There was a time when Cristina Pinzon ’08 expected her career path to lead to law enforcement. “Or maybe intelligence,” she says, thinking back to her years as a high school student in Elizabeth, New Jersey.
“As a teenager, I participated in the Police Explorer program,” she continues, “and I went as far as enrolling in John Jay College of Criminal Justice. I learned pretty quickly that I was on the wrong track, though. I started researching alternative academic programs ranging from education to the performing arts.”
Montclair State caught her eye and after a campus visit, she decided to apply to the Journalism and Digital Media program. “The campus was beautiful, of course,” she recalls. “But I also saw that the broadcast journalism students were being well prepared for their careers. I went through a very competitive application process, and I was thrilled to be accepted.”
Pinzon worked as a line producer for CNBC and an Associate Producer for News 12 New Jersey before joining the communications team of then New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine. Her next role, as a Legislative Staffer for New Jersey’s 20th Legislative District, turned out to be one of her favorite jobs. “It was a major eye opener,” she says. “I worked with stakeholders, helped develop policy, wrote press releases and talking points, and planned events.”
Soon, more opportunities were coming her way. She served as a commissioner and chairperson for the Elizabeth Housing Authority, as a board member and advocacy chair for the Young Women’s Christian Association of Union County, and as trustee of an internationally known nonprofit that provides emergency shelter for women and children who are victims of abuse. In addition, Pinzon has held various senior positions for political campaigns across the State of New Jersey, several of which won by historical margins.
In 2015, Pinzon decided to parlay her skills and experience into a successful public relations and communications firm. Stateside Affairs brings creative marketing solutions, strategic thinking and effective problem-solving to the high-profile organizations, legislators and policy makers on its client roster, a list that includes Queen Latifah, the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless, Governor Phil Murphy and Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver. Pinzon and her team of eight have garnered state and regional attention for their work in public affairs, print and digital communications.
Pinzon has been included on Insider NJ’s list of Top 100 Millennials and NJBIZ’s 40 Under 40 list, recognized by Make the Road New Jersey’s as a Comunidad, Dignidad & Poder leader in immigration advocacy, and received the 2019 Boy Scouts of America Tribute to Women Award.
Pinzon is an alumna of Emerge New Jersey, a premier political training organization for Democratic women in the state. Currently, she serves as an executive board member and Vice President of Latina Civic Action and as executive board member of the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
In 2021, Pinzon was featured in NJBIZ as a Next Generation Leader and in ROI Influencer: Women in Business. The firm was recognized as a finalist in the 2021 Reed Award competition, which recognizes excellence in political campaigning and advocacy.
“It’s hard to imagine that it all started with one client,” Pinzon says about the launch of Stateside Affairs. “The firm grew pretty quickly after that. I thought I would be overwhelmed, but the training I received at Montclair State was top-notch. By the time I graduated, I had produced a show, acted as both reporter and anchor, did photography and editing, and more. I felt prepared for all of my career roles, including starting and growing my own business.”
Among her favorite Montclair State experiences was producing “Carpe Diem,” the University’s award-winning, weekly half-hour magazine show that airs on Comcast and Cablevision. “It was such a big deal to see our work on TV,” she says. “In addition, the classes were small, which made the program and department feel like family. I stay connected with my classmates through social media and I try to attend the annual get-togethers on campus.”
Pinzon makes a point to stay updated on her alma mater’s growth. In fact, as her own business expands – she now has a staff of eight – she hopes to develop working relationships with Montclair State professors and students.
“I especially like seeing how diversity has evolved at Montclair State,” she says. “Diversity is important to my business and I am proud that my own staff reflects Filipino, Colombian and Italian roots. Our perspectives contribute to the firm’s ability to reach communities throughout the state.”
Pinzon’s success is the result of talent, hard work, and the right education. Pinzon would add to this the importance of pursuing things that are outside one’s comfort zone. “This is especially important during your college years,” she advises. “College is your opportunity to meet and learn from experts. Ask as many questions as you can and start building your network!”