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Office of the Secretary

Photo of the Cabinet Secretary "The health care needs of the populations we serve may seem vast, but I know that we make a difference when we work together."

— Cabinet Secretary Kathyleen “Kathy” Kunkel


Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced her appointment of Kathyleen “Kathy” Kunkel as Secretary for the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) in January 2019.

Kunkel has worked seven years across different areas of NMDOH, the most recent four as deputy director, overseeing the bureau of behavioral supports, regional offices, litigation management and supported employment at our Developmental Disabilities division. There Kunkel developed a fair hearings bureau, and, as an attorney with a law degree from the University of New Mexico, she provided litigation support, developing legal strategy with the department and working on issues related to various settlements. Kunkel also created the community inclusion manager position, developing and supervising the coordinators and worked on promoting employment of young adults.

In prior jobs at the department, Kunkel was both assistant general counsel and general counsel; she also worked as an assistant attorney general for the State of New Mexico from 2004-2007, focusing on administrative disciplinary hearings and rulemaking hearings as well as legislative analysis.

Kunkel worked eight years at the UNM Health Science Center, beginning as a pediatric social worker and ultimately becoming assistant director of care management services. There she learned firsthand about the health care needs of the people of New Mexico and the dedicated health care professionals who labor to serve them.

Kunkel has a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the College of Mt. St. Joseph, as it was formerly called, and a master’s in social work from Michigan State University.