Governor Abbott Names Chair, Appoints Five To Advisory Council On Cultural Affairs

May 14, 2024 | Austin, Texas | Appointment

Governor Abbott has reappointed Major General Juan G. Ayala and Adriana Cruz and appointed Joe Esparza and Michael Poku, M.D., to the Advisory Council on Cultural Affairs for terms set to expire on February 1, 2027. Additionally, the Governor appointed Stewart McGregor for a term set to expire on February 1, 2025. The Governor named Esparza as chair and Cruz will continue as vice chair. The Council will advise the Office of the Governor on issues resulting from changes in demographics in the state.

Major General Juan G. Ayala, USMC (Ret.) of New Braunfels is the director of the Military and Veteran Affairs Department for the City of San Antonio. His last assignment on active duty was as the commander of Marine Corps Installations Command at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. He served as inspector general of the Marine Corps, chief of staff of the United States Southern Command, senior advisor to the 1st Iraqi Army Division, plans officer, JTF 6 (Counterdrug Operations), and 4 combat tours in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He is the recipient of the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit with Gold Star and “V” Combat Distinguishing Device, Bronze Star Medal, and the Combat Action Ribbon. While on active duty, he served in Iraq, Africa, South America, Eastern Europe, Germany, Japan and Cuba. Ayala received a Bachelor of Arts in Business from The University of Texas (UT) at El Paso, Master of Business Administration from Campbell University, and Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College.

Adriana Cruz of Austin is the executive director of the Texas Economic Development and Tourism Office within the Office of the Governor. She serves on the board of advisors of the Texas Broadband Development Office and board of the Texas Economic Development Council, and the Texas Freight Advisory Committee. Cruz received a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing from UT Austin.

Joe Esparza of Elgin is the Texas workforce commissioner representing employers. Previously, he served as Texas deputy secretary of state, senior appointments manager in the Office of the Governor, clerk for the City of Lubbock, and field technician for the Texas General Land Office. He is a volunteer for the Native Prairies Association of Texas and Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc. He received an honorable discharge from the United States Marine Corps after eight years of active and reserve service. Esparza received a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Communications from Texas Tech University.

Michael Poku, M.D., of Plano is the chief clinical officer of Equality Health. He is a board member of Woven Health and member of the Texas Medical Association, American Medical Association, American Medical Informatics Association, and American College of Physicians. Poku received a Bachelor of Arts from Vanderbilt University, Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School, and Doctorate in Medicine from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

Stewart McGregor of Forney is executive director of the Kaufman Economic Development Corporation. He is a board member and co-chair of the Texas Economic Development Council – Legislative Committee and member of the International Economic Development Council and Kaufman County Leadership Council, as well as an ex-officio member of the Kaufman Chamber of Commerce. Additionally, he is a member of the Kaufman Church of Christ and Kaufman Lions Club. McGregor received a Bachelor of Arts from Abilene Christian University. Additionally, he is a graduate of the Economic Development Institute at the University of Oklahoma and is a certified economic developer.