Wendy D. Puriefoy '71, president of the Public Education Network, will deliver the spring commencement address to 700 graduates of The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 6.
Puriefoy, a nationally recognized expert on public school reform, civil society, and philanthropy, has written and spoken extensively on education equity and opportunity issues for poor and disadvantaged children. A history major, she was the first student elected trustee and the first African-American on the HWS board of trustees, serving from 1971 to 1973 and again from 1992 to 1994. She was a member of Hai Timiai while at HWS.
Puriefoy has been president of the Public Education Network, the nation's largest network of community-based public school reform organizations, since its founding in 1991. PEN is now a national network of local education funds serving 34 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, reaching 11.5 million students in 18,000 schools in more than 1,600 school districts in low-income communities.
After receiving her bachelor's degree, she earned three master of arts degrees: in African American Studies, American Studies, and American Colonial History, all from Boston University.
A founding member of the Advisory Board of The Fisher Center, she received the Alumnae Achievement Award in 2000. Puriefoy is also a member of the William Smith College Centennial Honorary Committee.