Bios

Lourdes E. 'Alfie' Alvarado-Ramos, Director

Alfie Alvarado serves as the Director of YOUR Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs.  The Department is the statewide advocate for connecting our veterans to their earned benefits and services.

Alfie was born in Puerto Rico and served 22 years on active duty retiring in August 1993 as the Command Sergeant Major of Madigan Army Medical Center and Troop Command, Joint Base Lewis McChord.  During her military career, she was the recipient of awards and decorations that include the Legion of Merit, Order of Military Medical Merit and Expert Field Medical Badge.

Her experience and education center in the management of medical services delivery and human resources management.  She is alumni of the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government Executive Program, the University of Washington Executive Management Program and holds a Master’s Degree in Health Care Administration.  She is a licensed Nursing Home Administrator.

As WDVA Director, Alfie is a member of Governor Jay Inslee’s Executive Cabinet and serves as the Chair of the Governor’s Healthy and Safe Communities Council which is charged with fostering the health of Washingtonians from a healthy start to a safe and supported future and Co-Chair of the Washington State Military Transition Council.

She is the recipient of local, state and national awards including the Governor’s Distinguished Management Leadership Award, the Lifetime Achievement Award for women in the military from the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) and the Veterans Affairs Secretary’s Leadership Award.

Gary Condra, Deputy Director

Gary Condra is the Deputy Director of Your Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to this appointment he served as the WDVA Chief Financial Officer, responsible for accounting, budget, capital projects, compliance, emergency management and risk management.

He joined WDVA in June 1998 as the Associate Superintendent of the Washington Soldiers Home, Orting, Washington. Over time he added Retsil’s business office responsibilities which led to his becoming the Budget and Special Projects Manager for WDVA. He successfully led both the new facility construction at Retsil and the construction of the first State Veterans Cemetery in Medical Lake.

Prior to joining Veterans Affairs, Gary spent 20 years in the United States Army Medical Service Corps and retired in 1998 as a Lieutenant Colonel. In the Army, Gary worked with a number of innovative programs in military healthcare including a system of community based, contractor operated primary healthcare clinics known as PRIMUS; the CHAMPUS Reform Initiative; a local managed health care demonstration program known as Catchment Area Management; and the national TRICARE program which offers managed care, preferred provider network and indemnity insurance program options to military families. During his military career, he was the recipient of numerous awards and decorations to include the Legion of Merit, Order of Military Medical Merit and Meritorious Service Medals.

Gary holds a Masters degree in Health Care Administration from Baylor University and a Bachelors degree from the University of Tennessee. He is a life member of the Military Officers Association of America and a member of the American Legion. He is married to Rebecca and has two adult children Christopher and Sara.

 

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.

 

 Erwin Vidallon, Chief Financial Officer

Erwin Vidallon is the Chief Financial Officer of YOUR Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA). Most recently, he was an Investment Officer with the Washington State Investment Board (WSIB) where he served in that capacity for 7 years. His primary focus was in real estate-related investments globally. He participated in managing the real estate portfolio, including implementation of investment strategies, investment management, monitoring, and overseeing real estate investment partnerships. Prior to his appointment as an Investment Officer, he was WSIB’s Finance and Budget Director for 3 years managing the agency’s budget, accounting and office support services.  He also served with DSHS as the Chief Financial Officer for Western State Hospital.

Erwin has spent more than 24 years in public service in various budget, financial management and operational leadership roles, including Budget Manager for WDVA back in 1998.

He holds a Bachelor’s degree from The Evergreen State College with an educational focus on financial management and organization psychology. He’s also an alumnus of the University of Washington Executive Management Program. He is a proud father of three children.

Heidi Audette, Communications and Legislative Director

Born and raised in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, Heidi Audette moved with her family to Olympia, Washington after graduating from high school.

She completed her Bachelor of Science with an emphasis in Public Policy at Montana Tech of the University of Montana.  After graduation, she moved back to Olympia and was hired by the House of Representatives in the Office of the Speaker.  She spent several years in the Speaker’s Office and was later hired as a 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.  Several months later, 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 children and lives in the Olympia area.

 

Angela Roberts, Human Resources Director

Angela brings many years of Human Resources and Labor Relations experience with her.  She comes to WDVA from the Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC) where she has spent the last four years as their Labor Relations Manager.  Over the course of her 15 year career with DOC Angela held various support staff positions and found her calling in the world of HR when she was given an opportunity to be a Human Resource Consultant Assistant (HRCA) in 2000.  Since then, she continued down the Human Resources path, progressing into professional and managerial HR roles, and never looked back.  She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Management in 2009 through Ashford University’s on-line education program.  She has a true passion for human resources and employee relations and is excited to join the WDVA Team.  She and her husband are natives of western Washington, loyal Seahawks fans, and very proud parents of one son.

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.

Lael Hepworth, Interim Spokane Veterans Home Superintendent and Walla Walla Veterans Home Superintendent

The Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs is proud to announce the appointment of Lael Hepworth as the first Superintendent of the Walla Walla State Veterans Home, scheduled to open in the winter of 2017.  Hepworth previously served as the Superintendent of the Washington Soldiers Home, Orting in 2013 before accepting a position with the California Department of Veterans Affairs.

“Lael’s patient demeanor and genuine compassion for each and every veteran he encounters are just two of the many traits that make him the right licensed nursing home administrator for this position,” said Gary Condra, WDVA Deputy Director. 

Hepworth served nearly ten years in the Army National Guard as a field artillery cannoneer and as motor pool sergeant in a medical unit.

Hepworth, his wife Jenny and their three children will be making their home in Walla Walla and look forward to becoming a part of the community.

 

Ron Bergstrom,  Superintendent Washington Veterans Home

 

 

Willie Slusarski, Superintendent at Washington Soldiers Home

Walter H. “Willie” Slusarski Jr. serves as Your Superintendent at the Washington Soldiers Home in Orting.

Willie joined WDVA in 1996 as a work study in Bremerton, while completing classes at Olympic College, and later received a bachelor of arts degree in Pastoral Ministries from Nazarene Bible College.

While in Field Services he was promoted up to the position of Veterans Benefits Specialist II (VBS) and worked in both the Bremerton Office and the Seattle Regional Office.  He transferred to the Washington Veterans Home in Retsil as the VBS and further promoted to the position of Administrative Assistant (AA5) to the Superintendent.  While at Retsil he completed an Administrator in Training Program and received his Nursing Home License in March of 2014.

In August of 2014 he was reassigned to Washington Soldiers Home, Orting, as the Interim Superintendent, and permanently assigned as the Superintendent in December.

A 25 year veteran of the United States Navy, Willie enlisted in 1971 as a seaman apprentice. He rose to the rank of chief petty officer before entering the Limited Duty Officer Program and commissioning as an ensign. His service included duty as a military policeman and service aboard three submarines, two submarine repair ships, one ammunition ship and two tours at a Trident missile facility. He served until 1996 and retired at the rank of lieutenant.

Willie lives in East Bremerton with his wife. He has three daughters and eight grandchildren.