Colorado Mountain College puts renewed focus on outdoor industry programs
New strategic advisor to help lead CMC into an era of innovation and inclusivity
Chris Castilian has joined Colorado Mountain College as a strategic advisor to better position the college as a premier educational partner in the outdoor industry.
Castilian has long been a staple in Colorado’s outdoor industry bringing 20 years of experience in the public, private and non-profit sectors. He recently announced his departure from Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) after serving four years as executive director.
Prior to leading GOCO, Castilian was appointed by Governor John Hickenlooper to the Colorado Parks & Wildlife Commission, serving as chair in 2015-16. In previous roles, he was deputy chief of staff to Governor Bill Owens and served as executive director of Colorado Counties, Inc.
In addition to and complementary to his new role with CMC, Castilian will become the CEO of the National Ski Patrol on July 12.
“It is such a timely and exciting occasion to welcome Chris to the team at Colorado Mountain College,” said CMC President & CEO Dr. Carrie Besnette Hauser. “His experience, breadth of relationships and creative thinking will push the college to work even more effectively with employers to better prepare our students to become the outdoor industry leaders of tomorrow.”
Castilian’s scope of work includes coordinating CMC’s various outdoor-industry related programs across multiple campuses and a large geographic region. He will work to better align CMC’s academic and training pathways to provide students with meaningful short-term (internships, apprenticeships, etc.) and long-term (career) placements.
“My charge is to amplify the amazing work the college is already doing in Colorado’s mountain communities,” explained Castilian. “CMC was an early leader in outdoor education and has decades of experience not only on the academic side of learning but how important it is to provide practical, affordable and relevant education and training. Frankly, it’s the breath of fresh air Colorado’s economy needs right now.”
In his new strategic advisory role, Castilian will also assist CMC leadership on developing strategies that seek to diversify the outdoor industry workforce pipeline and serve as a model for access, equity and inclusion.
“Having been involved in the outdoor industry for many years, it’s great to see CMC take outdoor industry workforce training to the next level and add someone with Chris’ depth of experience to the team,” said Len Zanni, co-owner at Big Agnes, based in Steamboat Springs.
“I’ve interacted with Chris in various ways over the years and it’s clear that he has his finger on the pulse of the outdoor industry, conservation, public lands stewardship and equitable recreation here in Colorado. We’re excited to see where CMC takes its revitalized leadership approach in the coming years.”
Nathan Fey, director of the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office called Castilian “an unashamed ambassador” of Colorado and all of its residents.” He added Castilian is best situated to advance CMC through strong partnerships, a practiced eye towards policy and legislation, and a commitment to civic engagement.
"Chris brings to CMC a depth of experience and personal passion within the outdoor industry, as well as an impressive career that has centered around supporting businesses and communities across Colorado,” said Fey. “This is exactly what is needed to strategically position CMC as the institutional leader in meeting the real needs of our outdoor economy.”
Castilian is a fourth-generation Coloradan, and is an avid outdoor enthusiast. He has completed the Leadville Trail 100 mountain bike race eleven times and several other ultra-endurance mountain bike races, including the Breck Epic.