Staff Members

ADMINISTRATION

  • Chris Cannon

    Executive Director

  • Krystal Mosley

    Bookkeeper & Office Manager

Chris Cannon

Executive Director

SWVA Cultural Heritage Foundation & Friends of SWVA

Chris Cannon is the Executive Director of the Friends of Southwest Virginia and the Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation on behalf of the Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development.

A native son of Southwest Virginia, Cannon has returned to his roots in the Commonwealth to share his passion for tourism, economic and community development with 19 counties and four cities of the region. He leads a team that helps communities identify, develop and market their unique natural and cultural assets through innovative tourism concepts.  In this role, he also serves as the director of Heartwood: Southwest Virginia’s Artisan Gateway, a 55,000 square foot facility that serves the region as a visitor center, artisan marketplace, restaurant and event space.

Prior to returning to Virginia, Cannon served the State of Georgia as the Assistant Director of Tourism Product Development for the Department of Economic Development and a Tourism Project Manager for the Presidential Pathways Region of Georgia – 20 counties in the West Central region. His start within tourism and economic development was as the Director of Communications for the Greater Rome Convention & Visitor Bureau and City of Rome in Northwest Georgia.

From working in a single community to directing statewide programs across 159 counties, Cannon has experience implementing diverse partner-driven projects that complement and build a comprehensive community economy. He is a certified Tourism Marketing Professional with the Southeast Tourism Society and a graduate of the Georgia Academy for Economic Development.

Cannon is a graduate of Shorter College in Rome, Georgia with a degree in Media Studies and Art. He recently became a resident of Bristol, Virginia, and is renovating a 1902 Victorian home in the Solar Hill Historic District to its original glory by following the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. Outside of work, you’ll find him hiking and exploring backcountry trails all over the South.

Krystal Mosley

Bookkeeper & Office Manager

Friends of SWVA

Krystal was born and raised in Asheville, North Carolina. She was homeschooled of which she graduated from in 2005.  After graduation, she began attending Asheville Buncombe Technical Community College from 2005-2007 where she graduated with honors with her Associates Degree in Accounting.  She worked as a bookkeeper in a CPA firm while still living in Asheville. In 2009, she moved to Abingdon, Virginia.  Since then she has continued doing accounting work for various types of companies as well as doing bookkeeping for clients of her own.

She enjoys spending time outdoors running, hiking or biking.  She is also a group fitness instructor at Body Works Fitness and Training in Abingdon, Virginia.  Music is another one of her passions.  She took piano lessons from the age of 6 until she was 17. During those eleven years, she was awarded most outstanding student each year.

In April 2018, she began working with Friends of Southwest Virginia as an office manager and bookkeeper.  She is excited to be a part of this amazing team and all the great work they are doing in our communities!

MARKETING

  • Jenna Wagner

    Public Relations & Marketing Director

Jenna Wagner

Public Relations & Marketing Director

SWVA Cultural Heritage Foundation & Friends of SWVA

Jenna Wagner is the Public Relations and Marketing Director for the Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation and the Friends of Southwest Virginia.

Eager to further the development of Southwest Virginia and explore the tourism assets of all 19 counties, Jenna returned home in the summer of 2016. She spends her days promoting Southwest Virginia to the nation and world as an authentic experience and a destination that yields much more than a simple getaway.

Prior to returning to Virginia, Wagner spent six years in Charlotte, NC pursuing a passion in motorsports. She worked for both FOX Sports 1 and NASCAR Digital Media as a graphic designer and digital marketer.

Jenna studied Media Arts & Designs at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA and attained her masters in Interactive Media from Elon University in Elon, NC. In her free time, you can find Jenna at any race track throughout the United States, racing her stock car or Volkswagen GTI. Grateful for an amazing community, Jenna makes sure that Southwest Virginia is promoted to the nation and the world in the most positive light and inspires others to do the same.

REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT

  • Marcia Dempsey

    Development Programs Administrator

  • Emily Mayo

    Tourism & Recreation Development Specialist

  • Ida Walker

    Tourism & Recreation Development Specialist

Marcia Dempsey

Development Programs Administrator

Friends of SWVA

Marcia Dempsey is the Grants Program Administrator for Friends of Southwest Virginia and provides oversight and support for over $6 million dollars of construction and technical assistance grants through federal, state and private funds. Prior to Friends, Marcia entered the community and economic development field through work in El Salvador through the United States Peace Corps.

Fun Fact:  Marcia can fly a Cessna 172 airplane

Emily Mayo

Tourism & Recreation Development Specialist

Friends of SWVA

Emily is an experienced tourism development specialist with a demonstrated history of working in both private sector and government non-profit organizations. Skills include: facilitator, leadership development, community development, capacity building, tourism development, grant development and implementation, group organization, event planning, small business support and engagement, and public relationship development.

Fun Fact #1: I’ve won some strange events in my lifetime including: a donkey race, a watermelon seed spitting contest and a keg toss

Fun Fact #2: I chose to live in a tent for 2 years before upgrading to a tool shed for one year

Ida Walker

Tourism & Recreation Development Specialist

Friends of SWVA

Idalina Walker is a tourism development specialist with a background in environmental education, natural resource development. She is a Native of Floyd County and an Alum of UVA Wise. Throughout her career she has worked to promote the many natural assets of Southwest Virginia and engage with and learn from community partners. After spending a few years in Northern Virginia, Idalina is overjoyed to be back in the mountains working to develop partnerships and share her passion and energy for Southwest Virginia’s world class outdoor resources. Idalina will be focusing with the western front of the Southwest Virginia region and looks forward to meeting you to discuss exciting collaboration opportunities and ideas to benefit SWVA OUTDOORS.

HEARTWOOD

  • Jamee Gillespee

    SWVA Artisan Marketplace Manager

  • Charles Parker

    SWVA Culinary Ambassador & Chef

  • Gwyn Hill

    Food & Beverage Manager

  • Donna Hensley

    Administrative Assistant

  • Matt Wiley

    SWVA Visitor Center

Jamee Gillespee

SWVA Artisan Marketplace Manager

Guest Services Inc. (GSI)

Charles Parker

SWVA Culinary Ambassador & Chef

Guest Services Inc. (GSI)

At age 5, Chef Charles Parker began following his grandmother around the kitchen. Brought up in Kingsport, Tennessee, he learned early on to cook down-home Southern favorites and also to appreciate the wide range of delicious foods available in the region. Both are reflected in his Restaurant Menus and Specials.  “Taste is the most important thing,” he says, “but it has to look beautiful, too. And we’re lucky around here because we have access to quality, great-tasting ingredients that are fresh and look great on a plate.” At age 16, Parker began working at Skoby’s—a Kingsport culinary icon. He worked his way through East Tennessee State University in kitchens, but studied Business and Law because that was “practical.” During college, he did some project management work that allowed him to stage under chefs in Raleigh, NC and West Palm Beach, FL, which helped to hone his technical skills. After college he went into the business world and left the kitchen behind . . . for a while. Following his heart, he returned to cooking at Alison’s in Abingdon, and then Wildflour as the Sous Chef, then Head Chef himself, before coming to Heartwood in February of 2015. “I love it here,” he says. “I can cook with creativity, and I have the chance to make old Family Dishes in a new way!” Now, Let’s Eat!

Gwyn Hill

Food & Beverage Manager

Guest Services Inc. (GSI)

Gwyn was born and raised in the south; however, after a camping trip to Abingdon, VA, she and her family fell in love with Southwest Virginia. Shortly after returning home, they moved to Damascus, VA.

Gwyn has a passion for baking and cooking which stems from her mother and grandmothers, who always encouraged her to bake with them.  Her biggest accomplishment thus far is owning and operating a café.

With more than 20 years in the industry Gwyn brings years of food and beverage experience and knowledge to the leadership team at Heartwood.  Gwyn’s commitment and desire is to provide the best customer experience while leading a team of strong servers by giving them all the proper tools and guidance. Gwyn graduated from I.T.T. Technical Institute in Maitland, FL with a Bachelors degree in Hospitality Management.

Outside of her day-to-day duties at Heartwood, you can find Gwyn baking something up, on the trails hiking or in the woods hunting.

Donna Hensley

Administrative Assistant

Guest Services Inc. (GSI)

  • 276-492-2418

Matt Wiley

SWVA Visitor Center

Guest Services Inc. (GSI)

Matt Willey – Visitor Services, has been with Heartwood since it opened.  Matt is the first person you see at Heartwood, and is ready to share information about Heartwood and SWVA.  Matt was born and raised in Lowell, MA., and graduated from University of Massachusetts Lowell with a degree in History.  Matt has been providing Visitor Services at museums and visitor centers for over 20 years.  He and his wife moved to SWVA in 2003, and reside in Abingdon.  Matt loves taking his antique Cadillac through the mountains and country roads of SWVA.

THE CROOKED ROAD

  • Debbie Holley

    Administrative Support Specialist

  • Jack Hinshelwood

    Executive Director

  • Jonathan Romeo

    Program Manager

Debbie Holley

Administrative Support Specialist

The Crooked Road

Jack Hinshelwood

Executive Director

The Crooked Road

Jonathan Romeo

Program Manager

The Crooked Road

ROUND THE MOUNTAIN

  • Melissa Mullins

    Program Manager, Cultural Heritage Initiatives

Melissa Mullins

Program Manager, Cultural Heritage Initiatives

Round the Mountain

Melissa Mullins is the newest addition to Friends of Southwest Virginia and ‘Round the Mountain.  Originally from Bristol, TN, she has spent the last 3 years in Washington, DC with the National Archives and more recently with the United States Navy. Melissa has worked primarily in community outreach and is joining us as our Program Manager of Cultural Heritage Initiatives.

Melissa studied History and Spanish at Centre College in Kentucky and later earned her Master of Arts in Museum Studies at Johns Hopkins University.  She helped develop the education and outreach programs at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, KY before moving to Washington. In her free time, she enjoys independent movies, playing videogames, and exploring the outdoors with her dog, Dolly Parton. She is thrilled be back home and to help promote the beautiful region of Southwest Virginia.