2017 Design Excellence Awards | Meet the Moderator

Cheryl Durst, HON. FIIDA, LEED AP

Executive Vice President & CEO
International Interior Design Association

Photo: Jeremy Witteveen, Wittefini.com

An exceptional communicator, innovator, and visionary leader, Cheryl Durst has spurred progress, driven change, and encouraged the expansion of the Interior Design industry. As the Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of the International Interior Design Association (IIDA), Cheryl is committed to achieving broad recognition for the value of design and its significant role in society through both functionality and engagement in everyday work spaces and the built environment. Demonstrated by her active involvement in connecting industry professionals, including designers, manufacturers, clients, end-users, and employers, she has worked to promote an understanding of how design impacts human behavior and affects all aspects of shared spaces.

In 1997, Cheryl joined IIDA as the Senior Director of Education and Professional Development. Promoted to Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer in 1998, she began the task of rebuilding and redefining the organization, which was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy and closure due to tenuous member relationships and organizational mismanagement. Despite these significant challenges, Cheryl implemented an aggressive fiscal redevelopment and turnaround strategy that incorporated a series of presentations, critical member outreach, and transparent communication efforts to earn back stakeholder trust. Through her efforts, she revived the association and re-positioned it as a profitable enterprise, integral to the interior design community and dedicated to furthering the profession of interior design.

Today, with 15,000 members across 58 countries, Cheryl oversees the strategic direction of IIDA, curates and publishes Perspective, the association’s thought-leadership journal, manages a team of 25 professional staff members, leads the 10-member International Board of Directors, and directs all outreach and programmatic efforts, including more than a dozen global design competitions, which recognize worldwide excellence in interior design.

Cheryl’s ability to engage audiences with insight and humor has positioned her as a sought-after keynote speaker, guest lecturer, panelist, and moderator at both domestic and global conferences and seminars. With topics ranging from “The Future of Design” to “The Impact of Culture, Brand, and Place,” her presentations explore the value of design as a social, cultural, and economic force. In addition, she delivered the commencement address at the New York School of Interior Design, receiving an Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts for her contributions to the industry. In May 2017, she delivered the commencement address at the University of Arkansas Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design.

An enthusiastic and energetic volunteer, Cheryl has served numerous boards and committees, including the Kent State University College of Architecture and Environmental Design, Harrington College of Design, US Green Buildings Council, the Kohl Children’s Museum Women’s Board, and the Literacy Foundation of Chicago. She holds dual bachelor degrees in print journalism and economics from Boston University and is a LEED-accredited Professional (LEED AP).

Cheryl is a member of the World Future Society and firmly believes in the connection between place, history, and human behavior, as well as the effect attitude, culture, and design have on shared-space environments. She is the creator and curator of the innovative IIDA series, What Clients Want, which examines the designer/client relationship.

In recognition of her contributions to IIDA and the profession of design, Cheryl was awarded Honorary IIDA Fellowship by the International Board of Directors in 2009. In 2015 and 2017, she was named one of Newcity’s Design 50, an annual list of influencers who promote and present design in Chicago. Cheryl has been referred to by Interior Design magazine as “an ambassador for innovation and expansion, and a visionary strategist.” Citing her leadership in the industry, Cheryl was inducted into the prestigious Interior Design Hall of Fame in 2016.