Staff Members

ADMINISTRATION

  • Chris Cannon

    Executive Director

  • Krystal Mosley

    Operations Manager

  • Donna Hensley

    Administrative Assistant

  • Hunter Dannhardt

    Maintenance

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 the SWVA Cultural Center & Marketplace, 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

Operations 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!

Donna Hensley

Administrative Assistant

Friends of Southwest Virginia

Donna Hensley, born in Wurzburg, Germany, to Air Force parents from SWVA, attended schools all over the world including the longest stints in the Philippines and Napa, California finally making her way back to Wise County to settle and raise her family with 3 children before moving to Abingdon.  After working at a few restaurants in the hotel industry she has found retail and tourism the most enjoyable.  She is currently serving as an Administrative Assistant for Friends of SWVA and will continue to enjoy working in retail for Round the Mountain.
Her hobbies are: flea marketing and antique auctioning all while hunting bargains for DIY shabby farmhouse style projects, helping to flip houses, and her most rewarding pastime is spending time with her grandchildren.
Fun Fact : Donna can operate rollbacks in her sons towing service.

Hunter Dannhardt

Maintenance

Appalachian Reclaimed

Hunter joins the Friends of Southwest Virginia team under his business, Appalachian Reclaimed. Hunter, a ‘Round the Mountain artisan, has helped to design and install works-of-art at Heartwood for the past year.

Hunter, a Bristol native opened Appalachian Reclaimed in 2017 with a focus on telling the story of Appalachia through reclaimed materials from the region.

Appalachian Reclaimed created the LOVE artwork in front of Heartwood, as well as the enhancements to the Southwest Virginia Mountain Brew Bar, located inside of Heartwood in Abingdon, VA. Hunter and his team have also been maintaining the facility of Heartwood and completing the renovations currently underway.

MARKETING

  • Jenna Wagner

    Public Relations & Marketing Director

  • Skylar Dotson

    Marketing Coordinator

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.

Skylar Dotson

Marketing Coordinator

Friends of Southwest Virginia

Skylar Dotson is originally from Marion, VA. She previously studied Nursing at Radford University and now is attending Lindsey Wilson College studying Human Services and Counseling. Skylar is very passionate about Southwest Virginia and enjoys all things art. She loves being creative as well as reading, watching movies, spending time with family, learning new things, and photography. Skylar loves to travel and has been to Nassau, Grand Turk, the Caribbean, Puerto Rico, Half Moon Cay and St. Kitts!

REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT

  • Marcia Dempsey

    Development Programs Administrator

  • Emily Mayo

    Tourism & Recreation Development Specialist

  • Ida Walker

    Tourism & Recreation Development Specialist

  • Charles Parker

    SWVA Chef & Culinary Ambassador

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 a Tourism and Outdoor Recreation Development Specialist for Friends of Southwest Virginia. She is currently working with 12 counties and 2 cities in Southwest Virginia to identify opportunities, build capacity and connect communities to creative economy initiatives. Emily comes to our team with a diverse background in facilitation, outdoor recreation and natural resources management. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Parks and Recreation Administration with a focus on Natural Resources and Recreation Management from Eastern Kentucky University.

The creative economy focuses on innovative business development techniques, and finding successes that no longer rely on limited resources of land, labor and capital.  Through working with the creative economy Emily has been able to work with diverse groups of individuals; from outdoor recreation enthusiast, artisans, and town or county officials. Prior to working with Friends of SWVA she has experienced many forms of leadership. She has been a certified primary group fitness instructor since 2010 and has led unique classes to a wide range of ages; she’s worked at a world class outdoor recreation resort in West Virginia as a guide, manager of zip lines and aquatics, and as team building facilitator.

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.

Charles Parker

SWVA Chef & Culinary Ambassador

Friends of Southwest Virginia

At the ripe ol’ age of 5, Charles Parker fell in love with food!  Each day he would join his grandmother in the kitchen to learn about his southern culinary heritage and to fix his family’s meals. Working in his family farm, going to farmer’s markets, and playing with his family’s heirloom recipes is how he would spend the majority of his free weekends during his youth. 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 the SWVA Cultural Center 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, Charles’ role is expanding to be a culinary ambassador for Southwest Virginia, where he plans to help celebrate and bring more attention to all of our wonderful farmers, growers, and producers.

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.

SWVA CULTURAL CENTER & MARKETPLACE

  • Gwyn Hill

    Cafe Manager

  • Jamee Gillespie

    SWVA Artisan Marketplace Manager

  • Leah Kidd

    Sales, Events, and Programming Coordinator

  • Logan Hardesty

    SWVA Travel Advisor & Visitor Center Coordinator

  • Leigh Campbell

    SWVA Marketplace & Visitor Center Associate

  • Sandra Tate

    SWVA Marketplace & Visitor Center Associate

  • Chase Brown

    Cafe Associate

  • Betty Thomas

    Cafe Associate

  • Caleb Copas

    Cafe Associate

Gwyn Hill

Cafe Manager

Friends of Southwest Virginia

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 the SWVA Cultural Center.  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.

Jamee Gillespie

SWVA Artisan Marketplace Manager

Friends of Southwest Virginia

Jamee is a life-long resident of Southwest Virginia. Before serving as the Artisan Marketplace Manager at Heartwood, she studied Human Services and Early Childhood Education and worked in development art, music, and literature activities for children.
Jamee has always surrounded herself with creativity and has found the perfect niche for that at Heartwood and with the incredible artisans we have in SWVA. At Heartwood, Jamee manages the art inventory and works in artisan relations. She is also an artisan herself, making wooden flowers and bouquets. Her other hobbies and interests include: Creating! (anything from sewing, welding, cooking, painting, and so on), going to concerts, playing guitar and adventuring with her family. Their favorite gem in Southwest Virginia to explore are hidden and well-known waterfalls.
Fun Fact: Jamee has a cat, python, and a mini chicken farm!

Leah Kidd

Sales, Events, and Programming Coordinator

Friends of Southwest Virginia

Leah Kidd, a dreamer at heart and lover of art and design, is the Sales, Events, and Programming Coordinator at the SWVA Cultural Center. Leah graduated with a degree in Family and Consumers Sciences Education from Carson-Newman College. It was during this time that she discovered her love for event design. Prior to returning to Virginia, Leah taught fashion and interior design as well as owning an event design firm for over 19 years. Through these experiences she shared her talents with others by hosting workshops, seminars, and classes in addition to running a successful, growing business. She is renowned as an expert in her field and has been featured on HGTV, Style Me Pretty, Grace Ormonde Style Magazine, Southern Living Wedding and The Knot. Leah is thankful to be back in Southwest Virginia and share her love and passion for events as well as showcasing the beautiful artistry that is unique to Southwest Virginia.

Logan Hardesty

SWVA Travel Advisor & Visitor Center Coordinator

Friends of Southwest Virginia

  • 276-492-2400

Leigh Campbell

SWVA Marketplace & Visitor Center Associate

Friends of Southwest Virginia

Sandra Tate

SWVA Marketplace & Visitor Center Associate

Friends of Southwest Virginia

  • 276-492-2400

Chase Brown

Cafe Associate

Friends of Southwest Virginia

Betty Thomas

Cafe Associate

Friends of Southwest Virginia

  • 276-492-2400

Caleb Copas

Cafe Associate

Friends of Southwest Virginia

  • 276-492-2400

THE CROOKED ROAD

  • Jack Hinshelwood

    Executive Director

  • Jonathan Romeo

    Program Manager

  • Debbie Holley

    Administrative Support Specialist

Jack Hinshelwood

Executive Director

The Crooked Road

Jack Hinshelwood is Executive Director of The Crooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail and has taught, performed, produced and recorded the heritage music of the Appalachian region for almost 40 years. As a musician, Jack manages the Appalachian and Celtic music group Celtibillies  and has toured the USA and Canada with New York Times Best Selling author Sharyn McCrumb.  Their collaboration resulted in “If Ever I Return, Pretty Peggy-O”, Jack’s recording of the ballads from Sharyn’s novel by the same name. Jack has produced numerous recordings of traditional music, liner notes for several recordings, and provided music for two movie sound tracks.

Jack has promoted and presented traditional music for many years including Doc Watson in concert, a cross-genre concert of Celtibillies with German opera tenor Robert Chafin, the Appalachian Music Masters Concert program, and coordinated “CDs to Seabees,” which provided recordings of traditional music from Southwest Virginia to Seabees serving in Iraq.  With The Crooked Road, he produces the annual Mountains of Music Homecoming event, a nine-day celebration of the music, culture and scenic beauty of all the communities in Southwest Virginia. He is also a guitarist, fiddler, and singer and he is a winner of the Knoxville World’s Fair Guitar Championship, the Wayne Henderson Guitar Championship, and a two-time winner of the Galax Fiddler’s Convention guitar contest. Jack graduated with a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Virginia Tech and worked for 23 years as a consultant in civil and environmental engineering, primarily at Olver Incorporated where he was Vice President and Senior Project Manager.

Jonathan Romeo

Program Manager

The Crooked Road

Jonathan Romeo has worked with The Crooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail since 2008 and is responsible for coordinating all activities related to TCR’s Traditional Music Education Program (TMEP) and The Crooked Road On Tour. His interest in folk music of the southern Appalachian region began in 1990 through a year-long residency at Mountain Empire Community College in Big Stone Gap, Virginia. Since that time, he has collaborated with numerous musicians, educational institutions, and communities of Southwest Virginia to celebrate and promote this unique American heritage. He worked as Artist in Residence/ Instructor of Music at Southwest Virginia Community College from 2001–2008 where he initiated a Traditional Music Program and two annual festivals.

Jonathan currently works with several annual festivals including the Tazewell County Old Time & Bluegrass Fiddlers’ Convention (Tazewell, VA), the Youth Music Festival at Heartwood (Abingdon, VA) and Mountains of Music Homecoming – a nine-day region-wide celebration of the music and culture of Southwest Virginia. Jonathan is an instrumentalist and composer of orchestral and chamber music and has written music for concert, ballet, and film. He received a Master of Music (Composition) from Virginia Commonwealth University (1989) and a Bachelor of Music (Composition) from James Madison University (1986). He lives in Tazewell County, VA with his wife and two children.

Debbie Holley

Administrative Support Specialist

The Crooked Road

Deb Holley has worked with The Crooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail since 2015. As the Administrative Assistant, she is responsible for providing clerical support for all programs. Deb is also tasked with providing accounting support for the daily operations of The Crooked Road, as well as making posts and announcements on the organization’s websites and Facebook pages. The Crooked Road is the first non-profit organization that Deb has worked for having had experience in banks, savings and loans, public schools, corporations and LLCs. She has enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about the heritage music of Southwest Virginia and get to know the musicians, venue operators and economic partners of the region. Deb has also served as a contract employee, Assistant Project Coordinator II, for The Crooked Road’s Mountains of Music Homecoming since it debuted in 2015. Deb attended the University of Florida and received her Associate of Arts degree from Valencia Community College in Orlando, FL.  She is a widow and mother of three daughters, and she enjoys spending time with her six grandchildren. She lives with her two dogs on her family’s farm in Meadowview, VA.

The Friends of Southwest Virginia works across a 19 county, four city and 53 town region to preserve, promote and present the cultural and natural assets, click here for more information on visiting our region.
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