CONEJOS — Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area announces the appointment of their new full-time Executive Director, Christina Gallegos.
Gallegos is a native of El Valle de San Luis. She grew up in the small farming community of Conejos where seven generations have worked the land. Christina graduated from Centauri High School and received her BA in education from the University of Washington. A long-time community activist and educator, Christina has been a champion for social justice, inclusion and getting kids outside to learn about their environment.
Gallegos taught environmental education for the City of Seattle Parks Environmental Learning Centers since 1998. She was responsible for expanding environmental education in a 300 acre old growth forest, bringing outdoor experiential education to the largest percentage of diverse school-aged children in the city. She spent 16 years building community as the volunteer coordinator for Seattle Parks, where habitat restoration and local community activists found an intersection that created empowerment and environmental changes to neighborhood parks. Gallegos is a trained Challenge Course facilitator; a problem-solving, team building kinesthetic approach to group enrichment. She served as the Co-Lead of the Seattle Park’s Race and Social Justice team; working to dismantle Institutional racism.
In addition, Gallegos provided career exploration workshops to middle and high school youth focusing on “green jobs” and careers in conservation and science. She is a founding member of the “Environmental Professionals of Color,” a group of professionals working to increase the diversity of professionals in the conservation field.
Gallegos also served as board chair for the Community Coalition for Environmental Justice and has participated on a variety of NW panels supporting the efforts and analysis of Environmental Justice in the region. She has participated on the boards of Cleveland Forest, Duwamish River Clean-up Coalition, Manana Coalition, Rainbow Book Festival, and the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center. She is currently a member of the National Environmental Justice Leadership Council on Climate Change and the Center for Diversity and the Environment’s “Environmental Professionals of Color.”
Gallegos’ appointment occurred in October. Since then she has been busy finalizing the Heritage Area Management Plan for submission and approval by the National Parks and Heritage Area supervisors. Once this is completed the plan will be signed and approved by the Secretary of the Interior.
“Although our hope is that Secretary Salazar will sign the Management Plan, we realize that we may be hosting a new secretary by the time our plan makes it through the chain of command, and I would welcome the opportunity to get Sally Jewell up to Mt. Blanca if she’s game!” Tawney Becker, SdCNHA board member and secretary, added “Christina brings a wealth of talents aptly suited to the position of Executive Director for our young heritage area. Her experience in public speaking, historical interpretation and heritage tourism interests are especially relevant to our goals. As a successful volunteer and community organizer, Christina is already broadening awareness of the heritage area and helping us to connect with local residents and their communities. We are excited by her energy and enthusiasm for this work and her passion for the Valley and its culture. We look forward to the relationships Christina will help us build in the local communities as they come forward with their heritage preservation and other project interests.”
Gallegos raised two children, and has three grandsons under the age of four. When not engaged in building community, she enjoys: gardening, camping, fishing, hiking, reading and learning about historical events.
When asked about her goals for the organization, Gallegos said, “I hope to get youth from the Valley engaged not just in documenting the local history, but in the opportunities that exist in this field as a professional; archeologist, historian, documentarian, linguist. I would also like to make the history connection to all those who have left the valley and encourage those who visit to explore the hidden treasures around us.”
Please feel free to drop in and say hello – her office is located in the Conejos Court house – 12987 Count Rd. G.6 or reach her at 719-376-6760.