IIDA Celebrates EVP and CEO Cheryl S. Durst As She Marks 25 Years As a Leader in the Interior Design Industry
IIDA is honored to announce an important milestone at the association and in the design industry at large: IIDA Executive Vice President and CEO Cheryl S. Durst, Hon, FIIDA is celebrating her 25th anniversary at IIDA, marking a quarter-century of service to designers and a continuing dedication to her role as the optimistic, instrumental voice of the industry.
Today’s IIDA is recognized worldwide as a powerful advocate for design, convening the industry’s brightest minds to tackle inherent challenges; empowering design’s future by promoting greater equity, diversity, and inclusion; and supporting lifelong mentorship and learning for designers around the world. The organization has advanced those roles with Cheryl’s inspirational leadership.
Durst’s arrival at IIDA in 1997 has become the stuff of design world legend: Finding an organization steeped in debt and struggling to survive, she unflinchingly took on those challenges, embracing radical transparency and a policy of fiscal health that paved the way to renewed confidence in the organization. Her focus on member and industry service built deeper relevance for IIDA, even as she assembled a committed Headquarters team in Chicago with impressively varied skills and a singular dedication to IIDA’s mission. Putting her own lifelong love of communication, education, and connection to work, she became an imminent voice in the design world, championing agency, inclusivity, and a foundational belief that design intersects powerfully with our essential humanity.
“Cheryl is a visionary leader for IIDA; for over 25 years she has empowered designers, expanded the organization’s reach, and become the design industry’s North Star,” says Sascha Wagner, FIIDA, Huntsman Architectural Group President and CEO and President of the IIDA International Board of Directors. “Her leadership is informed by empathy—seeking to forge authentic connections, understand others, and allow them to be seen. This quality is also the ultimate goal of design, and she embodies it beautifully.”
During Durst’s tenure at IIDA, the organization has grown to include more than 15,000 members across 58 countries. IIDA has helped to advance legislation impacting the interior design industry; distributed over $445,000 to support local chapters through Catalyst Grants; created 5 scholarship and tuition assistance programs that have awarded over $135,000 to fund design education; and founded a flagship educational pipeline program, Design Your World, to open the doors to design careers for diverse groups of high school students.
“Cheryl is an incredible steward of the design industry—a bold, visionary leader who has spent her career driving broader public understanding of design’s ability to positively impact our lives,” said Todd Heiser, IIDA, Gensler Principal and Managing Director. “She thrives at the edge of what’s next, connecting the ways in which design can be a catalyst and an equalizer as our communities, cities, and world continue to shift.”
Durst has continued to expand her personal contributions in the design world and beyond as well: she is a member of the Board of Trustees for both the New York School of Interior Design (NYSID) and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, as well as Board Member of Chicago’s Marwen Foundation; was named as the first Black woman to the Interior Design Hall of Fame in 2016; and holds an Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts from the New York School of Interior Design and a Diversity and Inclusion Facilitation Certificate from Cornell University.
“I never thought I’d spend 25 years at one organization,” Durst says, “but I have found richness and incredible relevancy in this work and in the boundless, creative optimism in the community we have created at IIDA. I’m thrilled to say that there is undoubtedly more to do. Design has the inherent power to make things better: to create greater equity, offer a sense of place, and bring us together. I’m honored to serve as a conduit to help the design community realize its potential and spread its message to the world. I can’t think of a mission I’d rather be on.”
IIDA is the commercial interior design association with global reach. We support design professionals, industry affiliates, educators, students, firms, and their clients through our network of 15,000+ members across 58 countries. We advocate for advancements in education, design excellence, legislation, leadership, accreditation, and community outreach to increase the value and understanding of interior design as a profession that enhances business value and positively impacts the health and well- being of people’s lives every day. IIDA.org.