School Equity Champion to Leave Barr Foundation

After about a year as director of education at the Barr Foundation, Wendy Puriefoy, longtime national and regional leader in public education reform and school equity, plans to leave the foundation in February. The announcement comes on the heels of another big change at Barr, the recent hiring of a new executive director.

According to the Barr Foundation’s announcement, she plans to pursue more “fundamental redesign” of American education, and is seeking to do so on a more national platform. The Barr Foundation, Boston’s largest private philanthropy, is already entering something of a transition, as it recently named James Irvine Foundation head James Canales as its new president. Canales will oversee a planning process for possible regional, national, and international expansion.

Barr had appointed Puriefoy as head of its education program in March 2013, touting her experience both in Boston and nationally. She was a strong fit for the job, since Barr’s program focuses on closing the education opportunity gaps in Boston, including work to improve Boston Public Schools, early education programs, and out-of-school programs. (see more on Barr's giving below.)

Puriefoy’s history with Boston’s schools dates back to the 1970s, when she was a special monitor of the court-ordered desegregation plan for the city’s school district. Before joining Barr, she was president of the Public Education Network, an association of Local Education Funds, which work on reforming schools in low-income communities across the country. She also served as executive vice president and chief operating officer of The Boston Foundation. She sits on several advisory and nonprofit boards.

Her perspective will surely be missed at Barr, and Interim Executive Director Melinda Marble is sending her off with strong praise, calling her a mentor and a role model.  

The announcement leaves a gap in Barr’s leadership team, but it’s one that, pending Canales’ start with the foundation in May, they have no immediate plans to fill. 

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