Alfie Alvarado serves as the Director of YOUR Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs. The Department is the statewide advocate for our veterans’ earned benefits and services.
Alfie was born in Puerto Rico and served 22 years on active duty retiring as the Command Sergeant Major of Madigan Army Medical Center and Troop Command, Joint Base Lewis McChord.
As Director, she is a member of Governor Jay Inslee’s Executive Cabinet and chairs the Washington State Military Transition Council. In this capacity, her agency leads statewide efforts for the seamless transition of service members and their families to Washington State’s communities. She is a member of the Governor’s Results Washington Design Team which addresses the effective delivery of state services to Washingtonians.
Alfie is the recipient of the Army Legion of Merit Medal and Military Order of Medical Merit and state and national awards that include the Governor’s Distinguished Management Leadership Award and the Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary’s Leadership Award. She is currently serving as the President of the National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs.
David Puente Jr., Deputy Director
David Puente Jr. is the Deputy Director of YOUR Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to DVA he served as the assistant director for Labor and Industries, Field Services and Public Safety Division, where he was responsible for 19 field offices throughout Washington.
After his service as a Sergeant in the United States Army Criminal Investigation Command, David joined the Department of Labor and Industries as a fraud investigator in 1992 where his career would expand over the next 28 years. He shifted to the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) and promoted into several positions; safety and health specialist and industrial hygienist, regional compliance manager, statewide compliance manager and deputy assistant director for the division. His path continued as the director of Human Resources and finally served as the assistant director of Field Services and Public Safety.
David has a Bachelor of Science degree in occupational safety and health from Central Washington University. He enjoys serving his community by officiating baseball and football as a member of the Washington Officials Association. He is also a member of the South Sound Football Official Association, Thurston County Youth Football League, and South Sound Umpires Association.
Mary Forbes, Assistant Director
COL (Retired) Mary Forbes graduated from the US Military Academy in 1983, the US Army War College in 2006, and served on active duty with the US Army and the Washington Army National Guard for over 26 years. As the Assistant Director for Veterans Services at the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs, Mary Forbes champions federal and state initiatives to end veteran homelessness. Her efforts have resulted in communities greatly expanding their capacity to serve homeless veterans and significantly reduced the number of homeless veterans in the state over the last four years. As a result of multiple years of community engagement, she was recognized by the White House as a “Women Veteran Leader Champion of Change” in February 2014 and received the Governor’s Award for Leadership in Management in June 2014. Mary’s guiding principles of building partnerships, fostering productive relationships and providing world class customer service at the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs have proven to be successful for veterans and their families in Washington State.
Heidi Audette, Communications and Legislative Director
Born and raised in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, Heidi Audette completed her Bachelor of Science with an emphasis in Public Policy at Montana Tech of the University of Montana. After graduation, she moved to Olympia and took a position with the House of Representatives in the Office of the Speaker. She spent several years in the Speaker’s Office and then moved into the position of House Research Analyst focusing on K-12 Education.
In 2000, Heidi was hired as the Legislative Liaison for the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs. In 2001, she also assumed the responsibilities of the Communications Director. Heidi has been fortunate to work on legislation creating the Armed Forces License Plates and the Veteran Owned Business Registry and on events such as the dedication ceremony for the Washington’s first State Veterans Cemetery and the re-dedication of the WWII Memorial.
Heidi is married with two adult children and lives in the Olympia area.
Mike Kashmar, Chief Financial Officer
Mike Kashmar is a 26 year state employee with budgeting and accounting experience at various agencies. He spent the early years of his public service career as an accountant and an analyst at the Washington State Dept. Of Transportation followed by two years as the Budget Manager at the Department of General Administration. Mike also served 6 years with the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, three as the Budget Manager and three as the Chief Financial Officer during the time of liquor privatization followed by the legalization of cannabis. He is a proud graduate of Saint Martin’s University, has lived in Olympia for 33 years, and is thrilled to be part of the DVA team and the opportunity to “Serve Those Who Served”.
Sarah Conly, Human Resources Director
Sarah joined your WDVA HR Team in 2015 and has almost 20 years of diverse human resources experience at various agencies throughout State government. As the HR/Payroll Director, Sarah is responsible for creating innovative ways to engage all employees and establishing the culture, systems and training that will develop leaders and empower employees to solve problems. In addition, she provides senior level consulting services to our employees.
Prior to joining WDVA, she work at the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), Department of Corrections (DOC) and Department of Ecology. Sarah worked in various positions gaining professional HR experience at all levels of the organization.
In 2007, Sarah completed the Certified Public Managers Program at South Puget Sound Community College, a comprehensive leadership and management program, were she gained professional knowledge in strategic planning, leadership development and employee development. Sarah has extensive training in the Allenbaugh Coaching System model, Performance Coaching. During Sarah’s employment at DOC she was trained to conduct workplace investigations through the Reid Techniques of Interviewing and Interrogation course. Sarah is also a member of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).
Sarah and her husband Brad have one adult daughter Gabi and son in-law Brandon, with three amazing grandchildren, Brandon Jr., Madi and Ellie.
Jeff Kiper serves as the Chief Information Officer (CIO) of Your Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs. Jeff was born in Shenandoah, Iowa and served over 20 years in the US Army, retiring as the First Sergeant for Headquarters and Support Company, 864th Engineer Battalion at Ft. Lewis, WA.
Jeff graduated from the Evergreen State College in December, 1999 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. He assumed the duties of Chief Information Officer in September, 2008. Jeff is married to Yong and has one adult son, Shawn.
Rudy Lopez, Washington Veterans Cemetery Director
Rudy Lopez is a 30-year veteran of the United States Air Force, holding various positions in the medical field including the Air Force Pharmacy Career Field Manager. His assignments include numerous bases stateside as well as overseas in Turkey and Germany. He deployed and served as the 332d Expeditionary Medical Group Superintendent, Joint Base Balad, Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2007, and served as the interim 15 Airlift Wing Command Chief, Hickam AFB Hawaii in 2009.
As the Veterans Cemetery Director, Lopez is responsible for planning, coordinating, and directing the administration and operation of the State Veterans cemetery."Throughout my career I've had the privilege of serving our military members, veterans and their families” said Lopez. “I'm honored and humbled to be given this opportunity to continue to serve that same community of great Americans throughout the inland northwest."
Lopez and his wife both originate from El Paso, Texas, and have one son. The family made Spokane, Washington their new home.
Daniel Knapp, Administrator of Walla Walla Veterans Home
Ron Bergstrom, Administrator of Washington Veterans Home
Ron Bergstrom serves as the Superintendent of the Washington Veterans Home in Port Orchard, WA. He brings to the role diverse and extensive professional leadership experience across the continuum of care, support, and services. This includes leadership, management, planning and development, and construction responsibilities in multiple settings. He has served as the Administrator of Hospitals, Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities, Executive Director of Senior Living Communities, and Vice President and Consultant for Senior Living with a consulting firm, as well as Regional Operations Administrator for Continuing Care for a Health Care System.
Ron shares that his career of service has been shaped by his interest in people, respect and concern for others and their well-being, and his creativity and personal interest in and drive to turn possibilities into realities. Pivotal as well were his associations and experiences as an Operating Room Technician in the U.S. Force. This served to reinforce his commitment to know and do what is right regardless of other demands or influences. While he has a heart for all in need, he is particularly drawn to serving Veterans and older adults.
He holds a Master’s Degree in Business with a concentration in Health Services Administration from Cornell University, a Bachelor’s Degree in Business with a concentration in Human Resources Administration from San Jose State University, and a Certificate in Guardianship from the University of Washington.
While a native Washingtonian, Ron’s career has involved living in several parts of the Country. He and his wife and two daughters are happy to be living again in Washington State. He shares that he is honored and pleased as Superintendent of the Washington Veterans Home to have the opportunity Serve Those Who Served.
Robert Pence, Administrator of Washington Soldiers Home
Robert has worked in healthcare for over 25 years. He started working in a long term care facility as a NAC which led him to further his education. His experience led to his interest in becoming a nursing home administrator so that he could help staff better care for each and every resident.
Robert graduated from Pacific Lutheran University with a degree in Psychology and then he became a social worker in a long term care facility. He also became a business office manager and then an admission and marketing director in long term care facilities. Robert became a nursing home administrator in 2010. His entire career has been in long term care facilities caring for all different types of residents.
Robert has been married for over 21 years and has seven almost grown children. He and his family have lived in the Tacoma area for nearly that entire time. Robert is very excited to have the honor to help serve our veterans and become part of the family at the Soldiers Home.
Patrick, McNabb, Administrator of the Spokane Veterans Home
Patrick wanted to advance his career and returned to Brigham Young University – Idaho to complete his bachelor’s degree in health science. In 2012 an opportunity presented in home health administration in Utah. After 4 years of success Patrick decided to enhance his career as a skilled nursing home administrator. He has been very successful turning facilities around by improving the moral by showing his appreciation to the employees resulting in better resident outcomes. Patrick is confident that by focusing on taking care of the residents and meeting their needs it will result in better quality of life. This has been confirmed by improving the 5 star quality care of the facilities he has operated.
Patrick appreciates the men and women who have previously served and who currently serve in our armed forces and for the noble sacrifice for our freedom. He is honored to serve the men, women and their families who have served our country.
Steven J. Gill, MPA; Administrator
Steven J. Gill is the Veterans Services Administrator and Tribal Liaison for the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs and he first joined the agency in 2001. Steve is a U.S. Army veteran who also has experience in the private sector as a Human Resources Consultant and Human Services Program Manager. Steve is a recipient of the Washington Governor’s Award for Leadership in Management and the Governor’s Award for Customer Service (team award). Steve received and his Bachelor’s in Liberal Arts in 2000 and Master of Public Administration in 2004, both from The Evergreen State College.
Peter G. Schmidt, Psy. D., LMHC; Director, Counseling and Wellness
Dr. Peter Schmidt is Director of Counseling and Wellness Programs for the Washington Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA). He has counseled veterans and family members as a behavioral health subcontractor for the Washington Department of Veterans Affairs in Grays Harbor and Snohomish Counties and also worked with vets during his psychology residency at McNeil Island Corrections Center. Peter is also familiar with higher education as a twice, tenured counselor, psychology faculty, director of counseling, dean and executive director. As cofounder of the Veterans Training Support Center Peter has provided numerous trainings on veteran-related topics. Peter is a veteran of the USAF and Washington National Guard Peter and is proud to serve those who served and their family members. He also has the great honor of working with a great team of people at the WDVA.