Cynthia Jenkins received her Bachelor of Science degree from Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee and is the first individual in America to receive an undergraduate degree in Historic Preservation.
Her forty-year career in historic preservation began at Lowcountry Council of Governments in Yemassee, South Carolina in 1974. The regional planning council serves the four counties of Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper. She surveyed, researched and wrote Historic Resources of the Lowcountry: A Regional Survey that was published in 1979.
One of Mrs. Jenkins proudest accomplishments is her long association with the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Auldbrass Plantation near Yemassee, South Carolina. She played an instrumental role in encouraging and securing its listing on the National Register of Historic Places in1976. During the restoration of Auldbrass by its current owner, Joel Silver, Mrs. Jenkins served as an advisor and directed the monitoring of covenants for restoration called for in the preservation easement held by Historic Charleston Foundation.
In 1980 she was asked to return to her home state of Tennessee and the State Historic Preservation Office to develop and improve the methodology of conducting statewide histodc site surveys and creating an efficient National Register program. She has also served as an advisor to the Historic Preservation program at Middle Tennessee State University.
Mrs. Jenkins was the first full time director of Historic Beaufort' Foundation in Beaufort, South Carolina. She worked closely with the City of Beaufort to develop The Beaufort Preservation Manual, 1979, as well as the updated volume in 1989. The Beaufort Preservation Manual is still recognized nationally as one of the most successful preservation design manuals for owners as well as the city's Board of Architectural Review. Among other pivotal Beaufort projects was the development of the City's Tourism Ordinance, the Tour Bus Ordinance and Film Guidelines.
In 1996 the Preservation Society of Charleston recruited Cynthia to be its Executive Director. Her leadership at the Society (the oldest community-based preservation membership organization in the country) focused on the mission of preservation advocacy, preservation education and preservation plannlng. During her tenure the Society's endowment increased from less than $20,000 to over two million dollars and the membership increased by almost one third.
Mrs. Jenkins served on over two dozen boards and commissions while at the Preservation Society including; president of the Charleston Heritage Federation, a member of the Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau Board of Governors, the City of Charleston's Civic Design Center Board of Directors and as a member of the City of Charleston Tourism Management Committee and Historic Preservation Plan Advisory Committee. A few key issues addressed during her terms on these boards include development of the city's new Preservation Plan, cruise ship management and the impact of tourism in general on the livability and economic viability of historic neighborhoods and downtowns.
The Preservation Society of Charleston Board of Directors awarded Cynthia with attendance at the prestigious Attingham Summer School (class of 2007) in Great Britain in recognition of her years of successful leadership. In 2015 Mrs. Jenkins attended the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA) Summer Institute in Winston-Salem to study the material culture and decorative arts of the SC and Georgia Lowcountry.
After leaving the helm of the Preservation Society of Charleston Mrs. Jenkins served as an Adjunct Professor in the Masters of Historic Preservation program jointly operated by Clemson University and the College of Charleston. Her work in the graduate program focused on Historic Preservation Administrationand Management, a component of preservation education that is often overlooked in preparing students for careers in historic preservation.
In addition to her long career in preservation Cynthia has continued to volunteer her time to preservation causes. She served as a judge for the National Trust for Historic Preservation's National Preservation Honor Awards as well as a speaker at several national conferences. Also, in 2017 she delivered the keynote address at the state preservation conference in Columbia. Mrs. Jenkins served three terms over twenty years on the Board of Directors of the Palmetto Trust for Historic Preservation now Preservation South Carolina, South Carolina's statewide non-profit preservation, membership organization. Including most recently serving as President of the Board. Cynthia was also appointed to the Greenville County Historic Preservation Commission where she headed the Goodwin House restoration committee which oversaw the DOT funded stabilization and exterior restoration of the significant early resource. She currently serves as President of the Board of Directors of the South Carolina Department of Archives and History Foundation.
Cynthia was asked to return to Historic Beaufort in the fall of 2019 as Executive Director. She is focusing the organization's efforts on ensuring that preservation in Beaufort remains at the forefront by raising the organizations profile, increasing membership and diversity, and rehabilitating the Verdier House which is a Beaufort landmark.
She is married to Robert W. Jenkins former Creative Director for Environments, Inc. located in Beaufort, South Carolina. They now live on Glassy Mountain in northern Greenville County.