top of page
  • Next 100 Colorado

Spotlight on: Chris Talbot-Heindl

Photograph and direction by The Female Shoota. Makeup by Brittany Blaze-Shearz Haircut by Uri Moreno Cattoo by Aura Rain Heindl-Rockman

Hey, y'all! I'm Chris Talbot-Heindl, and my affirming pronouns are they and them. I'm currently the Communications Director and on the Leadership Team at Rocky Mountain Wild, the Editor of Community-Centric Fundraising's Content Hub, and the owner of The Talbot-Heindl Experience, a small company for my spouse and myself to create magazines, chapbooks, educomics, and artwork, and for me to do justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) consulting.

You can find me on my website at, or on Instagram or Twitter at @talbot_heindl.

Photograph and direction by The Female Shoota.

Haircut by Uri Moreno

What do you do for work and how does this work tie into the movement and Next100 CO?

I like to think of my work with all of my jobs and with Next 100 Colorado to be about creating spaces that are ready to celebrate people when they turn up authentically. I've spent 21 years working and volunteering with environmental nonprofit spaces that weren't built with me in mind as a queer, trans nonbinary, mixed-race, and neurodivergent person. I've spent the majority of that time trying to acclimate as a survival tactic. But coalitions like Next 100 Colorado, movements like Community-Centric Fundraising, and organizations like artEquity, Native Wellness Institute, and Justice Outside, all of which I am blessed to have in my network, gave me the permission and the tools to take up space, to use my authentic voice, and to advocate for myself and my communities. I like to think of my work as spreading that reframe to my relatives that have also spent their careers on the margins while advocating and providing training to my relatives who haven't on how they can be accomplices and restructure organizations to be safer, welcoming, inviting, and ready for all of us to show up authentically.

What inspired your career in conservation?

I started a career in the environmental nonprofit industrial complex completely by accident. It began as a one-time contract opportunity passed down to me when I was 19, which opened the door to an internship, which led to a career. But I was called to it once I had the open door because of the experiences of my childhood. My family lived on a street in rural Wisconsin just outside of Green Bay that sat between a slaughterhouse and a dump. My summers were spent playing outdoors like most kids in the 80s and 90s, but often with the smell of either warm blood or decaying trash depending on the direction of the wind. The dump would occasionally burn things (or items would catch fire, not sure which), so we had that as well. I developed asthma over time and in my late teens and early twenties, I had to use an inhaler. In high school, I took an environmental science class, and while we never used the term "environmental justice," I could see the connection and I was 100% in to solve the issues, in whatever way I could. But really, it was by accident. If a door had opened for racial justice or queer rights, I would have leapt with just as much fervor. It just so happened that the environmental nonprofit door opened first.

What needs to be said about Colorado, its history, the outdoors, equity, conservation, inclusivity, etc.?

Ooh! So much needs to be said. I'm a transplant, so I'm still slowly learning the Colorado history from this state's Indigenous elders. The history I learned from Google searches and books was incomplete at best, and complete fiction at worst. So, I think that's what I want to say: Accept that the history you've received from your schooling and from traditional media sources is skewed — sometimes just because of uninvestigated bias and sometimes with malice or for a purpose — to erase the injustices of the past that have impacted our present. Listen and believe marginalized people when they tell you their experience and their history. Be open to that and recognize it as the gift it is rather than getting defensive or feeling guilt or shame from either not knowing (the truth was something taken from you, not something you are guilty of not knowing) or benefiting at others' expense (that was imposed on you, so it's not your fault, but it is your responsibility to combat in any way that you can).

I think a lot of our equity work gets stopped in its tracks because people lean into defensiveness or guilt when confronted with something they didn't learn in school (think: the argument that there are only two sexes or genders — when there is biologically natural variance in sex and gender is a social construct — when it comes to discussions about transgender rights, or the uproar from Governor Polis and others after Black and Indigenous activists toppled the Civil War statue at the Colorado state capitol that named the Sand Creek Massacre as a battle rather than the horrific massacre it was). Now imagine how we could do better work — better equity and inclusion work in the outdoors, in our environmental nonprofits, and in conservation, leading to better and more nuanced solutions — more quickly if people leaned in with curiosity when confronted with new information or different ways of knowing. I think that's the top thing I want to say today. It may be entirely different tomorrow. LOL.

111 views0 comments


bottom of page