Mr. Rafael Torres assumed the position of Acting Assistant Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Office of Human Resources and Administration (HR&A) on October 1, 2012. As Acting Assistant Secretary, Mr. Torres leads VA’s unprecedented employee-focused initiative called ADVANCE. ADVANCE offers professional development programs and training to all VA employees and makes it easier for all staff members to improve their careers and support the Department’s transformation. This initiative is a key part of Secretary Shinseki’s effort to transform VA into a 21st-century organization.
Mr. Torres directs and oversees an HR&A team of 750 employees who support more than 300,000 VA employees and 4,000 human resources professionals across the country. To meet the needs of the VA workforce, the HR&A team provides professional assistance in the areas of Administration, Human Resources Management, Diversity and Inclusion, Resolution Management, Labor-Management Relations, Human Capital Investment Plan Strategic Management, Veterans Employment Service, and Corporate Senior Executive Management. In addition, HR&A provides training through the VA Learning University.
As the Acting Assistant Secretary, Mr. Torres also serves as the VA’s Chief Human Capital Officer and the Department's Designated Agency Safety and Health Official and is responsible for administering the Occupational Safety and Health and Workers' Compensation programs.
Mr. Torres has a distinguished career as a leader in human resources management. At VA, he served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for HR&A and Deputy Assistant Secretary for HR&A’s Office of Resolution Management.
Prior to joining VA, he held a wide range of executive positions with the Social Security Administration, where he worked for 29 years. He has extensive experience, both in government and the private sector, in mediation and related alternative dispute resolution methods. Mr. Torres also has a background in project management, quality assurance, and organizational assessment techniques.
Mr. Torres grew up in New York City. He is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Law and a member of the Maryland State Bar Association.