Lacey Peterson
The Union Democrat

Retired California Highway Patrol Commander Mike Ayala has been named the new chief executive officer of the Tuolumne County Chamber of Commerce.

Ayala, 59, accepted the position Wednesday following the resignation of former CEO George Segarini, who held the position for 17 years.

The Tuolumne County Chamber of Commerce is a nonprofit organization that provides advocacy and support for local businesses.

"The board of directors is pleased that Mike has accepted our offer and we look forward to working with him as the new CEO of Tuolumne County Chamber of Commerce," board chairwoman Margaret Davis said in a statement.

"I'm excited to have the opportunity to serve the citizens and businesses of Tuolumne County in this new role," Ayala said.

Ayala said he feels the appointment makes his time in Tuolumne County come "full circle," in reference to his time with the CHP, where he worked to make the public aware of services the agency provides.

In his post as CEO, Ayala will work to keep people and businesses connected to the chamber. He said he also looks forward to working with local government to promote business.

Ayala retired as commander of the Jamestown CHP office in 2009 after a nearly 30-year career with the agency. He spent more than 10 years in the Jamestown office.

Ayala was raised in San Bruno and then lived in Los Angeles for 10 years. He spent about 18 years in Modesto and moved to Sonora in 1999.

He started as an officer for Westminster CHP in the early 1980s. His career then took him through Hayward, Los Banos, Modesto, Santa Ana, back to Los Banos, Sacramento, Merced, Los Banos for a third time as commander, and finally to Jamestown.

Ayala is a member of Sierra Bible Church, the Kiwanis Club and has been a member and volunteer with the Chamber of Commerce since 1999.

He was a member of the 1999-2000 Tuolumne County Leadership Class and served on the Chamber's Transportation Committee and the Population 2010 Working Group.

Ayala also volunteered with the Local Organizing Committee for the Amgen Tour Stage 4 in Sonora. He is the chairman of the Tuolumne County Transportation Council and president of the Belleview Oaks Mutual Water Company board of directors.

Ayala and his wife, Nancy, live in Sonora and have been married 39 years. They have two adult daughters and three grandchildren.

He will begin his new post sometime next week.