Biography Summary
June 2011

The Honorable Emma I. Darnell, J.D., Vice - Chair, Fulton County Board of Commissioners, Atlanta, GA

Commissioner Darnell represents District Five which consists of Northwest Atlanta, Southwest Atlanta and portions of unincorporated South Fulton County.

Her major areas of interest include Human Health and the Environment Library Services, Senior Adult Services and Transportation.

Born in Atlanta and a graduate of the public schools of Tyler, Texas, Commissioner Darnell was elected to the Board of Commissioners in a special election, May 1992. In December 1998, she led the Board of Commissioners in opening a $5.5 million senior multi-purpose facility in northwest Atlanta. Named by the Board of Commissioners and the Northwest Community Senior Advisory Committee to honor the life and work of her mother, a community activist for seniors, the Harriett G. Darnell Senior Multi-Purpose Facility provides a variety of social, educational, fitness, and nutritional activities designed for persons age 55 years and older. The facility also houses the first government-operated adult day care program in Fulton County.

Previously, Commissioner Darnell was employed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Atlanta Regional Office, Investigations and Conciliations Division. She also served in the government of the City of Atlanta as Special Assistant to the Mayor for Intergovernmental Affairs and Chair of the Grant Review Board. She also served as Director, Economic Opportunity Atlanta, Inc.

In her capacity as Commissioner of Administrative Services for the City of Atlanta, she was responsible for the personnel, purchasing, general services, labor relations, EBO and EEO departments. She was an architect of Atlanta’s “Minority Participation Plan for the Expansion of Hartsfield International Airport” featured in Henry Hampton’s documentary, “Eyes on the Prize.”

A former college professor, Commissioner Darnell graduated from Fisk University where she was initiated in Alpha Beta Chapter, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She earned the Master’s degree from Columbia University, Teachers College where she was initiated in Pi Lambda Theta Honor Society. She earned the Juris Doctor degree from the Howard University School of Law. Commissioner Darnell is a member of Leadership Atlanta Alumni and Church Women United, Inc.

Citing her work in government as a “public moralist”, in June 2000, she was awarded the Doctor of Divinity degree, honoris causa by the Board of Trustees of the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC), Atlanta, Georgia.

The recipient of over 200 awards from civic and business organizations for outstanding achievement in the area of government and human rights, on November 7, 2010, Commissioner Darnell was elected to a fifth term as a member of the Board of Commissioners. She was elected Vice - Chair by unanimous vote of The Commission on January 5, 2011.

A product of the parsonage of the Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME) Church, Commissioner Darnell is the daughter of (the late) Dr. Milner L. Darnell, Dean of the Phillips School of Theology from 1959 to 1973, and Mrs. Harriett G. Darnell. She has served as an active member of her “home” church, Miles Chapel CME Church, Tyler, Texas, Williams Institutional CME Church, New York City and the Israel Metropolitan CME Church, Washington, D.C. She is a member of the West Mitchell CME Church, Atlanta, GA where she serves as chair of the Board of Trustees.

Commissioner Darnell was elected by the General Conference to eight terms as a member of the Judicial Council of the CME Church, serving as the first female President from 1990-1998.



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