MBK Conference Breakfast

Meet the Executive Team

Director Carla Williams-Scott
Carla Williams-Scott was appointed the first Director of the Department of Neighborhoods in June 2016. Click here to learn more.


Todd Dieffenderfer currently serves as Deputy Director of the Department of Neighborhoods. Through his work, Todd is focused on how the Department can empower residents to be actively involved in their community and create partnerships to address challenging issues facing our neighborhoods.

Prior to joining the Department of Neighborhoods, Todd was United Way of Central Ohio’s Senior Vice President of Community Impact and Chief Alignment Officer.  In these roles, he worked to advance pathways out of poverty in Central Ohio. Todd has also served as Special Advisor to former Ohio Treasurer and Attorney General Richard Cordray, Legislative Aide to former Columbus City Council President Matt Habash and an aide in the Ohio House of Representatives.

In 2013, Todd graduated from Leadership Columbus’ Signature Program. He previously served on the boards of the Central Ohio Community Improvement Corporation and the Ohio Center for Law Related Education.  A graduate of Centennial High School, Todd was a student member of the Northwest Civic Association.  Todd has a Master of Arts in Public Policy and Management from the John Glenn School of Public Affairs at The Ohio State University.



Emerald Hernández-Parra is an Assistant Director of the Department of Neighborhoods. She leads the city’s Comprehensive Neighborhood Safety Strategy and serves as the Homeless Advocacy Liaison.  In addition, she was a member of the application team which was awarded the US Department of Transportation’s Smart Cities Competition.

Prior to her work with the city, Hernández-Parra worked for the OCSEA/AFSCME Local 11 and served under Governor Ted Strickland.  While serving under Governor Strickland, she was tasked with the creation of the Department of Veterans’ Services and the 2009 Veterans’ Bonus.

Emerald earned her Bachelor of Arts in Communications from The Ohio State University.


Toya Johnson is an Assistant Director of Neighborhood Services and Community Engagement within the Department of Neighborhoods.  Prior to this appointment, Toya served as the Deputy Director of the Columbus Community Relations Commission (CRC).  As the Assistant Director of Neighborhood Services and Community Engagement, she manages the Neighborhood Pride Centers and Neighborhood Liaisons, the Neighborhood Pride Program, and programming for the New Americans Initiative.  Mrs. Johnson’s professional career spans many years in government at local, county and state levels.  During her time with the City of Columbus she has served in the Mayor’s Office, Columbus City Council, the Department of Public Utilities, the City Attorney’s Office, and the Community Relations Commission.      

A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Mrs. Johnson has engaged herself in the Columbus and Central Ohio communities through organizations such Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio and the Columbus Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., a public service organization.  She is a 2014 graduate of Leadership Columbus, member of the International Mentoring Association, and is on the Franklin Park Conservatory Board.  Toya is a charter member of the Columbus Chapter of the National Forum for Black Public Administrators (NFBPA) and serves as the chapter’s secretary.