Women’s History Month – 10Qs with Partner Cherise Poulin

posted March 23rd, 2023 in 4wrd

by Cherise Poulin


Woman at desk

In honor of Women’s History Month we celebrate our women leaders at E4H. Partner Cherise Poulin, Assoc. AIA, shares her story and provides us with a glimpse into her journey and inspiration.

“I love connecting with the clients early on to understand their challenges and opportunities; what keeps their leadership awake at night.”

Partner Cherise Poulin, Assoc. AIA, helps to advance client relationships. Cherise is focused on developing new initiatives and tools to improve marketing and business development processes within the firm. She was integral in the opening of the Philadelphia office.

1. Where did you grow up?

I’m originally from New England and grew up in Worcester, MA.

2. How did you get into design?

Art and math were my favorite subjects throughout primary and secondary school. Initially I thought I would study engineering in college, but statics/dynamics and I were not friends, so I rethought that decision. My undergrad degree is in the Fine Arts and I excelled in my architectural history and design courses. That propelled my career into the design industry.

3. Who influenced you?

Honestly if I look back, my father had a great influence on my passion for architecture, engineering, and construction. He sold construction equipment and I relished the days I could go to work with him and visit clients’ construction sites. He encouraged my passion for math, design, and the arts from a young age. Attending a high school for girls gave me the confidence to pursue whatever career field I wanted; my father always supported my passion to pursue a career field dominated by men and encouraged me to excel and not be held back just because I was one of few women in my classes during undergrad and grad school.

4. Why healthcare architecture?

In 2008 I was given an opportunity by an international design firm to focus my career on healthcare and lead the firm’s marketing, BD, and communication efforts to create a more cohesive message. Healthcare was the largest sector for the firm, so I was intrigued to get involved with such a significant effort. At the time of my hire, unbeknownst to the firm’s leadership, I was terrified to enter a hospital or physician practice. I would later overcome that fear and learn how healthcare design gives back to a large cross section of end users; promoting healing and wellness.

5. What inspires you?

My family has been a great source of inspiration. When I have doubts, my parents are there to remind me of past accomplishments. My cousin is a nurse, learning about her trials and challenges during the pandemic inspired me to push forward and not accept setbacks. Having the support of my family, learning from each other, reflecting on our family who have past, all of it fits together like a puzzle and reinforces what inspires my career and my life choices.

6. What advice can you give young designers?

Work hard and smart; learn work/life balance skills early on in your career; do not be a martyr – it’s ok to say “no” sometimes; take on new and unexplored responsibilities to discover your “super power;” it’s ok to make mistakes as it a critical part of the learning process.

7. Most memorable project?

Although not part of the design team, walking into MSKCC Evelyn Lauder Breast & Imaging Center was the “ah ha” moment of my career. That Sunday afternoon is the day I decided I would always focus on healthcare design. Standing in a calming and caring environment that would heal women with breast cancer – physically and emotionally – changed my perspective about healthcare and medical facilities. When I lost my grandmother to cancer at a young age the ‘cancer ward’ I visited was a scary place – void of color, swift moving medical staff, medical terminology I did not understand, the hospital smell, an air of despair and stress. That was my recollection of a hospital, that is where my fear stemmed from. Standing in the Breast & Imaging Center I felt no fear, the environment was serene and homey. That project changed everything for me.

8. What is your favorite part of the design process?

For me it’s the process before the project award. I love connecting with the clients early on to understand their challenges and opportunities; what keeps their leadership awake at night. And then strategizing how E4H can support their efforts and hopefully become trusted advisors. When we share stories of recent successes that could benefit their environments and the client is nodding along with us, that is fulfilling.

9. Where do you see healthcare design in 5 years?

I see even more consolidation across systems and the need for standards and guidelines that align with vision, mission, and brand. We’re starting to see it, but even more consideration for strategic facility planning / master planning across campuses. And certainly more technology – from advanced and integrated procedure spaces to interactive wayfinding.

10. How do you unplug?

The beach has become my sanctuary. And I don’t mean specifically sitting on a beach or going in the water – the entire atmosphere being at the beach and a part of a beach community is what I find most attractive; it provides me with a way to decompress and reflect.


About Cherise Poulin

Assoc. AIA, Vice President of Client Relationships & Strategy

Cherise excels while engaged in the ever-changing healthcare and health science market, working to best understand our clients’ missions and visions for the future. With more than 20 years’ experience advancing client relationships within the design and planning industry, Cherise is focused on developing new initiatives and tools to improve marketing and business development processes within the firm. Understanding the importance of communication and collaboration, Cherise is adept at disseminating knowledge across all channels to ensure our clients’ overarching goals are consistently realized. Her passion for healthcare innovation is evidenced through published work as well as her dedication to developing creative solutions to client challenges. In her free time, Cherise enjoys cooking inspired by local farmer’s markets, cultural immersion through travel, and spending time with her rescue dog.

see full bio