May 18, 2022 By IIDA HQ
IIDA Celebrates 25 Years with Cheryl Durst
25 things to know about IIDA EVP and CEO as we celebrate her 25th anniversary at IIDA, and mark a quarter-century of service to the interior design industry
By IIDA HQ May 18, 2022
Published in

When Cheryl S.Durst first walked into the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) she was taking a part-time job at a two-year-old organization. Little did she know she’d still be here, 25 years later. In those years of growth and development for both, Durst started at IIDA as the director of education and became the CEO three short years later. During her tenure thus far, IIDA has grown in influence and expanded its global network, now spanning 15,000+ members across 58 countries. Under her guidance and leadership, the Association’s charge is crystal-clear: to support, unite, educate, and advocate for the design profession at large.

“I am committed to being a force for change in design, actively creating new opportunities, facilitating important and challenging discussions, and creating equitable space for all voices to be heard,” says Durst. “I am proud and inspired by our community,” she adds. “And as we are fortunate to work amongst creative, innovative, and compassionate thinkers and doers, we can’t help but be optimistic about our future together.” Having created a future-proof organization designed, nurtured, and grown around people, Durst is ever-ready to steer IIDA in good times and in challenging ones—like she’s been doing for the past 25 years.

In light of this important milestone and to commemorate Durst’s 25th anniversary with IIDA, an event that calls for both reflection on the past and reaffirmation of the vision for the future, we share 25 facts to get to know her a little better. Cheers to the next 25!

1. Cheryl was born in Toledo, Ohio, to a microbiologist mother and educator father.

2. She holds a dual degree in journalism and economics from Boston University.

3. When she was growing up she wanted to be a museum curator.

4. She believes that IIDA's charge is to focus on agency, equity, diversity, and inclusion—and that this starts within the Association’s team and culture. In fact, she holds a certificate in Diversity and Inclusion from Cornell University.

5. When it comes to accessories, she loves bold, statement pieces of jewelry and purses.

6. A sought-after keynote speaker, guest lecturer, panelist, and moderator, Cheryl has written and given hundreds of speeches to the international design community over the last 25 years.

7. She recently joined a roller derby team.

8. After being recognized in Newcity magazine’s “Design 50” list as one of the fifty people who shape Chicago in terms of power and influence, in 2022, Cheryl was inducted into their Hall of Fame as one of the Leaders of Culture.

9. Her office door is always open.

10. She holds three—yes, three—honorary doctorates from the New York School of Interior Design, the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, and the Fay Jones School of Architecture at the University of Arkansas in recognition of her impact on the industry.

11. She has a Bouvier des Flandres dog named Walter.

12. Cheryl was inducted into the prestigious Interior Design Hall of Fame in 2016 as the recipient of its first-ever Leadership Award. She is the first African American woman to be inducted.

13.. She most often wears all black.

14. Interior Design magazine has referred to her as “an ambassador for innovation and expansion and a visionary strategist.”

15. She owns an extensive collection of signature eyewear.

16. During the IIDA Leaders Breakfast series, she has interviewed Matthew Weiner (“Mad Men”), Judith Jamison (Alvin Ailey Dance Theater), Ruth Carter (costume designer for “Black Panther” and all of Spike Lee’s films), and other prominent figures.

17. Cheryl's family often traveled internationally with her and could be spotted at IIDA events around the world.

18. She’s always wanted to be a contestant on the show Jeopardy!

19. During her tenure at IIDA, Cheryl has flown well over a million miles to engage with the international design community.

20. Books are the one thing she can't live without. In fact, over the last 25 years, she has read around 1,000 books.

21 She’s a glass-half-full kind of person.

22. Teaming up with industry partners and educators, she introduced the Design Your World education program to create early exposure and opportunity for BIPOC students to careers in interior design and architecture.

23. A chilled glass of rosé or a Moscow mule are her beverages of choice after a long work day.

24. She will slay you in a game of trivia.

25. Having joined IIDA in 1997, 2022 marks her 25th anniversary with the Association.

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