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A Closer Look

griego-rabyMaria Griego-Raby
Member, Board of Directors, STC.UNM
President, Principal, Contract Associates, Inc.

The STC Board of Directors has many members from the business community who are important contributors to the organization’s mission to nurture innovation and economic development in New Mexico. In fact, sixty percent of the board is comprised of non-UNM members who are current and former business owners, entrepreneurs, CEOs and investors.

Maria Griego-Raby, a member of the STC board since 2008, brings to our board an established track record of business success, a wealth of non-profit experience, and a demonstrated commitment to our community and our state.

As president and principal of Contract Associates, Ms. Griego-Raby helms a 27-employee commercial and office furnishings firm she built from the ground up. For nearly thirty years, Contract Associates has provided furnishings and interior design services to private businesses and government entities of every size and description all over the Southwest and northern Mexico. With a focus on ergonomic, sustainable and energy-saving products, this minority and woman-owned business in Albuquerque’s historic Sawmill/Old Town District can claim many LEED Gold-certified projects as part of its portfolio. Contract Associates has also been recognized as one of Haworth Inc.’s Best in Class preferred dealers, reflecting Ms. Griego-Raby’s relentless drive to develop new business, serve her customers, and educate her employees on the latest trends and technology. Only twenty-five Haworth dealers in the North America can boast this designation, and Contract Associates earns the Best in Class title every year.

Despite her business success, Ms. Griego-Raby also finds time to volunteer with an array of local organizations. In addition to sitting on the STC board, Maria currently sits on the board of directors for Mountain States Insurance, Lobo Development and the Albuquerque Museum. She has previously served on the State of New Mexico Board of Finance, the UNM Hospital Clinical Operations Board of Directors, the UNM Anderson School National Advisory Board and the UNM Board of Regents.

Ms. Griego-Raby’s many professional awards and recognitions include Hispanic Business Magazine’s Top 500 List for Largest U. S. Hispanic Owned Companies, the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce Maxie Anderson Small Business Award, the Minority Business Development Association Regional Director Award, and the U. S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Business Perso of the Year Award. Ms. Griego-Raby has been inducted into the Hall of Fame at UNM’s Robert O. Anderson School of Management, where she received both her BBA and MBA.

You have a wonderful website (www.contractassociatesnm.com). Teamwork is a theme that is consistently mentioned by your staff. This team and community-minded approach to serving your customers has served your professional career very well. How do you think that belief in people translates to your work on the STC board?

“Our motto at Contract Associates is: ‘we’re as much about people as we are about furniture’. I realized early on that without great people, without a great team, we would never succeed. And in my experience, great teams are not born; they are made through mentorship, through coaching, and through personal and professional development. To me, that’s what STC is about—helping great people who can go out into the world and do great things. By providing these young inventors and entrepreneurs with such unique opportunities, we are helping to create more great people who will do extraordinary things for the people of this state.”

Contract Associates is located in the Sawmill neighborhood. The business was one of the first successful businesses (and home-grown too) to move to Sawmill, spurring urban revitalization activity in the area and reinforcing your commitment to connect with your community. Do you see a parallel to what you did and what the University’s community-based Innovate ABQ initiative will do for downtown revitalization and statewide economic growth?

“I grew up in the Sawmill/Old Town neighborhood, so moving my business to this neighborhood 15 years ago was very personal and very exciting. Moving a business into a well-established commercial corridor is usually a safe bet. Moving a business into a desolate, vacant industrial area with no proven track record and a murky future is much riskier, but that’s what revitalization is all about: taking that chance. I wanted to make a real bet on my old neighborhood. That meant being one of the first to take that risk, and it paid off for our business, supporting our culture, our brand and our bottom line, as well as serving as the anchor to the redevelopment effort. So, yes, I’m excited about the Innovate ABQ project and district. The community effort from the city, county, UNM and other private and public partnerships are going to be critical in providing long-term opportunities for our students, community and businesses. This is a very pivotal time for creating, educating and building for our city and state. I can’t wait to see what’s next.”