Mike leads USAA’s Military Affairs Advocacy Group, which develops and executes military advocacy strategy and initiatives empowering proactive support for the military community in alignment with USAA’s business objectives and corporate responsibility strategy. He directs collaborative engagements with key strategic military, government, non-profit and for-profit advocacy groups to ensure USAA is a leading corporate citizen serving the military community. He also manages enterprise-wide programs and projects that sustain relationships between USAA, external partners and military leaders/influencers to promote and enhance USAA’s brand and reputation. Mike most recently led the development and execution of the USAA’s Influencer Engagement strategy.
He’s been with USAA since 2003 when he established USAA’s military communications program; partnering with military media outlets and online military communities to provide financial readiness content and subject matter experts to help service members and their families make good financial decisions through all stages of their military careers.
Mike spent 25 years in the Air Force, both as a noncommissioned officer and officer, before retiring in 2002. While in the military, he served as a base newspaper editor, command newspaper consultant, installation chief of public affairs and staff officer at several major military commands in the United States and overseas. He also served as an associate professor of communications at the Defense Information School where he taught future military public affairs communicators.
Mike has a BAAS degree with an emphasis in journalism and public relations from Southwest Texas State University and a Masters degree in Human Relations from the University of Oklahoma. He serves as the 2017 Chairman of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Council.
Mr. Ayala retired as a Major General in the United States Marine Corps after 36 years of service. He comes to the City of San Antonio with a proven record of success in leading people and commanding large, complex organizations. Prior to his retirement, he commanded all 24 Marine Corps installations worldwide and was selected to lead the Department of Defense’s 2015 Warrior Games assisting the nation’s wounded, ill and injured warriors in their recuperative efforts. His service includes 4 combat tours in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, to include a year as a Senior Advisor, embedded with the 1st Iraqi Army Division.
Past assignments include: Coordinating humanitarian assistance programs in 50 countries throughout Africa, Eastern Europe, the Balkans, the Baltic’s, and the former Soviet Union, Chief of Staff at United States Southern Command leading a staff in the implementation of U.S. national security objectives in 31 countries throughout Central/South America, and the Caribbean to include detainee operations in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, leading a Marine Logistics Group that supported combat operations throughout Iraq, and humanitarian relief operations during the Haiti Earthquake of 2010, supporting Haitian/Cuban refugee operations in Cuba, and supporting law enforcement’s counterdrug efforts along the U.S. Southwest Border.
Mr. Ayala received an MBA from Campbell University, a Masters Degree in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College and a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Texas at El Paso. A native of El Paso, Texas, Mr. Ayala’s personal awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit with “V” Combat Distinguishing Device, the Bronze Star Medal and the Combat Action Ribbon. He received the 2007 Excellence in Military Service Award from the League of Latin American Citizens (LULAC).