John Cherry


Vice President, Community Leadership


As the vice president of community leadership for Leadership Knoxville, John Cherry devotes his time and talents to the development of servant leaders in Greater Knoxville. John oversees the Leadership Knoxville Flagship program, Encore and Consulting & Training services.

John joined Leadership Knoxville in 2018 and has led six Flagship classes; headed the creation and launch of the Encore program; and has planned and facilitated countless leadership development sessions for organizations throughout the region.

He has a background in public relations and served for 21 years in the U.S. Air Force, retiring at the rank of lieutenant colonel. While in the Air Force, he served as a nuclear weapons officer in the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile force. He also served as the Commandant of Cadets for the ROTC program at the University of Tennessee, where he was responsible for curriculum development and delivery for more than 150 cadets.

John earned a bachelor’s degree in theatre from the University of Tennessee and a master’s degree in organizational leadership from Chapman University.


  • Certified Community Leadership Practitioner (CCLP), Association of Leadership Programs
  • Leadership East Tennessee graduate, Class of 2019
  • Leadership Loudon County graduate, Class of 2008
  • Leadership Lompoc Valley, California, graduate, Class of 2000
  • Primary Players Children’s Theatre Group, artistic director
  • University of Tennessee Air Force ROTC Alumni Council
  • UT Chancellor’s Associates member


  • Bachelor’s degree, theatre, University of Tennessee
  • Master’s degree, organizational leadership, Chapman University

Fun Facts

  • Proud Air Force veteran
  • Avid golfer
  • Tennessee sports fanatic
  • Chips & queso connoisseur

John’s servant leadership passion is children’s theatre, and he has volunteered as the artistic director for the Primary Players Children’s Theatre Group in Blount County since its founding in 2005. He is a member of the Air Force ROTC Alumni Council for the University of Tennessee and a member of the UT Chancellor’s Associates.

He and his wife, Melanie, live in Maryville. Their daughter, Alex, lives and works in Los Angeles for MARVEL Studios, and he is a very proud papa.