HSD announces the appointment of Alex Castillo Smith as new deputy secretary

SANTA FE — The New Mexico Human Services Department (HSD) today announced the appointment of Alex Castillo Smith as HSD Deputy Cabinet Secretary effective immediately.  

Castillo Smith has earned broad respect among other cabinet secretaries and has strong support for this promotion from within HSD. 

“Alex is a mission-driven, strategic leader who has a strong commitment to serve HSD’s 1,078,858 customers,” said Kari Armijo, acting secretary for the New Mexico Human Services Department. “Her elevation to the deputy secretary is a natural evolution given the leadership she shows every day — as a public servant, she leads with energy, intelligence, imagination and love, which are the values of our department.” 

Castillo Smith has served as the HSD Strategic Planning Director since 2019. She has led strategic processes to achieve HSD’s mission of transforming New Mexicans lives. Her approach to strategic planning carries over her work, including but not limited to primary care payment reform, healthcare workforce expansion, the promotion of health equity, legislative and community partners engagement, and COVID-19 response. 

“I am deeply humbled to serve in this new capacity and am grateful for the trust Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham places with me. I am a first-generation American, lower-income college graduate, and I know I would not be where I am today if not for programs like SNAP, Medicaid and behavioral health, which have supported throughout my life,” said HSD Deputy Secretary Alex Castillo Smith

“I believe in the positive, transformative power of HSD’s programs — and, further, I believe in my 1,430 colleagues at HSD, who are the hardest working, most dedicated, and passionate public servants in New Mexico. I am especially thankful to the great mentors and teachers I have had throughout my career, most recently former HSD Secretary David Scrase, M.D. 

Finalmente, hago e’te trabajo en honor a mi mamá, como testimonio de su lucha y perseverancia, y sé que hay muchos nuevomexicanos que comparten sus experiencias con ella.” 

Service has been central to Castillo Smith’s work as a community organizer, public servant, and in non-profits. Most recently, she served under former President Barack Obama as the Special Assistant to the U.S. Assistant Secretary for Aging at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, advancing aging and disability rights during the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. She also previously worked in Congress, and for an organization that operates public, college preparatory boarding schools for historically marginalized youth.  

At the core of her work is using data and stories to build consensus across differences to achieve health and well-being for communities. Castillo Smith has a Master of Social Work and a Master of Public Health from the University of Washington. She lives in Albuquerque, where she enjoys walking the bosque with her fiancé, dog and cat, and loves green chile in banana bread. Castillo Smith was born on Ais/Ays land — located in what is known today as the state of Florida. 

Castillo Smith is one of 15 public sector leaders from across the country competitively selected for the inaugural class of the Equity Changemakers Institute, a national initiative of the Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS). This leadership development program aims to bolster the capacity of public sector leaders who oversee state-led initiatives to advance health equity for millions of people across the nation.  


We talk, interpret and smile in all languages.  We provide written information to our customers in both English and Spanish and interpretation services are available in 58 languages through our provider, CTS Language Link. For our hearing, and speech impaired customers, we utilize Relay New Mexico, a free 24-hour service that ensures equal communication access via the telephone to individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind or speech disabled.

The Human Services Department provides services and benefits to 1,077,502 New Mexicans through several programs including: the Medicaid Program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Child Support Program, and several Behavioral Health Services.