Echols was born in Auburn, Alabama, attending Auburn High School and later majoring in broadcast journalism at the University of Alabama. She subsequently worked for a radio station in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and television stations in Georgia and Tennessee, including WMAZ-TV in Macon, Georgia. In 1992, Echols began anchoring WFTV's Eyewitness News Daybreak and Eyewitness News at Noon. In 2007, she was named anchor of a new morning news program, Eyewitness News This Morning, on WFTV's sister station WRDQ.
Echols is a breast cancer survivor, and has served as honorary chairman for the Susan G. Komen Central Florida Race for the Cure and was keynote speaker for the University of Central Florida's 2006 Breast Cancer Update conference.
- The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Vanessa Echols, retrieved July 27, 2007.
- Nicole Blake, "Breast cancer survivor to speak", Central Florida Future, October 23, 2006.
- Orlando Sentinel, "WFTV to expand morning news to sister station", retrieved July 27, 2007.
- WFTV, Vanessa Echols, retrieved November 6, 2017.