Distinguishing herself in 1976 by becoming the first African American female manager for the City of Savannah, Carolyn Evelyn Hodges Bell served local government in numerous capacities and retired in 2011 as Central Services Director after thirty-eight years. She is a native of Selma, North Carolina, and a product of the public school system, graduating in 1967 as Valedictorian. She received a B.S. in Mathematics from Shaw University, an MPA from the University of Georgia, and a Masters in Divinity and Christian Education from Shaw University. She completed post-graduate work at the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government and Georgetown University. She has taught several courses in the graduate program in Public Administration at Savannah State University and has conducted numerous workshops on problem-solving, strategic planning, and budgeting.
Over the years, she has committed to serving the Savannah community and the state of Georgia. She has coordinated numerous tutorial programs, mentoring programs, and summer camps in the local community. In 1998, she became Chairman of the Board of the United Way of the Coastal Empire, a first for an African American in the agency’s history. She served on the Governor’s Children and Youth Coordinating Council for twelve years. For several years, she produced the United Negro College Fund’s annual telethon, which benefits education. She is a past president of the Gamma Sigma Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, and is a member of the Links, Savannah Chapter.
Mrs. Bell has been extremely active in the gospel music industry, where she has served as Co-Chair of the Women’s Division of the Gospel Music Workshop of America, a member of the Board of Bobby Jones Gospel, and one of the show’s co-hosts. As Business Manager of the Georgia Mass Choir, she assisted in coordinating the appearance of the choir in the filming and appearance of Touchstone Pictures’ “The Preacher’s Wife,” starring Whitney Houston and Denzel Washington.
She currently serves as the Alderman At Large, Post 1 for the City of Savannah. She also served on the City Council as Mayor Pro Tem and Alderman-At-Large from 2012 to 2019, representing the entire city. In this capacity, she spearheaded the inaugural Summer 500, a national award-winning summer internship program for high school juniors and seniors. She also worked with the Mayor on workforce development initiatives, blight elimination, affordable housing, and early education reform. She is a Certified Executive Leadership Coach and has conducted organizational consulting in leadership development and diversity, equity, and inclusion.
She believes “to whom much is given, much is required.” Her personal motto is “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”