Alumni Profile: Jaime Jaramillo
By Rylee Rodriguez, MCRP ’22
Through making a difference by means of real estate ownership and helping people in need gain individual and familial wealth in her hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico, MCRP Alum Jaime Jaramillo credits her Cal Poly education as the reason for where she is today.
Jaime was first inspired to study urban planning after learning about the sustainability tactics utilized in Curitiba, Brazil by its Mayor, Jaime Lerner. After getting her undergraduate degree in Urban Planning from the University of New Mexico and working in an internship where she had to analyze different academic planning programs, Jaime fell in love with Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing education and campus.
While at Cal Poly, Jaime balanced her academic life and her internship with Lisa Wise Consulting, a local firm that actively supports many CRP and MCRP students. After graduating Cal Poly with a Master’s in City and Regional Planning in 2015, Jaime went on to get a full-time position with Lisa Wise Consulting, where she remained for a little while before getting the opportunity to move back home to New Mexico with a firm focused on long-range planning for communities throughout the state and within the city of Albuquerque. Here, she was introduced to a network of engineers, home builders, and developers that opened her eyes to what else planning had an influence on.
These relationships and experiences gave Jaime an itch to learn more about the process surrounding development and real estate, and how planning plays a vital role in it all. This newfound hankering pushed Jaime to peruse a career in real estate planning that eventually led her to a planning manager role with Homewise.
Homewise is a nonprofit organization and Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) focused on empowering individuals through real estate ownership and education. Its mission is to help create successful homeowners and strengthen neighborhoods so families can improve their long-term financial wellbeing and quality of life. The organization is involved in several projects that range from affordable housing to mixed-use and small-scale commercial developments. It also works to educate clients on building individual, family, and small businesses wealth, as well as provides financial lending support. However, the most meaningful aspect of this organization to Jaime is how Homewise places a particular emphasis on improving neighborhoods of need in Santa Fe and Albuquerque. Being proactive in the communities where she grew up, Jaime feels excited about how she can be a part of the process that makes a positive impact for future generations there.
Acting as a Real Estate Planning Manager, Jaime leads several Homewise teams on the entitlements, acquisitions, and designs for future community projects, sometimes 25 at a time. Her favorite part of her role is getting to be involved in all the different phases, such as working with the different agencies and independent units, as well as touching various realms of the development process.
One of Jaime’s proudest moments as a planner was when there was a groundbreaking for an infill project of 16 townhomes in Downtown Albuquerque, the neighborhood where she grew up in. “It was a really amazing coming together of all these different influences throughout the state to recognize Homewise as making an investment in Downtown Albuquerque, especially as it relates to affordable housing… and bringing in more housing units to Downtown Albuquerque.”
Jaime feels indebted to Cal Poly, as well as extremely lucky to be able to bring the skills she learned from her experiences there to her hometown where she not only can connect to her own roots, but also be able to really understand the people and help in the neighborhoods where it matters most.
When asked about her time at Cal Poly, Jaime promptly noted that “I would not be where I am today without having the experiences I had at Cal Poly. I loved my studios and the hands-on experience working with communities there… The learn by doing mantra of Cal Poly is not just a mantra, it is really a way of life and I owe so much of my abilities to that way of life… The internship I got and then went on to work full time with in SLO, Lisa Wise Consulting, really gave me my foot in the door and introduced me to what professional level planning is really about. It’s so much more than the experience you can get in the classroom. The reason why Cal Poly pushes so hard on learn by doing is because real life experience is taught outside of the classroom.” Jaime went on to joke that, “dedicating long hours in the computer lab definitely prepared me for the real world too!”
Just as readily answered when asked about her time at Cal Poly, Jaime excitedly remarked about her fondest memory in the program. “The trip Mike [Boswell] took us on to Los Angeles to visit the planning department and some of the development projects taking place in Santa Monica comes to mind first!” That trip was a highlight of her time at Cal Poly because of the knowledge she gained about planning, but also the relationships she strengthened with her cohort and the opportunity to extend her network across state lines. “It played a critical role in solidifying those personal friendships and professional relationships for a lifetime.”
If Jaime had to give one word of advice for current and future CRP/MCRP students, she suggests making sure to get involved and be active in the program, and to especially create a strong bond with your cohort. She recommends taking time outside of the classroom to do activities together and to try to stay in contact with each other long after graduation.
When inquired about why be a planner? Jaime effortlessly explains, “because planning is related to everything that we do. There’s so much in everyday life that happens because of planning, good and bad. Being involved in the planning of or public process for a project that surrounds you or is near you or in your neighborhood is so important to making those projects better. Even for those who go through the MCRP/CRP program but decide to not stay in the field of planning, it is [still] so important to your neighborhoods and communities that you stay involved. I feel fortunate for the opportunities that have been presented to me and what I have been exposed to.”
Jaime’s passion for her work and advocacy in improving the cities she grew up in can be heard full heartedly in every word she speaks. Jaime is grateful for her experiences at Cal Poly and the Learn by Doing education she feels made a visible difference in her life and career post-graduation, as well as the friendships, memories, and connections she made. As a word of career advice, Jaime encourages anyone to leave their comfort zone as often as they can, and “learn a new skill, teach yourself a new program or a new discipline, just to strengthen your planning knowledge. You may find something that piques your interest even more!” Planning is a dynamic field full of different avenues, and Jaime is a prime example of how planning can lead to a completely different path that still actively utilizes planning tactics to make an impact in our communities.
Jaime identifies herself as a planner, urbanist, and photographer on the side with a love for traveling. She is happily married and recently grew her family with the addition of a healthy, beautiful baby girl in August 2022. We wish her and her family nothing but happiness in this next phase of her life!