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40 Under 40: Meet Cristina Parajon

Updated: Sep 22, 2023

By Craig Landes

Jun 22, 2023

If you are ever feeling uncertain about New Mexico’s future, just look at the latest 40 Under 40 class. It is guaranteed to brighten your outlook.

Each year, Albuquerque Business First recognizes outstanding young individuals via its 40 Under 40 Awards. This accolade is intended to highlight people who not only go above and beyond in their careers, but for their communities.

After a call for nominations from the public, Business First then asked nominees to complete an application. A panel of judges — all previous 40 Under 40 Awards recipients — were assembled to review the applications and compile this year’s class.

The 2023 judges included:

  • Nadine Buerger, executive director, US Eagle Foundation

  • Matt Loehman, executive director, Horizons of New Mexico

  • Kevin Zhou, co-founder/COO, Selflane

Each of the 40 Under 40 recipients were celebrated at a ceremony on May 31 at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa. In the coming days online, you can read more about why each of this year's honorees were selected and how they are helping to improve New Mexico.


Cristina Parajon

Gateway administrator

City of Albuquerque

Dept. of Family & Community Services

Concern for people experiencing homelessness is familiar to most people living in a major metropolitan area, and Albuquerque is no exception. Cristina Parajon is a key point person in addressing those concerns. Born and raised in Albuquerque, Parajon has seen the challenges that face the homeless population her whole life.

As project manager for Gateway, which is currently the City's largest project representing a multimillion-dollar investment into a homeless shelter with wrap-around services, the building will serve 1,000 individuals a day and will offer overnight beds, medical respite, medical sobering, a drop-off for first responders and service provider offices.

What are your favorite hobbies?

I express my creativity through oil painting, with a particular passion for tropical landscapes and vibrant hues. Once a month, I visit Downtown Albuquerque for Art Walk to learn from other local artists. An ideal weekend for me would include spending time outdoors, whether it's hiking with my two dogs or playing a game of tennis.

What makes you one of New Mexico’s most outstanding professionals under 40?

Before the City recruited me to run Gateway, I was a management consultant at one of the top firms in the world, Oliver Wyman. Today, I have applied my finance and leadership skills to serve the City of Albuquerque. At only 26, I occupy a senior position within city government and am the project manager of the Gateway, the mayor’s multimillion-dollar solution to homelessness. With my strong community engagement and research background, I sought the opinions of groups disproportionately affected by homelessness — transgender and Native populations. I brought these groups together along with nonprofit homeless service providers for design workshops, and followed through with a report to guide the Gateway’s architectural design for a more responsive shelter. My team has led multiple strategic decisions for the shelter and advocated for the Gateway through television news, articles, radio and various speaking engagements.

© 2023 American City Business Journals

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