Joe Soto was born and raised in Hershey, Pennsylvania. He excelled in high school both academically and athletically, graduating in the top of his high school class, and earning numerous varsity letters. He received a congressional nomination to the U.S. Naval Academy where he majored in History. Joe received his B.S. degree upon graduation in 1983 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. He served for 8 years as a supply/logistics officer, achieving the rank of captain before he was honorably discharged.
Joe’s military assignments included command positions at Parris Island, South Carolina, a recruiting tour in Pennsylvania, and staff assignments at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina and Okinawa, Japan. While he was in the Marine Corps he received his MBA from Webster University. Athletics remained a big part of his Marine Corps life. Joe was a member of the Marine Corps Triathlon team, competing nationally, and has run 6 Marine Corps Marathons, with a personal best of 2:55:11.
He was most recently Executive Vice President and General Manager of Dorland Global Corporation, a global pharmaceutical/biotech advertising agency with offices in San Francisco, Philadelphia and Europe. Prior to joining Dorland, Joe held several senior positions in the advertising and pharmaceutical industry.
Joe is a board member of the American Association of Advertising Agencies, the Medical Marketing Association and the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association. He is also a member of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance against Defamation (GLAAD), the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the Service Academy Gay and Lesbian Association (SAGALA) and USNA Out. As a USNA Alumni Association lifetime member, he is a member of the USNA Alumni Association and Foundation’s “President’s Circle.”
Joe resides in Philadelphia and is actively involved in the community. He belongs to the Philadelphia Symphony, and is a frequent donor to the Mizzoni Gay and Lesbian Health Center, and the William Way LGBT Center. He remains an active runner, and is a member of Philadelphia Front Runners and the Philadelphia Sporting Club.
I loved my experiences at the Naval Academy and in the Marine Corps. It was a great honor to serve with and a privilege to lead the young men and women of the United States Marine Corps. At times, I found myself at odds with my gay life and the military life, so I was always very careful to keep them separate. I have always been grateful for the opportunities the Naval Academy and my military service have afforded me in the private sector, where I have been very successful and also now free to live as an openly gay man. My military career was in the fast track, I was punching all of the ‘right’ tickets, but it was becoming more and more difficult to lead separate lives. I served before the era of ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ and the hypocrisy of the ban finally got to me at my last command when, as the Officer of the Day, I had to sign the confining orders of a young Marine who just had been convicted in a General Court Martial of being a lesbian.
I believe by Joining USNA Out and putting a face on who we are, we can show others that we are here, we’ve all been through similar situations, and we may also serve as role models. I’m confident that DADT will soon be abolished and the ban lifted. Then perhaps we may be looked at as a resource to help the military and USNA integrate the new law into their commands.
I am eagerly looking forward to be interred in the U. S. Naval Academy Columbarium so that I am just a stone’s throw from Worden Field where I can hear the U. S. Naval Academy Band play the Marines’ Hymn and dream that I am there marching with the Midshipmen in parades for eternity, and I want my obituary to say that I was ‘an Officer of Marines who… just happened to be gay.’
Please feel free to contact Joe here at USNA Out.