Meet Leigh Cunnigham: Smiles For Miles.

After almost 19 years away from the profession, registered architect Leigh Cunningham joins CMH and has not missed a step. She brings with her a contagious sunny disposition and a wealth of project experience. We sat down with this culinary kitchen expert and mother of two to ask her mostly non-embarrassing questions.

Are you originally from Birmingham? Give us a snapshot of your upbringing and childhood.

I am originally from South Carolina. I grew up in the Upstate and moved to the Low Country after graduating college.  After moves to Iowa and Georgia, my family ended up in Birmingham. We have been here for 12 years.

Which of your skills and strengths do you most enjoy utilizing in the workplace?

I graduated from Clemson University and moved to Charleston. I spent several years working on a variety of projects including offices, schools, labs, retail, clubhouses, a church addition, a fire station renovation, and a restaurant. When my oldest daughter was born, I decided to take time off to raise my children.  After almost 19 years away from the profession, I am excited to have the opportunity to return to practice.

Which of your skills and strengths do you most enjoy utilizing in the workplace?

I enjoy working as part of a team to help one another produce a quality piece of work.

What do you hope to learn or how do you hope to grow at CMH?

At CMH, I hope to grow by refreshing the skills that I learned in the past and building on those.  I want to learn how new techniques and technology have helped advance the building industry. 

Who have been your mentors and role models and what have they taught you or how do they inspire you?        

 My parents taught me the importance of being open to experiencing new places, new things, and new people.  They expressed that although new things can seem daunting, we learn so much by engaging in experiences that give us a different perspective on the world.

Outside the workplace, what excites you or holds great meaning for you?

 I love to travel. The world is such a beautiful place with so many fascinating things to see and interesting people to meet.

What do you enjoy most Tell us about your pets.

Unfortunately, we lost our sweet dog Juno last year. 

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

I love to spend time with my family and friends.  Whether it is pizza and movie night with my family, coffee with a friend, or sitting on the porch chatting with my neighbors, I really enjoy just being with the people I care about and getting to know them better. 

What do you enjoy most about Birmingham? 

I think we are blessed to live in such a beautiful city.  I never get tired of the mountains and the views around.

Where is your favorite place to eat in Birmingham? Favorite Meal?

 My favorite place to eat in Birmingham is at my house.  I love to cook and enjoy trying new recipes.  My favorite meal is a slow cooked Italian peppered beef stew called Peposo.  I like it served with mashed potatoes and roasted asparagus. Part of the reason I love it so much is that it makes the whole house smell wonderful.

What one to three books have most greatly influenced your life and how?

Reading Corrie Ten Boom’s book The Hiding Place opened the door to finding a genre of books that have influenced me.  I like to read about ordinary individuals that when placed in difficult situations make use of what they have to help the people around them. I think we can all benefit from the lesson that sometimes it can be the small things we do to help others that make a huge impact in their lives.

What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments of money, time, or energy that you’ve ever made?

I think one of the most worthwhile investments of my time has been volunteering with a widow ministry. I have met some extraordinary women that have some wonderful life experience, wisdom, and stories to share.  They have also taught me how to cook some delicious new dishes.

Paint me a random picture: a treasured childhood memory.

I will always remember how much I enjoyed being in the kitchen with my grandmother, sister, and mother talking and preparing meals or sometimes canning food.  I especially loved when we would all sing together while working in the kitchen. 

What do you like to do when not working?

When I am not working, I enjoy reading and listening to books, cooking, travelling, taking walks, getting together with friends, and family movie night.

Favorite movie, show, or TV series?

I am a bit of an Anglophile and enjoy watching British television. My favorite show to watch is Masterpiece on Sunday nights on PBS.  I started watching it with my mother when I was a teenager.

If faced with the prospect of facing your last day on a death-row sentence, what would you request for your last meal?

My last meal request would be grilled fish tacos from Azul in Charleston, SC.  I have actually had dreams about them. For dessert, I would want some really good cheesecake.

Go Tigers!


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