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Cristina Parajon appointed director at Human Services Department

July 17, 2023

New division leaders bring experience and passion to serve New Mexico

SANTA FE – The New Mexico Human Services Department (HSD) today announced the appointment of four directors effective immediately. Carolee Graham has been named director of the Administrative Services Division (ASD). Nick Boukas has been named director of the Behavioral Health Services Division (BHSD) and Acting CEO of the Behavioral Health Collaborative. Betina McCracken has been named director of the New Mexico Child Support Program (CSED). Cristina Parajon has been named strategic planning director for HSD.

“HSD is fortunate to have four experienced and capable directors to lead at Human Services Department,” said Kari Armijo,acting secretary for the New Mexico Human Services Department. “Carolee Graham, Nick Boukas, Betina McCracken and Cristina Parajon are each driven by passion and determination to serve the people of New Mexico and we are fortunate to have them as leaders in HSD.”

Carolee Graham is currently a deputy director of HSD’s Administrative Services Department (ASD) and has been the acting division director for the past year. She has over 26 years of financial, accounting and management experience, including 22 years of experience with the Human Services Department.

“I look forward to using my experience and knowledge to further the work HSD provides to the New Mexicans we serve and I’m excited to continue working with such a great team whose focus is to ensure that we can provide the services needed as efficiently as possible,” said Carolee Graham, director of HSD’s Administrative Services Department (ASD).

Nick Boukas has served as the Northeast regional director for the New Mexico Department of Health since 2019. During this time, he helped lead the COVID-19 testing and vaccination efforts. His work with community groups strengthened public health efforts and kept New Mexicans safe. Prior to his tenure with DOH, he worked for local and state governments. Nick lives in Santa Fe with his wife where they enjoy their three dogs, cooking and the outdoors.

“I am humbled and honored to have the opportunity to be part of the Behavioral Health Services Division,” said Nick Boukas, director of BHSD. “I look forward to continuing the efforts to provide New Mexicans with quality services and am grateful to Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and Acting Secretary Armijo for their trust in me.”

Betina Gonzales McCracken is the director of the New Mexico Child Support Program, where she has been serving as the acting director since May 2021. Over the last four years the program has implemented several modernization changes to help parents and children benefit more from the program, including family first distribution and referrals for job development and job opportunities through the STEPUp! program. Betina has been with the New Mexico Human Services Department since 2003, where she began as communications director.

“I am honored and excited to lead the New Mexico Child Support Division and its continued efforts in modernizing the program to help as many parents and guardians as possible with the often-complicated process of obtaining and/or paying child support,” said Betina McCracken, director for the New Mexico Child Support Program. “There are many families who need our services and may not know what we can provide, and to those I encourage them to reach out and find out how the modern Child Support program can make a real difference in their child’s life.”

As a proven public servant, Cristina Parajon has brought her experiences in the public and private sector to some of Albuquerque’s most complex projects. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, she was deputy incident commander of Medical Operations at the largest state quarantine and isolation facilities in New Mexico. As project lead for Gateway Center, the Mayor’s multi-million dollar solution to homelessness, she built out several aspects of the health facility, including the First Responder Drop-Off, community engagement of people experiencing homelessness, and a long-term strategic plan. Born in Albuquerque, Cristina is proud to serve her state. She earned her bachelors in Sociology from Harvard University and a masters in Business and Economics from Tsinghua University as a Schwarzman Scholar. She speaks Mandarin, Spanish, and English.

“I am passionate about serving and bettering our State and I am deeply honored to begin my position as director of strategic planning at HSD,” said Cristina Parajon, strategic planning director. “The dedication of this department impacts positively the lives of hundreds of thousands of New Mexicans and I am excited to join in their work.”

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