SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE, Virginia – The Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce today named Christopher Finley as its new Executive Director. Finley replaces Vicki Gardner who stepped down in July after nearly 17 years at the helm of the 750-member organization.
“We are thrilled to have Chris join the Chamber team,” said Lindsey Coley, Chair of the SMLRCC Board of Directors. “His marketing and public relations expertise, leadership experience and comprehensive knowledge of the Smith Mountain Lake region makes him a perfect fit.”
Finley currently serves as Communications Manager for BAE Systems, an international defense, aerospace and security company based in Radford, where he oversees all aspects of communications and community relations. From 2004-2015, he directed marketing programs for The Willard Companies where he launched multiple award-winning campaigns to position Smith Mountain Lake as a premier vacation and relocation destination.
“I’m very excited about returning to Smith Mountain Lake and for the opportunity to drive tourism and grow business for the Chamber’s members and the community,” said Finley, who served on the SMLRCC Board of Directors from 2011 to 2013. “I look forward to supporting the mission of strengthening the social and economic environment of the community.”
Finley has served as president of the local Public Relations Society of America chapter, on the Marketing and Communication Council for Virginia's Blue Ridge and as PR Chairman for the Roanoke Regional Home Builders Association. He’s currently a director for the Radford Chamber of Commerce.
Finley’s career highlights include being selected in the “Top 20 under 40,” a profile of top 20 emerging leaders by the Blue Ridge Business Journal, being nominated as Advertising Person of the Year by the Roanoke Advertising Federation, and earning 17 PRSA Summit Awards which recognize the best in professional public relations and communications efforts in Southwest Virginia. In 2018, Finley was nominated for the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce’s Distinguished Business Person of the Year Award.
Finley earned a B.A. in Communication from Lees-McRae College in 1996 and an M.S. in Corporate and Professional Communication from Radford University in 2003. For the past 15 years, he’s worked as a part-time adjunct professor in Radford’s School of Communication. He is engaged to Laura Robinson and has a 21-year-old son, John Finley, from a previous marriage.
Coley said Finley will assume his position with the SMLRCC in late October.