Nationally Recognized Senior Living Design Expert Cynthia Shonaiya Designated as Chair

Maryland Governor Wes Moore has designated Cynthia Shonaiya, AIA, NCARB, Principal at Hord Coplan Macht (HCM), as the first Black Chair of the State Board of Architects. This distinction is a celebration of her 30 years of leadership and dedication to advancing design across the state, and serving the best interests of all its citizens.

“It’s an honor to receive such an esteemed recognition, especially from the place I call home,” said Shonaiya. “My passion for architecture began at a young age, and throughout my career I’ve remained committed to advocating for the next generation of architects, particularly women and minorities. As both a woman of color and an immigrant, myself, I understand the importance of the representation that my identities provide. I look forward to continuing to uplift a diversity of voices during my time as Chair.”

Since joining Hord Coplan Macht in 2000, Shonaiya has devoted much of her career to enriching the lives of senior citizens. She has designed over 250 senior living projects, including independent and assisted living, memory care, active adult, and affordable senior housing developments, as well as university retirement communities. As Market Sector Leader of HCM’s Senior Living and Affordable Housing practice, Shonaiya oversees the nation’s fastest-growing senior living market practice, now #2 in the US. Her award-winning work has contributed to many innovations in the design of senior living communities nationwide, including integrating sustainable practices that enhance indoor environments, health, longevity, and wellness. Her design vision revolves around her conviction that “growing older is not an illness, it’s an aspiration,” and that architecture can provide places for people to age with dignity, vibrancy and enjoyment.

“Cynthia exemplifies genuine design and thought leadership, possessing an admirable capability for identifying essential opportunities and spreading her knowledge through the senior living industry,” said Tim Barnhill, CEO of Hord Coplan Macht. “We are extremely proud to have her as part of our firm and are excited to see the strength of her impact felt on an even larger scale.”

Shonaiya was previously the Vice Chair of the Maryland State Board of Architects. She also serves on the American Institute of Architects Design for Aging Leadership Group, is a juror for several national design competitions, and is a regular speaker at national and regional industry conferences. Throughout her distinguished career, Shonaiya has prioritized mentoring students and emerging professionals and advocated for them along every step of the way. As founder and Chair of HCM’s Student Engagement Committee, since 2006 she has organized outreach events, spoken at career days, and led project tours, mentoring hundreds of high school and college students across the country. She created the “Architect for a Day” program for Baltimore high school students, which received recognition from the AIA’s Office of Diversity & Inclusion as one of the first programs of its type in the industry.

Shonaiya’s extensive knowledge has had a ripple effect throughout her remarkable career journey from a designer to principal and mentor, leading her to receive this esteemed leadership role.



Meet Cynthia Shonaiya

Cindy Shonaiya is a Principal at Hord Coplan Macht and has 30 years of professional experience, spanning three continents. She serves as Market Sector Leader of HCM’s Senior Living and Affordable Housing practice and has been Principal in Charge on numerous Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care, Active Adult and Affordable Senior Housing projects

Stay up to date with our Senior Living Design team and have news and resources delivered to your inbox.