While attending the College of William & Mary, Brian Cannon started the first ever political action committee run entirely by students. The PAC, now five years old, eventually morphed into Virginia21. The nonprofit, nonpartisan group aims to interest young adults in voting issues. It's spread to other colleges and boasts around 46,000 members. "It's basically an AARP for young voters in Virginia," Cannon says.
After graduation, Cannon began teaching history in Richmond, but his life quickly changed when his "political hero," then-Gov. Mark Warner, came calling. "I became his body guy," Cannon says. "If you watch 'The West Wing,' I was Charlie to him. I got to watch him think through public policy questions from a business perspective."
At 25, Cannon seems to understand the Richmond axiom "It's who you know." He was student body president at William & Mary concurrent with Jim Ukrop's term as alumni association president. He often wound up sitting next to Ukrop's wife, Bobbie, who was on the board of visitors. Sure enough, the Ukrops came calling this year, inviting Canon to direct a new program called YRichmond, designed to showcase Richmond and help lure college interns for locally based corporate sponsors.
Jonathan Rhudy, whose PR firm has done pro bono work for YRichmond, says of Cannon, "He's exactly the kind of young, visionary leader that Richmond needs."