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December 7, 2007 -- Irving woman's Web site helps families share news, photos - Dallas Morning News (Metro Section)

Brenda Cannon has embarked on a new career that combines two loves. She's created a Web site that uses her computer skills to preserve family memories.

The site's success has caught the attention of Fortune magazine, which recently profiled the "Internet Entrepreneur." Plus, the December issue of Essence magazine mentions her Web site.

She's excited ... and amazed.

"I can't believe Fortune came out here for the story," Ms. Cannon, 52, remarked about its visit to her new office her Irving home.

Her success led her to quit her job as a support engineer at Microsoft.

Now the comforts of home replace a corporate cubicle. Photos of her family blanket the walls. It was her family that inspired the career change.

Brenda Cannon started FamilyLobby.com as a way to share photos and news after coming back from a family reunion. She said she hopes churches and other groups start to use the site.

"We had about 200 people at our last reunion in Negreet, La.," Ms. Cannon said. "I'm from a family of seven, and there are 32 grandkids."

After one family reunion, an idea came to her.

"My son and I started talking about how much fun it would be to have a Web site with photos from the reunion and news from family members and so on," Ms. Cannon said.

So she and eldest son Davon Cannon, 30, got to work.

"I told him what I wanted, and he built it," Ms. Cannon said.

Like his mother, Mr. Cannon was intrigued by computers at a young age.

"He got a contract to work the summer of graduation and has been working in the field ever since," Ms. Cannon said.

Both sons are graduates of Irving High.

"My younger son has the aptitude but no interest in computers," she commented about Dakar Cannon, who's two years younger than his brother.

The result of her idea and her son's expertise is familylobby .com. The site is private, so only members can access pages.

They've made the process easy by offering templates that families can customize. In addition to written instructions, Ms. Cannon's soothing voice guides visitors along the way.

Best of all, the service is free. Money comes from advertisers on the site and from extra services and offerings.

"We started with about 300,000 members and now have about 400,000," Mr. Cannon said.

Feedback has been positive, Ms. Cannon said.

Kelly Duncan of Flower Mound notes the benefits are endless.

"I post sports schedules, family news, upcoming events and, of course, tons of pictures," Ms. Duncan said. The site also helps her because she has a blended family with stepchildren whose mother is out of state.

The goal, admits Ms. Cannon, is to deepen familial bonds.

"We aim to connect families whether they are around the corner or around the world," she said.

Ms. Cannon also hopes to attract churches and clubs to her site.

With membership growing, the site is keeping her busy. She's still a workaholic, she'll admit.


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