Commissioner Emma I. Darnell represents District Six which includes portions of unincorporated South Fulton County and portions of the cities of Atlanta, College Park, East Point, Fairburn, Hapeville, Palmetto, Union City and Chattahoochee Hills.
Commissioner Darnell believes “government is about people” and “if you fashion it with the people”, the programs will take care of themselves. Her focus areas include Municipal Services, Human Services and Human Health and the Environment.
A professional in the field of Public Administration, Commissioner Darnell served as the first female to head a department in the government of the City of Atlanta. In her capacity as Commissioner of Administrative Services, she was responsible for the Personnel, Purchasing, General Services, Labor Relations, Contract Compliance and Equal Employment Opportunity departments. Reporting directly to the Chief Administrative Officer (the late Dan Sweat), Commissioner Darnell was an architect of Atlanta’s “Minority Participation Plan” for the expansion of “Hartsfield International Airport” featured in Henry Hampton’s prize – winning documentary, “Eyes on the Prize.” She also served as Atlanta’s Director of Intergovernmental Affairs and Chair of the Grant Review Board. In this capacity, she participated in the planning, design and construction of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Social Change, Mrs. Coretta Scott King, President.
Commissioner Darnell earned the Bachelor of Arts degree at Fisk University, Nashville, Tennessee where she was initiated as a member of Alpha Beta Chapter, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She earned the Master of Arts degree at Teachers College, Columbia University where she was selected as a member of the Pi Lambda Theta Honor Society. She was awarded the Juris Doctor degree from the Howard University School of Law.
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).
Commissioner Darnell is a member of the West Mitchell Street Christian Methodist Episcopal Church and a product of the CME Church parsonage. She is the daughter of (the late) Dr. Milner L. Darnell, President, Phillips School of Theology, Christian Methodist Episcopal Church and (the late) Mrs. Harriett G. Darnell, Founder and (Volunteer) Director, Ours Senior Center, 23 Georgia Avenue, Atlanta, Ga.
On Jan. 1, 2017, Commissioner Darnell began serving her eighth term on the Board of Commissioners. In 2015, she became the "dean" of the Commission, the longest currently-serving commissioner. Her current term ends December 31, 2020.