Improving Lives Through Design
In 1977, our founders made a commitment to design spaces dedicated to improving the lives of those in our local communities. Since then, we have designed numerous schools and universities, health parks and hospitals, all types of worship facilities and many other spaces, never forgetting we serve those who see to the well-being and futures of real people. And that’s important to us.
When we design, we envision our friends, family and ourselves experiencing and utilizing the space. We want to not only design for function, but to trigger emotions, like a sense of calm in a hospital where one may face overwhelming odds; to foster a closer connection with God and faith in one’s church; to cultivate potential and the desire to learn in students of all ages.
Serving Those Who Serve Others
At CDH Partners, we’re known for our integrity, authenticity and reputation for outstanding work. And, while we’ve won a few awards, things like growing our global portfolio are not what motivate us. We are focused on serving those that serve others, right here in our own backyard. We are passionate about what we do because we care about the community around us, the true impact we have on those that use the spaces we design and the legacy we leave behind for the next generation.
CULTURE OF CARE
At CDH Partners, we know each of our client’s goals and desires are completely unique. That’s why we tailor our approach—whether it’s architecture and interior design or master planning—to each client and their individual situation. Because we are natural problem solvers, sometimes our suggestions may surprise you. For example, we may recommend the revitalization of an existing space as opposed to building a new one, in order to save costs while planning for growth.
With the kick-off of every project, our team of experienced staff meets with the owner, program management team and user groups to establish project goals and expectations. We work collaboratively with you and your team, gleaning valuable feedback on the overall design approach and using that as the foundation of our design. This process has proved successful year after year, enabling us to create buildings that significantly and positively enhance the lives of those who use them.
COME TO DISCOVER
SEEK TO UNDERSTAND
ACT TO CREATE
ENGAGE TO IMPROVE
AIA, LEED AP
As president of CDH Partners, Melissa is committed to fortifying the firm’s mission to improve lives through design. She uses this clarity of purpose to lead the creation of impactful, award-winning design solutions to help others now and for generations to come. In this role, she manages daily operations and drives performance to execute long-term strategic goals.
As principal in charge of the Education + Research Studio, Melissa applies more than 20 years’ experience across all architectural disciplines to bring her client’s vision to fruition. She prioritizes the creative process and supports creative excellence in the design and production of each project. Melissa excels in building effective teams and leading collaboration between owners, contractors and consultants towards successful outcomes.
Considered one of the industry’s most prolific leaders, Melissa speaks at conferences around the country and regularly contributes to industry publications. She is a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and was appointed to the Georgia Board of Architects and Interior Designers by Governor Deal in 2015. Melissa earned her Bachelor of Science and Master of Architecture (with honors) from Georgia Institute of Technology.
Founding Partner and CEO
One of the three founding partners, Bill serves as managing principal and CEO. After taking an architectural drawing class in high school, Bill never looked back. His aptitude for design, coupled with his deep desire to create beauty in people’s lives, were the catalysts that launched his career.
Bill leads as the strategist and visionary of the firm, responsible for its mission to design for those who strive to improve the lives of others. He is directly involved with quality initiatives including design excellence, sustainability, research and technical delivery. Bill also oversees the firm’s growth, diversification and planning; and he defines its business objectives for performance, collaborative operations and staff development.
Bill’s transparent and honest approach to each project and client is the reason for his success in this competitive field. His leadership has created a firm like no other, focusing on the sectors of healthcare, education, and faith-based facilities, for a reason. His focus has always been on community and working with clients who need help solving problems. But what is most important to Bill is far from ego-driven; it’s the 1.5 million+ people who are touched by CDH projects every week.
Bill earned degrees from the University of Tennessee and Southern Polytechnic State University as an honors graduate. His strong commitment to his clients, as well as his work as an author and speaker, cements Bill’s prominent status in the industry. He was recognized by his peers and named to the College of Fellows in the American Institute of Architects (FAIA) in 2010.
Jonathan joined CDH in 2012 and became a registered architect in 2015, after 15 years in the industry. As a senior associate in the Worship + Community Studio, he partners with clients on their journey from vision to design, then closely monitors each project through construction. His passion, expertise and leadership have helped develop many new business opportunities for his team.
Jonathan knew from a young age that he wanted to use his creative talents to make a positive impact on the world. His most fulfilling, rewarding projects are developed with organizations that want to change their communities for the better. He believes that buildings become a tool for people to make a difference, whether they are a teacher educating their students, a doctor healing their patients, or a minister preaching to their congregation. What’s more, he understands the weight of his responsibility as an architect—to create a space that reflects what matters to its users, touches their hearts and improves their everyday lives.
As the son of a pastor and an elder in his church, Jonathan’s personal connections drive him to help church leaders navigate the process of building facilities. Guided by his grandmother’s words, “You have two ears and one mouth. It’s more important to listen than to talk,” he aims to understand the client, their culture and their needs before determining his approach. He finds ways to make every design unique, from its function to aesthetics, because each building should reflect the DNA of its organization.
Jonathan has created several LEED-certified facilities, including the first LEED Gold Certified USDA Forest Service Building, and he was on the design team for the Solomon Award-winning Toccoa First Baptist Church project. He is a graduate of Leadership Cobb’s class of 2019 and was a member of the Cobb Next Generation Mentoring Program. Jonathan had the unique opportunity to contribute drawings to the Historic American Building Survey, a collection in the Library of Congress, that will stand as part of their record of America’s built environment.
Cheryl has been a human resource professional for 20 years, sustained by a lifetime interest and expertise in psychology and organizational development. As CDH’s HR manager, she aligns HR objectives with its business strategy by directing talent acquisition and development.
Since 2015, Cheryl has been instrumental in cultivating the infrastructure at CDH. She developed the firm’s compensation model, job structure and onboarding process, and she has implemented an electronic benefits platform. Cheryl played a significant role in establishing CDH’s corporate values and is responsible for performance management and employee relations. Through her initiatives, such as the onboarding of new team members and the employee recognition program, Values in Practice (VIP), Cheryl supports not only the HR division, but greater organizational objectives as well.
As a firm, CDH values attentive learning; their collaborative approach is based on listening to client needs. Cheryl uses this concept in her own management style. She says she is happiest when she can empower those around her, whether she is guiding leadership or forging connections between staff. Her experience across multiple industries has taught her the value of allowing others to demonstrate their full capabilities. She believes if you devote time to both learning from and developing others, together you will accomplish more and raise the bar far higher than you ever expected. She feels proud to be a resource for CDH’s passionate and talented designers who truly impact their community.
Cheryl holds a Master of Industrial and Organizational Psychology from the University of West Florida and a Bachelor of Psychology from Montclair State University.
AIA, NOMA, LEED AP
Carine is our project delivery manager and one of our senior associates. She is an award-winning architect in the Education + Research Studio who is known for providing high-quality design and project leadership within multiple building types. In her 19-year career, she has led project teams through all design phases including master planning, programming, contract documents and construction administration. As project delivery manager, she improves the project management methodology throughout the firm by implementing a strategic documentation plan that supports business and technical goals.
Carine believes that client involvement is vital to successful planning. She includes them in the design journey from conception to completion. In this partnership, she is able to clearly understand their needs and communicate the design intent to the team members throughout the design and project delivery process creating an effective collaboration between clients, consultants, colleagues and contractors.
AIA, EDAC, LEED AP, CSSGB
A principal with over 20 years of experience, Mary is an expert in leading and designing in the healthcare industry. She has managed more than 1.5 million square feet of space and more than $1 billion in construction. Mary has extensive administration, design, and project management experience in a variety of project types, her specialty being hospitals and health systems.
As a supporter of patient- and family-centered design, she was featured in a PBS documentary focused on the care of an aging population. Mary is motivated by improving patient care, assuming the role of advocate for her clients, as well as the patient, on all of her projects. Her understanding of evidence-based design and Lean principles aids in developing strong operational and care delivery processes for her clients.
Mary’s path toward architecture started when she was charged with designing a futuristic society in the eighth grade and became crystal clear by the time she started college. Mary’s love of being an architect can be seen at every ground-breaking for a hospital she and her team design. Seeing how much it means to the staff to have a new, functional, state-of-the-art facility that is going to make their lives and those of their patients better, is more than she ever hoped for when her dream began in eighth grade.
Mary has presented research on various health care topics at multiple national health care design conferences including Healthcare Design and ASHE PDC. Mary’s certifications include Evidence-Based Design Accreditation (EDAC), Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED Accredited Professional), and Certified Six Sigma Green Belt (CSSGB). She earned a Bachelor of Science in architecture from Georgia Institute of Technology.
AIA, ACHA, LEED AP
Danny began his career at CDH Partners in 1982. As a senior project manager, he has led hundreds of design projects in the worship and health care studios. He manages all elements of each project, from developing space programs and fee proposals to designing projects and working with contractors on site.
Danny was initially drawn to the healthcare industry as a young adult, while he worked as a hospital orderly. He is passionate about contributing to the healing process, and he has made that the focus of his architectural career. With each project, Danny aims to design spaces that make the greatest impact on patient outcomes and staff retention. He especially excels in space planning and finding effective design solutions within a fixed amount of square footage.
While his responsibilities include developing and supporting client relationships, it is Danny’s own high standards that lead him to treat every client like they are his only client. In turn, they appreciate his honest and straightforward demeanor. Danny says the greatest value he has gained from his extensive experience is turning each question or misstep into a learning opportunity. He brings this lesson into his interactions as a client partner and as a leader.
Danny is an accredited Healthcare Architect and a LEED Accredited Professional. He is a member of the Academy of Architecture for Health and the U.S. Green Building Council of Georgia. He regularly attends regional healthcare conferences, where he enjoys learning more about new principles in mental health care and patient safety. An avid UGA fan, he is always up for stoking rivalries in an office full of Georgia Tech grads!
Principal and CFO
As CFO, Justin heads our operational management and sets sustainable financial practices. He is responsible for managing the profitability and performance for the firm and its leadership. He has a strong financial background managing multimillion-dollar portfolios and effective leadership implementing new policies, making him an adept ambassador for CDH’s interests and growth.
Justin seeks continuous improvement in all facets of business, both for himself personally and for the entire team. Since he joined CDH in 2017, he has used his experience in operations, production and client relations to help establish business stability and drive growth. He excels in identifying and supporting long-term client relationships, developing new business, improving workflow efficiencies, managing project and contract risk, and much more.
Justin enjoys the challenge of analyzing projects and potential opportunities to ensure the firm and each studio are positioned for success. He is accomplished leader and mentor, imparting practical knowledge to show the team how financial performance supports the practice. He actively assists project managers and plays a key role in the creation and administration of the firm’s Resource and Project Planning platform.
With the belief that a sound business is built on the strength of its clients, Justin leads efforts to develop new relationships and improve the client experience. He assists clients who want to evaluate a project’s feasibility, and he has redesigned our customer relationship management system for better opportunity tracking.
Justin received a Bachelor of Business Administration in finance from the University of Georgia. He is a member of the Bartow County Rotary and was recently nominated to Youth Services Chair on its board. Justin is a participant of the Leadership Bartow program class of 2019-2020.
RID, IIDA, EDAC, LEED AP
Paulla is a principal and the director of interior design at CDH Partners. She is responsible for the overall vision of each project. Leading a multi-disciplinary team, she has raised the bar by infusing projects with more creativity and turning spaces into environments each time. After working in the industry for 33 years, Paulla believes good design changes lives. Creating spaces to inspire students and teachers, improving the experience of patients and health care workers, and feeding souls in places of worship are why Paulla became a designer. The mission of serving those who serve others, whether in the field of healthcare, education or worship, is why she joined CDH Partners.
Paulla cares about her clients and the challenges they face. She views every challenge as an opportunity for her to design a solution that makes a positive impact on lives. She specializes in biophilic design, an innovative way to create natural environments in which people live, work and learn. Utilizing Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) principles, Paulla’s forward thinking, award-winning designs maximize environmental performance.
Paulla is a member of the International Interior Designers Association (IIDA) and CoreNet Global. She has received a LEED Accredited Professional designation and an Evidence-Based Design Accreditation & Certification (EDAC), and she has served as a mentor in Savannah College of Art and Design’s Master of Interior Design program. Paulla earned her Bachelor of Science in Interior Design from Kansas State University.
Rhea Jeanne Starnes
Rhea Jeanne joined CDH Partners in 2003, and she has been driven by the opportunity to design spaces that inspire and enhance the daily lives of its users. She has proven to be an invaluable member of the CDH family, and in 2017, she became a senior associate within the Health + Wellness Studio.
As a senior project manager, she works directly with clients, engineers and contractors to lead the team through the design and implementation of health care facilities. She has led several award-winning projects for large outpatient specialty facilities, such as ambulatory surgery centers, imaging centers, cardio-vascular and orthopedic specialties, and numerous hospital-based practices.
Rhea Jeanne excels in navigating the layers and complexity of designing for health care facilities. She designs thoughtful spaces that meet the high standard of health care delivery, incorporate lean processes for maximum efficiency, and add unforeseen value to the project. With every design, Rhea Jeanne plans for the present as well as the future. She says that since future generations will be impacted by the design decisions made today, the architecture should be able to adapt to ever-evolving technology and the environment.
Her compassion for patients helps Rhea Jeanne analyze how each facility can better function for their care. She is acutely aware of the power that the environment can have to calm some of the anxiety that comes with a doctor’s visit and create a more positive experience. When visiting one of her projects, the staff told her about a two-year-old patient who did not need to be sedated for an MRI procedure because he was so engaged with the “positive distractions” she had designed.
The passion and commitment for her work drives her to raise the bar again and again—informing the way she designs, creates, details and manages each project. As accomplished as she is already, Rhea Jeanne feels she still has many more years of impactful work ahead of her. She is excited about the future of design for the everchanging world of patient care delivery.
AIA, LEED AP BD+C
A veteran architect of 34 years, David joined CDH Partners in 1995 and worked his way up to become a principal in 2001. He has taken on a variety of roles for many different projects, and along the way, he developed his expertise in designing places of worship.
Inspired by the uniqueness of each faith-based facility, David and his team find dynamic solutions to the challenges that come with every project. He spends considerable time learning what each client needs and wants, even observing Sunday mornings at the church to get a sense of its people and culture. This deep understanding is instrumental in the design process.
David’s focus has always been to make sure his clients get everything they desire with superior execution. He explores how they want to function as a church and identifies the issues that may block their potential. David understands that churches want to drive peak attendance, so he and his team consider the building’s requirements as well as the parishioners’ desires. With these in balance, they can identify how to use the space by developing a comprehensive master plan.
Most meaningful to David is when he visits one of his completed designs once it is in use. It is a powerful moment when he sees people in his spaces, the children secure and the vision realized. These moments motivate him to explore new ways for a church to stay relevant in their community.
David is a Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) accredited professional. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in architecture from Southern Polytechnic University.