Aug 24, 2022 By IIDA HQ
Meet 2022 Member of the Year: Alexandra Bonner, IIDA
A leader committed to the industry and community, she contributes an impactful legacy for the next generation.
By IIDA HQ Aug 24, 2022
Published in Awards & Honors

“My love for architecture and design started in elementary school,” says Alexandra Bonner, IIDA, who went on to receive her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design from the Cleveland Institute of Art, followed by a Master of Science in Interior Architecture from Jefferson University, where she also had “the amazing opportunity to study abroad in Denmark”, as she puts it. That was just the beginning of Bonner’s journey, who since then, has returned to her hometown of Philadelphia, to become Associate and Healthcare Interior Designer at FCA. She’s also NCIDQ certified and a LEED Green Associate. That’s just a few of her accomplishments and accolades. Her latest award? That of the IIDA Member of the Year!

Recognizing the efforts of an IIDA Member who has demonstrated outstanding volunteer service through commitment, passion, professionalism, and dedication this award goes to Bonner rightfully and unanimously. “Alex has led and supported so many chapter initiatives—too many to list here,” says Maddie Carver, Ind. IIDA, Vice President of Membership at the IIDA PA/NJ/DE Chapter, and Communications and Business Development Coordinator at KSS. “She is always willing to step in to sit shifts at event check-in’s and is at the front of the line to rock an IIDA PA/NJ/DE shirt as we clean up city parks,” she adds. “She lives and breathes our vision and mission, always striving to create lasting impact, and ensure that our chapter is educating and serving our members both personally and professionally. Most importantly, she continues to lead our members by example and is a true inspiration to us all.”

“Outside of my corporate office responsibilities, I teach as an Adjunct Professor for Drexel University and serve in a variety of volunteer positions, continuously seeking opportunities to mentor and advocate for the profession of Interior Design,” says Bonner. “I have served as Philadelphia City Center Director and Chapter President for the IIDA PA/NJ/DE Chapter, on the Board of Trustees for the Charter High School for Architecture + Design (CHAD) where I was once a student, and actively volunteer with a variety of organizations and programs focused on exposing youth in Communities of Color to creative careers.”


The core of her philosophy stems from personal experience. “At a time in my career when I felt otherwise out of place within this industry, IIDA provided me a space to belong,” she says. “Furthermore, it is especially important to me as a Black designer to represent our possibilities beyond the confines of corporate walls. I am motivated by a desire to represent what a Black professional woman looks like in a predominately white Industry (both for current colleagues and for young aspiring designers) and by the need for advocacy around the specifics of the impact of interior design on the built environment.”

“My mother named me Alexandra which literally translates to ‘helper to mankind,” she says. “Ever since I was a child, I have been drawn to opportunities where I can serve others and impact lives outside of my own. From rocking an orange belt as a Hallway Safety in elementary school to working with coworkers to prepare meals for families at the Ronald McDonald House, finding ways to potentially improve the quality of life for others has always been an integral component of who I am. As I've grown in my interior design career, my motivation to volunteer is still rooted in the value of helping others.”

Understanding the importance of mentorship, Bonner works tirelessly toward inspiring and empowering the next generation to lead change. “The power to carve your professional path is truly within your own hands,” she says, adding: “We must not forget to reach back and bring along those who have yet to decide their futures. We must work to intentionally foster and cultivate an appreciation for art and design in children and young adults of color. Creative careers can no longer be taboo in the realm of options for a ‘financially stable’ adulthood,” she continues, urging leaders, firms, and manufacturers to do more outreach to educate communities of color about the impact of architecture and design. “Improving the pipeline starts before students begin the college application process,” she says.

Through her commitment to contributing to the profession and her burning desire to create spaces of belonging for all, Bonner is an asset to IIDA and an exceptional advocate for the industry at-large. Contributing to an impactful legacy in the community with her focused direction she makes it easy for others to follow her path. In the words of Julianne Peters, IIDA, and PA/NJ/DE Chapter President, and Associate, Architecture & Interiors at Hellyer Lewis Smith: ”She’s an invaluable mentor, consistent supporter, and the biggest IIDA cheerleader I’ve ever met!” Jennifer Kenson, IIDA, and Principal, Healthcare Interiors at FCA describes her as conducting her work with a calm demeanor and a confidence in her expertise. “From day one, I have been impressed with her abilities as a leader,” she says. “We cannot wait to see how her career flourishes and how she leverages her talents at FCA and the interior design community,” she adds. So do we.

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