Jan. 26, 2023
Central Graduate Appointed as Director of state Department of Veterans Affairs
Central Washington University alumnus David Puente Jr. was appointed as the new director of the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA) on Wednesday after serving as the department’s deputy director for the past three years.
Governor Jay Inslee appointed Puente to replace longtime WDVA Director Alfie Alvarado-Ramos, who is retiring this month. Puente’s new role will officially begin February 1.
“David’s personal and professional experience are perfectly suited to ensuring the important work provided by WDVA in service to our veterans continues,” Inslee said in an article that appeared on the Big Country News website. “I appreciate his willingness to serve in this new role and I know he will provide the steady leadership we need during these times of tremendous change.”
Puente served in the Army from 1985-92 and earned a Bachelor of Science in occupational safety and health from CWU in 2000. He spent 25 years with the Washington Department of Labor and Industries—most recently as the assistant director of Field Service and Public Safety—before joining WDVA as deputy director in February 2020.
During his time in the Army, Puente served in the Criminal Investigation Command, achieving the rank of sergeant. In his role of deputy director at WDVA, Puente led the State Veterans Homes program through the pandemic, which began just one month following his appointment. His operational leadership and knowledge helped to ensure that critical processes were in place, ensuring residents in the State Veterans Homes had critical equipment and supplies necessary for their health and safety.
Big Country News also noted that Puente was instrumental in bringing the principles of organizational change management to the agency, which has undergone significant change in recent years with the addition of several new programs. One of Puente’s goals is to improve workplace culture at the WDVA, where he acts as a facilitator with the state's Office of Equity to address topics of belonging, diversity, equity, and inclusion.
He became a Certified Diversity Executive in 2019 and received the 2017 Governor’s Distinguished Management Leadership Award for the strategies he helped implement to improve the culture and engagement of L&I’s workforce.
Media Contact: David Leder, Department of Public Affairs, David.Leder@cwu.edu, 509-963-1518