Winchell’s last day on the job

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NNSA’s Los Alamos Site Office chief retires

By Carol A. Clark

Today is playing out like any other work day for Donald L. Winchell, Jr.

He’s been on a term limited three-year appointment as the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Los Alamos Site Office manager and said this morning that he’ll finish out today like any other, even though it’s his last day on the job.

Deputy Site Manager Roger Snyder will serve as acting site manager until Kevin Smith comes on board Aug. 29, Winchell said.

Meantime, leisure beckons.

“We’ll travel some but we plan to stay in New Mexico,” Winchell said, adding that he and his wife Donna live in La Mesilla where he purchased land in 1952. “I plan to enjoy life and perhaps do some consulting.”

His responsibilities as site manager included oversight of the Los Alamos National Laboratory with a budget of more than $2 billion, covering 43 square miles, 18 nuclear facilities and various multi-programmatic missions.

One of the biggest challenges Winchell faced during his tenure was finalizing a cooperative agreement with the Los Alamos County Fire Department, which had been in the works for about 11 years.

“What I liked most about the job was working with the people here and at the laboratory…some good folks,” he said. “It’s been a good three years. I’ve enjoyed it.”

LANL Director Michael Anastasio bid farewell to Winchell saying this morning, “I personally enjoyed working closely with Don, and I appreciated his commitment to the shared success of NNSA and LANL.”

LASO has about 125 federal employees.

Prior to his current assignment, Winchell was a Technical Staff Member and Group Leader at LANL. 

Prior to working with LANL, he was the vice president and deputy general manager for operations of Johnson Controls Northern New Mexico, LLC. JCNNM employed 1,500 and was responsible for providing maintenance and infrastructure support to the facilities at LANL.

In 1999, Winchell retired from the U.S. Navy, having completed 30 years of service.

As a nuclear trained officer, his assignments included service on four attack submarines, including a three-year tour as commanding officer of USS DRUM (SSN 677). 

From 1989 to 1991, he commanded Submarine Squadron 22 in La Maddalena, Sardinia, Italy.  

Other tours included program management of a Defense Liaison Division project, Assistant Chief of Staff for Material and Logistic Support for the Atlantic Submarine Force, Executive Officer of the Atlantic Nuclear Propulsion Examining Board and assignment to the Bureau of Personnel.

Born in Maryland, Winchell was reared in Los Alamos and worked as a summer intern at the laboratory while attending Oregon State University. 

He received a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Physics from OSU in 1969.