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.