Bluff City native Anna Cardona works to stay abreast of the needs of our city. Be it the homeless, the arts or the city’s future leadership, she lends her talents to creating positive changes and walks alongside others who do the same. Anna holds a degree in interior design from the University of Memphis and has been involved in notable projects, such as Overton Park’s Levitt Shell, Twain’s Steakhouse at Sam’s Town Casino and The New Daisy Theatre. In October 2015, Anna joined Ledford Engineering and Planning as designer and marketing director, adding interior design to Ledford’s service offerings and making the firm a one-stop shop for building and development needs. Anna believes that architecture and interior design shape the way people experience life and enjoys being involved in something so special. Today, we’re thrilled to introduce you to her as our FACE of Memphis.
What is the biggest challenge in your position?
Communicating the design intent. Some people can visualize; most cannot. It can be a challenge to help the client really understand what the end product will look like.
What has been your favorite project?
My favorite design project thus far was the Levitt Shell, when I first starting working at Askew Nixon. It started as a pro-bono project for the firm, and they were gracious enough to give the new kid a crack at it. My family has a history with the Shell. My mom is a musician, and a lot of my fondest childhood memories were made there. The design team was given a bit of freedom to be creative, and I think the building and grounds renovations turned out better than we expected. It’s been nice to take my own family there and continue the good times at the Shell.
What is your favorite structure in Memphis?
There is a Spanish Mediterranean home on East Parkway South that always captures my imagination every time I pass by.
Are you left-brained or right-brained?
I try to keep a balance, but I probably lean more toward the left.
You are involved in several diverse Memphis organizations. Tell us about how you support each of them.
I serve as board chair for Mayor Mark Luttrell’s Young Professional Council. This group works on a multitude of issues that affect young professionals all over Shelby County. We are currently working on creating a Mid-South regionwide summit for young professionals groups. I hold the position of vice chair for the Greater Memphis Chamber’s SoundCheck Young Professionals Council. This group focuses on making Memphis great through development of the city’s next generation of business leaders. We are working on professional development events and community outreach programs.
I serve on the programs and initiatives committee for the Urban Land Memphis Institute young professionals group. I co-created and curate the annual Words Matter art show, which serves as a benefit for Literacy Mid-South. Words Matter is a collaboration of creative minds; there are several teams in each show, each beginning the creative process with a literary contribution from a writer. From there, a combination of artists and performers extend that creation into their own media — visual artists, musicians, dancers, actors and filmmakers find collective expression from the language. Our mission is to create a platform for artists to get out of their silos and create something together through the inspiration of the written word.
How do you believe young professionals can help mold the city’s future?
I feel very passionately that young professionals are positively impacting Memphis currently. My friends Jeremy Calhoun and Alton Cryer are currently teaching inner city youth about professional development. Another friend, Isaac Rodriguez, just invented a new dental technology. My friend Audrey Jones was just highlighted by the BBC for the nonprofit she created, Code-Crew, whose mission is to teach coding classes to young women. I could keep going with hundreds of stories about amazing individuals who are molding not only the future of Memphis, but also the future of the world.
What is the last best trip you took?
My husband and I took our kids to Chicago for the summer, and we had a wonderful time. We rented a very charming Airbnb, which happened to be a late 19th-century church renovated into a home. Chicago has fantastic shopping and a great variety of restaurants. We even went to the beach while there!
What activities do you and your family enjoy together?
We love to do arts and crafts projects, and we cook a lot. We have created a fun backyard with a tree house, zip line, hammock and a trampoline, so we spend a lot of time there, as well.
What’s your best piece of advice for others?
Truly listen to everyone, from the custodian to the CEO. You may not agree with what they have to say, but there is something to be learned by listening to everyone.
What are three things you can’t live without, excluding faith, family and friends?
I couldn’t live without my imagination, good food and good music.
Thank you Anna, and thanks to Micki Martin for the amazing photographs of Anna.
Meet more inspiring Memphis women. Click here to check out the FACES archives.