Kristen Gamboa: Senior economic developer for Los Lunas, inspired by her mother

Kristen Gamboa is the senior economic developer for the village of Los Lunas, assuming the position in December of last year. Gamboa grew up in El Paso, Texas, before heading north to Albuquerque to pursue a degree in business administration and international management. She graduated from the University of New Mexico in 2011. She now lives in Peralta with her three “rambunctious” dogs, one cat and four goldfish. Gamboa is the daughter of Al and Martha Gamboa, both New Mexico residents, and she is engaged to Elliot Fox.

 

Q

 What do you think about when you’re alone in your car?

A

“It’s my meditation space, so whether that means I am mentally preparing for the upcoming day’s events, thinking through a new strategy for an upcoming project/problem, or begging myself to remember to stop and pick up something up from the grocery store later, it’s an integral part of my day.”

 

Q

 What’s a myth about your profession you’d like to bust? 

A

 “Economic development isn’t solely about retail like restaurants and stores. Believe me, I care about those things, too, but my role is to help already established businesses grow and expand, market and attract new economic-base businesses, and develop a regional economic strategy that benefits all of Valencia County because we all live, shop eat, have families and friends all throughout central New Mexico.”

 

Q

 What were you like in high school?

A

“I participated in a whole bunch of clubs and organizations like Honors Society, Key Club, PAWS and Senior Exec. Plus, I took regular and AP courses and stepped outside of my social circle to mingle with all the different high school cliques.”

Courtesy Photo Kristen Gamboa with her brother, Jonathan, in Washington Square Park, New York City. Jonathan, who Gamboa describes as her best friend, moved to New York City just before the onset of the pandemic.

Courtesy Photo Kristen Gamboa with, pictured from left, her mom, Martha, and her aunts, Tia Bea, Tia Lupe, Tia Carmen and Tia Elvira. Gamboa said three of her aunts have moved to Los Lunas since she and her mom relocated to Valencia County so they could be closer to them.

Courtesy Photo Kristen Gamboa enjoying a root beer with her fiance, Elliot Fox, at Los Poblanos in Albuquerque.

Courtesy Photo Kristen Gamboa with Angela Reed Padilla, president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central New Mexico, and Sebastian Martinez, Belen resident and director of fundraising for Big Brother Big Sisters of Central New Mexico, pictured at a golf fundraiser to benefit the organization. Gamboa is a board member for Big Brothers Big Sisters and holds mentorship very close to her hear.

Courtesy Photo Kristen Gamboa kayaking in Elephant Butte Lake with the New Mexico Industrial Development Executives Association.

Courtesy Photo A 1980s-themed baby shower thrown at Kristen Gamboa’s home for her cousin, Jaime, and his girlfriend, Clarissa.

Courtesy Photo Kristen Gamboa with her younger brother, Jonathan, a few months ago when he came to visit her in New Mexico.

Q

What is the best advice you’ve ever received and from whom? 

A

 “I actually think that actions speak louder than words, so since high school those closest to me are genuine, independent thinkers who march to the beat of their own drum. They treat others the way they would like to be treated and that’s how I try to live my life.”

 

Q

 What did you want to be when you grew up? 

A

 “Teacher, fashion designer, doctor, business owner — in that order! There’s still time!”

 

Q

Who inspires you?

A

“My mother, Martha. She’s the kindest, most selfless and hardworking woman that doesn’t let any of the cards life has dealt her stop her from achieving her goals and living a fulfilled and happy life.”

 

Q

 If you could work any other job for one day, what would it be and why?

A

“That’s incredibly tough because I have so many varied interests! Since I’ve been watching the new season of ‘The British Bake Off’ this week, I would love to be a professional baker and cake decorator for the day. If I were watching ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ it would be interning as a surgeon for one day.”

 

Q

What do you do in your free time?

A

“I tend to keep myself pretty busy during the week with work and my volunteer activities so on the weekends it is my chance to relax and decompress, work on home projects, shop, bake, paint, read and travel around New Mexico.”

 

Q

What’s something about you most people don’t know? 

A

“I am not a fan of peas, melon or chocolate chip cookies.”

 

Q

What three books would you to take to a deserted island? 

A

 “Easy! ‘Pillars of the Earth’ by Ken Follet, ‘Gone with the Wind’ by Margaret Mitchell, and ‘Like Water for Chocolate’ by Laura Esquivel.”

 

Q

 You find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do? 

A

“I would spend the first two or three years visiting all the top art museums, oldest libraries and historic castles around the world. After that I would dedicate my time doing philanthropic work for the children of New Mexico.”

 

Q

Who is your best friend and why?

A

 “My younger brother, Jonathan, who moved to NYC right before the pandemic, is and will always be my best friend. We’ve been there for each other since day one and we will continue to do so till the end.”

 

Q

What’s your favorite song to sing when you’re alone?

A

 “It completely depends on my mood, but ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ by Queen, ‘Kashmir’ by Led Zeppelin, or anything by The Strokes always uplift my spirits.”

 

Q

 Where is your happy place, and why? 

A

 “My house is my happy place. I knew from the second I saw it that it would one day be mine. It’s such an inviting environment with the large old cottonwood trees and green grass — it reminds me of growing up by the Rio Grande in El Paso, Texas. The peace and tranquility that exudes from this house is so calming.”

 

Q

Have you had a life-changing experience that led you to where you are today? 

A

 “Life takes you on some strange twists and turns and I am very grateful and happy that it’s led me here to Valencia County, working for the village of Los Lunas with my amazing Community Development team. I’ve always felt that if you put good things out into the universe it will come back ten-fold.”

 

Q

What teacher had the greatest impact on you? 

A

 “My humanities teachers in middle school had the most profound impact on my life. It’s where I found my love of reading, art projects, and creative critical thinking.”

 

Q

 What is your favorite movie scene and why?

A

 “I cannot pick a favorite movie scene but I can tell you my favorite movies that I could watch on repeat over and over again: ‘Marie Antoinette,’ ‘Like Water for Chocolate,’ ‘Gone with the Wind,’ ‘Romeo & Juliette,’ and ‘Armageddon’ — I know the last one is random.”

 

Q

If you could have dinner with one famous person — dead or alive — who would it be and why?

A

“There are so many people on this list but after careful consideration, I would have to choose Michelangelo. His marble artwork is beyond exceptional to the point where I don’t even believe he or any human being created those masterpieces. I would have loved to be a fly on the wall watching him work on his sculptures.”

 

Q

What are you most proud of? 

A

 “I am most proud of the fact that I wake up every morning looking forward to what the day has in store for me, and then at the end of day I come home knowing that I am making a real contribution to my home, to my community.”

 

Q

How would you like to be remembered?

A

“I simply want to be remembered as someone who treated everyone equally and with respect.”

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The Valencia County News-Bulletin is a locally owned and operated community newspaper, dedicated to serving Valencia County since 1910 through the highest journalistic and professional business standards. The VCNB is published weekly on Thursdays, including holidays both in print and online.