Women’s History Month: Carla Bell Johnson
An Orange County native, Carla Bell Johnson has been a public servant in the local community for more than 30 years. And now, she is the first African American woman to hold the office of Deputy County Administrator for Orange County Government.
Johnson was recently promoted to Deputy County Administrator by Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings, with the Board of County Commissioners confirming her promotion in February 2022. Johnson has worked in the County Administrator’s Office, the Convention Center, Public Works Department, Growth Management Department and previously for the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority.
She will lead a team of more than 1,600 employees in her new role and will oversee numerous departments, including Community and Family Services, Administrative Services, Human Resources, Office of Management Budget and Risk Management, to name a few.
When asked what gets her excited to serve the residents of Orange County, Johnson defers to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who said: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?”
“His words speak very simply to what motivates me each and every day,” asserted Johnson, “not only to serve the residents in our community, but also those within my personal circles, such as family and friends.”
Johnson is motivated to get things done and has been since her childhood. At Edgewater High School, she was named “Most Likely to Succeed,” was active in cheerleading, performed in the Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra and worked with community service organizations.
Johnson earned her bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering and Operations Research from Princeton University. She chose this degree because she sought to work in a technical field that would give her the ability to help “shape” her community, and her desire to do this has expanded to a broader context throughout her professional life.
Family is important to Johnson. She is married with three teenagers, and her mother still plays an important role in her life. At 82 years old, her mother continues to work in Orange County Public Schools, where she has been employed as a teacher for nearly 55 years. Johnson was inspired to be a public servant by the passion and commitment to others her mother models every day, and she looks forward to new opportunities to influence decisions that uplift people by improving their quality of life.
“I believe, as the Mayor often reminds us, our employees are a microcosm of the community we serve,” she said. “In order to serve our citizens with excellence, passion and compassion, our employees need to be similarly uplifted. Their ‘work communities’ need to reflect the qualities that inspire them to provide excellent customer service.”