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CDH Partners Announces New Leadership

Melissa Cantrell named president and Justin McClain named CFO for Marietta-Based Architecture Firm

L to R: Carine Kroko, Melissa Cantrell, Justin McClain

CDH Partners, on the heels of its 42nd anniversary, has named Melissa Cantrell, AIA, LEED AP as President and Justin McClain as CFO. The architecture and interior design firm also announced a leadership promotion for Carine Kroko to Senior Associate and Project Delivery Manager.

Cantrell becomes the firm’s second president since its founding in 1977, and she has served as one of its principals for more than ten years. She will lead the day-to-day leadership and high-level management of studio operations and resources. Her responsibilities will include executing company strategy, operational policy and procedures. Bill Chegwidden, former president and one of the firm’s founding partners, will stay on as CEO.

Chegwidden said, “I’ve always believed that leadership development and cross-training is integral to the company’s growth and success. Without adapting, learning and changing, we wouldn’t be able to meet the needs of our clients. Melissa has been instrumental in growing the Education + Studio and elevating the CDH name in the larger market. She is a proven leader and I know she will tenaciously set and meet impressive goals for this firm.”

As president, Cantrell will fortify the firm’s mission and core values and drive a high-performance management team. She brings more than 20 years of architectural experience and effective leadership skills; as head of the Education + Research Studio, her innovation and integrity in her design projects garnered more than 20 awards. She is a regular contributor to industry events and publications. Recently, she presented at the national Association for Learning Environments conference and was featured in the 2019 Design Equilibrium magazine from AIA Atlanta. Cantrell holds an M.Arch and B.S. from Georgia Tech and has served on the Georgia Board of Architects & Interior Designers since 2015.

CDH has also promoted Justin McClain to principal and CFO. In his new role, Justin will head operational management and establish a vision and purpose for sustainable financial practices. In his previous role as financial manager, he excelled in supporting business development and driving growth. As principal, he will use this experience to manage the profitability and performance of the firm and its leadership, as well as cultivate new client relationships. Justin holds a BBA in finance from the University of Georgia.

Carine Kroko, AIA, NOMA, LEED AP, was promoted to Senior Associate and Project Delivery Manager. Carine joined the firm in 2002, consistently creating and managing high-quality design projects. In her new position, she will increase efficiencies and profitability within the production of design and construction documents, as well as improve project management methodology. Her responsibilities include a comprehensive plan for project documentation to support business and technical goals.

In addition to the promotions described above, the firm announced Ernest “Terry” Biglow will retire effective July 31, 2019. He served as a principal since 2014.

“CDH has served this community with dedication, talent and care over its impressive 42 years,” Cantrell said. “Our team is so special because we are all committed to same goal—to improve lives through our design work. It is an honor and a privilege to continue its legacy and lead this team of architects and interior designers into the next era.”