A Charleston native, Hurd attended James Simmons Elementary School and the High School of Charleston. Graduating from Clark Atlanta University in 1984, she returned home and launched a 31-year career with the Charleston County Public Library. After earning a master’s degree in library information sciences at the University of South Carolina, she became manager of the John L. Dart Library in 1990 in the Charleston neighborhood where she grew up. In 2011, Hurd was promoted to lead the St. Andrews Regional Library, one of the busiest branches in the county’s system.
Outside her professional work Hurd was active in her community, serving as a board member of the Charleston County Housing Authority for more than 20 years. She was also a board member of Septima P. Clark Corp., a nonprofit that gives small grants to resident programs for those in public housing. Hurd was a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and spent time working part-time at the College of Charleston’s Addlestone Library. Additionally, she was a life-long member of Mother Emanuel AME Church, joining many members of her family in the congregation.
After her death, the College of Charleston renamed its Colonial Scholarship, a full academic scholarship for in-state students, the Cynthia Graham Hurd Memorial Scholarship. In addition, the Charleston County Public Library changed the name of the St. Andrews Library branch she managed to the Cynthia Graham Hurd St. Andrews Regional Library.