Director, Roanoke Outside Foundation; Director of Outdoor Branding, Roanoke Regional Partnership

Pete Eshelman

Pete currently serves as the director of outdoor branding for the Roanoke Regional Partnership and the director of the Roanoke Outside Foundation where he focuses on asset-based economic development.

Pete uses his 25 years in the outdoor industry to help the Roanoke, Virginia leverage its natural assets to attract talent and investment.

This includes having developed, founded the Blue Ridge Marathon – America’s Toughest Road Marathon, Hill Week, GO Cross, and the GO Outside Festival to help build brand recognition for outdoor recreation and increase recognition of the region as a place to live, work, and invest.  The past several years Roanoke was voted Best Outdoor Town, The GO Outside Festival was voted Best Festival, and the Blue Ridge Marathon was voted Best Running Event by readers of Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine.

Pete’s efforts also focus on improving access to the outdoors. Under his leadership the community crowdfunded a kayak launch, a low profile dock, a bike park, and contributed funds to access projects on multiple rivers and lakes.

More recently he started an Outdoor Explorers Mentor Program in partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters with a goal of inspiring the next generation of outdoor users with a focus on social equity.

His work has changed the region’s community narrative to one that places a high value on the outdoors and helped attract, Deschutes Brewery, Ballast Point Brewing, and Humm Kombucha, all of which wanted to locate in a community with a strong outdoor culture.

He serves as the director of the Roanoke Outside Foundation, is a board member with Virginia Tourism Corporation, chairman of the Roanoke Parks & Recreation Advisory Board, the Greenways Commission, is a member of the Regional Bicycle Advisory Committee, and one of 30 Creative Connectors as part of Roanoke’s Creative Communities Leadership Program. Pete frequently consults with other communities on asset and community development.

He’s an avid cyclist – both mountain and road. In his former glory days he was a class V kayaker, mountaineer, guide, and professional ski bum.

Pete Eshelman

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