The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon
Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

Janet Purnell

Share on Social Media

Information about Janet Purnell

Profile image of Janet Purnell

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
Occupation(s):
Academic Administrator
Elementary School Principal
Elementary School Teacher

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Broccoli
Favorite Time of Year:
Winter
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Houston, Texas
Favorite Quote:
Do Not Go Where The Path May Lead. Go, Instead, Where There Is No Path And Leave A Trail.

Birthplace

Born:
8/30/1936
Birth Location:
Akron, Ohio

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
Occupation(s):
Academic Administrator
Elementary School Principal
Elementary School Teacher

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Broccoli
Favorite Time of Year:
Winter
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Houston, Texas
Favorite Quote:
Do Not Go Where The Path May Lead. Go, Instead, Where There Is No Path And Leave A Trail.

Birthplace

Born:
8/30/1936
Birth Location:
Akron
See how Janet Purnell is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Educator and minority advocate Janet Purnell was born in Akron, Ohio on August 30, 1936 and has been a life-long resident. She studied education at the University of Akron, where she earned both her B.S. (1959) and her M.S. (1971).

For twenty-two years, Purnell worked for the Akron Public Schools as both an elementary school teacher and principal. In 1967, she led alumni in successfully lobbying for the establishment of an anti-segregation policy on the University of Akron campus. In 1982, she became the Executive Director of the Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority. In this role, she oversaw the public housing for 20,000 residents and served as a lobbyist on behalf of the 40 largest housing authorities. She later entered the private sector, acting as the CEO of Navic & Associates, where she served as a local and national consultant on establishing diversity in the workplace. In 1990, she returned to her alma mater to sit on the president's cabinet, overseeing all minority initiatives on campus. This position led to her subsequent role as the first Executive Director of Minority Development at the University. Purnell was responsible for securing funding to support minority initiatives and distributing annual scholarship funds to minority students. In honor of Purnell's appointment to chair the University of Akron's Board of Trustees, the Zeta Theta Omega Sorority established the Janet B. Purnell Project Self-Sufficiency Endowment, which annually awards a scholarship to a single mother.

Since 1985, she has provided leadership to historic preservation efforts in Akron. She designed and implemented the Dr. Shirla R. McClain Gallery of Akron's Black History and Culture program and spearheaded the establishment of the Gallery's endowment fund and curriculum guides. She has been a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority for over forty years; has acted a Trustee for the Akron Urban League and Akron Musical Association; serves as the Secretary of the Akron Chapter of the NAACP; is the Vice-Chairman of the Akron Black Women's Leadership Caucus and Chair of the Mt. Olive Baptist Church Trustee Ministry. In 2001, Purnell was honored as one of 100 outstanding women of Summit County. She is the mother of two sons.

See how Janet Purnell is related to other HistoryMakers
Loading...
Click Here To Explore The Archive Today!
  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Janet Purnell's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Janet Purnell lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Janet Purnell describes her parents' family backgrounds
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Janet Purnell talks about her maternal great-grandmother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Janet Purnell talks about the traditional family stories that were passed on to her
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Janet Purnell describes why her parents moved to Akron, Ohio
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Janet Purnell describes the sights, smells, and sounds of her childhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Janet Purnell describes the role of Mt. Zion Baptist Church during her childhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Janet Purnell describes her mother's involvement with the Republican Party
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Janet Purnell describes her upbringing
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Janet Purnell describes her childhood interests and activities
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Janet Purnell talks about her favorite childhood holidays
  • Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Janet Purnell describes her mother's strict personality
  • Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Janet Purnell describes her parents' civic involvement
  • Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Janet Purnell describes her experiences in school
  • Tape: 1 Story: 16 - Janet Purnell describes her parents' educational backgrounds
  • Tape: 1 Story: 17 - Janet Purnell describes the first black teachers in the Akron Public School system
  • Tape: 1 Story: 18 - Janet Purnell talks about her experiences attending Jennings Junior High School in Akron, Ohio
  • Tape: 1 Story: 19 - Janet Purnell talks about her parents' involvement with Freemasonry
  • Tape: 1 Story: 20 - Janet Purnell talks about her parents' care for others
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Janet Purnell talks about her parents' civic involvement
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Janet Purnell describes her childhood chores
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Janet Purnell talks about growing up in Akron Metropolitan Housing
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Janet Purnell describes her experiences attending North High School in Akron, Ohio
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Janet Purnell describes her social life as an African American student at North Senior High School in Akron, Ohio
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Janet Purnell talks about the teachers that influenced her at North High School in Akron, Ohio
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Janet Purnell describes why she enrolled at the University of Akron in Akron, Ohio
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Janet Purnell talks about attending the University of Akron in Akron, Ohio
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Janet Purnell describes volunteering with the Akron Urban League as a youth
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Janet Purnell talks about police checkpoints in Akron, Ohio in the 1960s
  • Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Janet Purnell talks about social unrest in Akron, Ohio during the 1960s and 1970s
  • Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Janet Purnell describes her early teaching career
  • Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Janet Purnell describes the dynamic between teachers and parents during her early teaching career
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Janet Purnell talks about developing partnerships with parents in the classroom
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Janet Purnell describes the "integrated learning experience" she helped develop in the 1950s
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Janet Purnell talks about helping her students develop a sense of cultural identity and self-sufficiency
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Janet Purnell describes why she ended her career as an elementary school teacher
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Janet Purnell talks about trying to integrate "private" parks with the National Urban League in Akron, Ohio
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Janet Purnell talks about developing programs and services to encourage voter registration
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Janet Purnell talks about being active in Republican politics
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Janet Purnell comments on being a Republican in an era of declining black Republican involvement
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Janet Purnell describes her Republican ideology
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Janet Purnell talks about arranging an interview between her students and Alex Haley, pt. 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Janet Purnell talks about arranging an interview between her students and Alex Haley, pt. 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Janet Purnell describes addressing discipline in schools during her time as a school principal
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Janet Purnell shares a story of a teacher disciplining a student without context
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Janet Purnell describes how a partnership with Akron Children's Hospital transformed the way she and her teachers approached students
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Janet Purnell talks about being the Vice Chairman of the Summit County Republican Party
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Janet Purnell talks about being hired as the Executive Director of the Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Janet Purnell describes the challenges she faced as Executive Director of the Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Janet Purnell talks about developing a formal pest control system for the Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Janet Purnell describes the challenges she faced when hiring staff for the Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Janet Purnell compares public housing developments in large cities
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Janet Purnell talks about the services offered to tenants during her time as Executive Director of the Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Janet Purnell talks about gang violence in Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority
  • Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Janet Purnell talks about retiring as Executive Director of Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority
  • Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Janet Purnell talks about serving as interim Director of Minority Affairs and Executive Director of Minority Development for the University of Akron
  • Tape: 4 Story: 13 - Janet Purnell talks about serving as Regional Coordinator of Leadership Development Training for Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority
  • Tape: 4 Story: 14 - Janet Purnell talks about curriculum design
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Janet Purnell talks about working with every day people to acquire historical materials
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Janet Purnell comments on what it takes to contribute to history
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Janet Purnell describes the effects the Dr. Shirla R. McClain Gallery of Akron's Black History and Culture has had on the public
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Janet Purnell talks about her plans for the future
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Janet Purnell talks about how she would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Janet Purnell narrates her photographs