the DuPage Symphony Orchestra, the Director for Professional Development for Project Management Institute Chicagoland, and a senior advisor for Operation Support our Troops.
Colonel Potoczny developed a reputation as one of the most innovative trainers in the U.S. Army. He has built diverse teams all over the world to solve some of our allies’ most difficult problems.
Don managed the development of a “resiliency campus” on Fort Carson, Colorado. This project
coordinated the construction of a world-class gymnasium, mental health clinic, child care
facility, and civilian personnel wellness center at a cost of $34 million. It provided the
community with a holistic approach to wellness.
Don deployed to Baghdad, Iraq in the last year of the US occupation. Don developed a team of
officers from every service – US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard and Customs, and
Border Patrol. This “ISF Team” maintained assessments of every Iraqi security organization.
They developed training strategies based on those detailed assessments. Don and his ISF Team clearly had an enormous impact on Iraq and its future as an independent nation. Their
methodical approach to developing training strategies ensured the readiness of our ally,
reduced the need to increased US involvement, and save countless lives.
Don served in the Republic of Korea for ten years culminating in his selection to command the
Army’s rocket artillery battalion just thirteen miles from North Korea. His highly effective
training programs addressed his two priorities – unit readiness and leader development. To
address readiness, he developed a system of alerts that ensured every subunit was ready to
deploy with no notice. He developed a robust and creative leader development program which
became the standard for the division. Don served his last two years of duty as an exchange
officer with the Canadian Armed Forces. He served with the Canadian Joint Operations
Command which oversees all activities of the Canadian Armed Forces.
In Ottawa, Don created a team to address Canada’s most complex and pressing challenge – the
information domain. Numerous government activities endeavored to address developing
threats and build capabilities. Don created the Joint Operational Effects (JOE) Team to
synchronize many of these efforts. The JOE Team integrated public affairs into operation,
coordinated senior leader engagements around the world, and operationalized a host of
Don also identified challenges for staff coordination across the headquarters. The functionallyaligned staff had developed impenetrable silos with officers assigned regional responsibilities. Don recognized a transformative opportunity to increase collaboration. He developed Regional Working Groups to connect desk officers across the functional staff. He led these working groups to share perspectives and they reached a level of teamwork they never imagined possible.
Don holds a BA in Philosophy from Western Illinois University; an MS in Education from Kansas
State University; and a Master of Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College. Don holds
current certifications as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and Project
Management Professional (PMP). He is an authorized partner with MBTI, Core Strengths,
Everything DiSC, The Five Behaviors, and the Center for Creative Leadership.