AB, Temple University, 1967. Master in Social Service, Bryn Mawr (Pennsylvania) College, 1968. Doctor of Philosophy, Bryn Mawr (Pennsylvania) College, 1977.
Psychiatric social worker, Eastern Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute, Philadelphia, 1969-1971; lecturer, counselor, Bryn Mawr College, 1971-1975; from assistant to associate professor, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 1975-1985; professor, Virginia Commonwealth U., Richmond, since 1985. Private practice, Philadelphia, 1973-1975, Richmond, 1985-1990. Special assistant to commissioner Virginia Department Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Superior vena cava syndrome, Richmond, 1993-1994.
Trustee William Byrd Community Center, Richmond, 1988-1991. Agency evaluation committee United Way, Richmond, 1986-1987. Board directors Octagon House, Ann Arbor, 1979-1981.
Board directors Virginia Alliance for the Mentally Ill, 1994-1996. Member Junior League of Richmond. Member Leadership Development Committee, since 2005.
Member National Association of Social Workers (chair leadership identification committee state chapter 1995-1997, board directors state chapter 1987-1991, national book committee 1997-2000), National Association University Women (chair, national and international committee, since 2004), National Association Black Social Workers (chapter vice president 1983-1985), Council on Social Work Education, Academy Certified Social Workers, Gerontological Society of America, Junior League, National Association University Women. (chair national and international committee, since 2004), American Baptist Women (chair personal development ministry, since 2004), Phi Kappa Phi, Phi Lambda Theta (Richmond chapter).
Married John C. Purnell, Junior.