As Albuquerque comes together to enjoy the International Balloon Fiesta’s festivities, business owners do their best to contribute to their community.

Griffin & Associates — a business that got its start in Albuquerque — is one of the event sponsors, which currently employs multiple University of New Mexico alumni and provides internships to students.

“As a leading communications company, Griffin & Associates is committed to providing the highest level of personalized service to our clients,” said Joanie Griffin, CEO and founder of Griffin & Associates. “We focus on crafting unique marketing approaches to advance the awareness of our clients’ products and services. Griffin & Associates is dedicated to proactive leadership, devising creative media-based solutions to marketing opportunities and consistently assessing the needs and objectives of our clients.”

Griffin & Associates’ vision statement summarizes their philosophy, as they are an extraordinary communications team that produces outrageous results, Griffin said.

“I’ve lived in Albuquerque since 1983; it is my home,” Griffin said. “I love the business community here, and that is why I started the company.”

This is the second year Griffin & Associates will be a sponsor of the Balloon Fiesta, Griffin said. The company will have a corporate tent as a way to thank their clients and vendors.

“We provide pro bono services for many nonprofit organizations including: St. Martin’s HopeWorks, New Day Youth & Families, WESST, Albuquerque Economic Development, the New Mexico Jazz Workshop, Albuquerque Film & Music Experience and TEDxABQ, to name a few,” she said.

When seeking future employees, Griffin looks for people who are passionate about helping companies and organizations thrive, who have a can-do attitude and do what it takes to produce results for their clients, she said.

The UNM alumni that the company has hired over the years possess all of these qualities, Griffin said.

UNM alum and President of Griffin & Associates Dezaree Vega-Garcia said she has worked with Griffin for 15 years and that there were facets of her education that she has been able to apply to her career. But her time at UNM primarily gave her a first step that she couldn’t have gotten any other way.

“I had one professor in particular who was a major influence during my time at UNM,” Vega-Garcia said. “His class gave me the technical skills I needed to enter the industry, and that helped me prepare for success.”

As president, Vega-Garcia’s roles involve new business development, training, putting systems in place to help run the organization more efficiently and effectively and also providing a lot of fulfillment on the accounts, she said.

Vega-Garcia looks for a good attitude first when deciding on a new employee, she said.

“It’s imperative that any employee fit our company culture and be willing to do all aspects of the work,” she said. “The job is not always the most glamorous.”

Griffin’s advice to those who are looking to use their degrees in their post-college career is to stay up-to-date, she said.

“In today’s rapidly evolving world, keep yourself relevant,” Griffin said.

Being a part of the Balloon Fiesta means making Griffin & Associates a part of the community that they love and have chosen to do business in, Vega-Garcia said. It is also a way for them to say, ‘Thank you,’ to their vendors and clients for their continued partnership.

“I’d like to see us grow our public relations department and become known as leaders in marketing the tourism industry throughout the southwest,” Vega-Garcia said of her goals for the company.

As for the students of UNM, Vega-Garcia urges them to understand that receiving their degree is important, she said. But she does not want their learning to stop there.

“Read industry publications, books, blogs, whatever you can get your hands on,” Vega-Garcia said. “This industry is always evolving, and it’s imperative to stay relevant.”

One student who is currently working with Griffin & Associates in their internship program, as well as serving as a contractor, is UNM student Gabe Gallegos, who is looking to graduate in May 2018 with a degree in strategic communication.

“I actually got connected with Joanie Griffin through a class I took though the strategic communications program, and that’s how I got into the firm and got my foot into the door,” he said.

Gallegos’ position has been focusing on social media marketing, he said.

“What’s great is they’re all small businesses and tourism destinations in New Mexico,” Gallegos said. “I feel like I’m a part of a solution in this state with the work I’ve been doing.”

His position is to help these businesses maintain a solid social media plan and ensure they are reaching out to new markets, he said.

Griffin & Associates contributes quite a bit to the community, Gallegos said. The contributions are not limited to sponsorship of events such as the Balloon Fiesta, but are also done through the founder, who has been a longtime community advocate, he said.

“This is a firm way to give back to the community that has given so much to us, and I’m just so glad to be a part of it,” he said.

Receiving an internship is one of the most important things one can do in college, Gallegos said.

“Getting multiple internships is very important, because you can kind of see and feel out what you want to do,” he said.

After completing multiple internships, Gallegos said he realized he really wanted to give the private marketing world a try.

“You can never get connected with these awesome firms in Albuquerque, like Griffin and Associates, without putting your name out there and yourself, without being brave enough to do that,” Gallegos said.

Nichole Harwood is a news and culture beat reporter at the Daily Lobo. She primarily covers alumni and art features. She can be contacted at, or on Twitter