SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – A retired Army colonel and longtime state employee, Donnie Quintana will now lead New Mexico’s Department of Veterans Services. Quintana’s appointment to the position was announced in a news release from Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office Thursday.

A native New Mexican, Quintana spent over 35 years in the military. Most recently, he’s been the Local Government Division Director the state’s Department of Finance and Administration. Over the last several years, Quintana has played a key role in the oversight of the state’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP).

That program has distributed more than $200 million in funds to help renters around the state. KRQE News 13’s New Mexico News Podcast reported on the program in an October 2022 episode.

Heading up the Department of Veterans Services, Quintana replaces former Secretary Sonya Smith. She left the position in November 2022 to move closer to family.

Of the appointment, Quintana said, “I am extremely humbled and honored to be able to serve New Mexico veterans and their families. I am committed to ensuring we honor their dedicated service to our country and state by advocating on their behalf and supporting them and their families in every way possible.”

According to the Governor’s Office, Quintana previously spent 20 years at the state Economic Development Department in various roles. He’s also held numerous leadership positions within the New Mexico National Guard, including Brigade Commander and Chief of Staff.

Quintana served as part of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, working as the Executive Officer and Corps Commander Senior Mentor for the Afghan National Army. He holds a bachelor’s degree from New Mexico State University.

“Donnie brings decades of leadership experience in both state government and the military to his new role at the Department of Veterans Services,” said Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham in a statement provided Thursday. “As a native New Mexican, a veteran, and a well-respected public servant, his background with both the constituents he serves and the intricacies of state government services will be invaluable. I am grateful for his continued service and look forward to what he will accomplish at the department.”