WASHINGTON — On Wednesday, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced the appointment of David Puente Jr. as director of the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA), effective February 1, 2023.
Puente, who has served as WDVA Associate Director since February 2020, is an Army veteran who served in the United States Army Criminal Investigation Command and achieved the rank of sergeant. In the role of assistant director, Punte steered the State Veterans Homes program through the pandemic, which began just a month after his appointment. His operational leadership and knowledge helped ensure critical processes were in place to ensure residents of the State Veterans Homes had the critical equipment and supplies needed for their health and safety.
He was also instrumental in bringing organizational change management principles to the agency, which has undergone significant changes in recent years with the addition of several new programs. Puente focuses on improving workplace culture. He serves as a speaker and moderator for the state’s Office of Equity to provide a space for state officials to discuss issues of belonging, diversity, equity and inclusion.
Puente started out in 1992 as a fraud investigator at the Department of Labor and Industry. He then joined the Occupational Safety and Health department and worked as a safety and health specialist and industrial hygienist, conducting occupational safety and health workplace inspections in the field. He continued his promotion within L&I, serving as DOSH Compliance Manager for Region 5 in central Washington, DOSH Statewide Compliance Manager, DOSH Assistant Assistant Director, and Director of Human Resources. In 2018, Puente was named associate director of the Field Service and Public Safety Division, with responsibility for 19 field offices across Washington.
He received the 2017 Governors Distinguished Management Leadership Award for a series of strategies and improvements made to the culture and engagement of L&I employees. In 2019 he received the certification as a Certified Diversity Executive.
Puente holds a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Safety and Health from Central Washington University.
“David’s personal and professional experience are perfectly suited to ensure WDVA’s important work of serving our veterans continues,” said Inslee. “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 is stepping in to replace director Alfie Alvarado-Ramos, who is retiring this month. Alvarado-Ramos was appointed by Inslee in 2013.
“Alfie has been one of my most trusted and valued leaders over the past decade,” said Inslee. “She gave so much of herself in service to our country and state, and I am among the many who owe her an eternal debt of gratitude. I appreciate every day she devotes to the work of WDVA and our veterans.”