Mike Dillender grew up in a blue collar family in a town of less than a thousand people in rural Southeastern Missouri. He attended a predominantly minority school system and is a first generation college graduate in his family. Mike graduated from Charleston, Missouri High School and attended Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN where he earned his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and his commission in the U.S. Navy in 1994.
Mike served in Washington D.C. during the September 11th attacks and was then handpicked by Navy leadership to serve on a newly formed think-tank to develop and brief the Chief of Naval Operations on new strategies and initiatives for the Navy in the post 9/11 environment. In 2002, Mike earned his M.B.A. from George Washington University. He is also a 2006 graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.
Mike was presented with the Meritorious Service Medal by then Secretary of Defense William Cohen for his role in the U.S. response during National Command Authority contingency operations. In 2013, during Mike’s command leadership tours, he led the largest Navy Commander command, Coastal Riverine Squadron Four, which deployed over 550 personnel to simultaneously conduct security operations over four continents. Following that assignment, Mike served as an advanced level strategic planner for the Joint Enabling Capabilities Command (JECC) where he traveled throughout the world to ensure all geographical military command headquarters were functioning with optimal organizational effectiveness.
In 2019, Mike retired as a Captain from the Navy and transitioned into his second career as a financial advisor. He started a small business in Chesapeake, Virginia where he worked as a financial planner assisting active duty service members, retired military, federal employees, and others in their pursuit of lifelong financial security. For several years, Mike has served in key church leadership positions including Deacon and Ruling Elder in the Presbyterian Church of America (PCA). The Dillenders are very active members of Westminster Reformed Presbyterian Church (WRPC) in Suffolk. Mike also currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors at StoneBridge School in Chesapeake.
Mike resides in Suffolk with his wife Susannah, who is a neonatologist, and their two school aged children, Michael Jr. and Mary Ruth.