Lendri S. Purcell, MA

Lendri Purcell uses her skills as a children’s rights advocate, a community organizer and a seasoned funder to drive the work of the Jonas Program for Children’s Environmental Health.

In response to learning through a routine blood test that her baby had an elevated lead level, Ms. Purcell embarked on a quest to find the source of that exposure. In the process, she uncovered numerous common toxic chemicals in her own home — and in the lives of all American children. Ms. Purcell has spent the last six years immersing herself in the latest academic research addressing the damaging physiological ramifications of in-utero and early childhood exposures to toxic chemicals. She has discovered that, as a result of the abundance of toxics they come into contact with daily through food, water air, toys etc., the physical and cognitive health of children in this country and their learning potential is suffering greatly.

Ms. Purcell began formally advocating for children while participating in the renowned teacher training and leadership program, Teach for America. While teaching children with special learning and emotional challenges in an under-resourced school, she earned a Masters’ in Learning and Instruction and advanced certifications in educational therapy and childhood trauma. In addition to teaching, Ms. Purcell created enrichment programs to address obstacles to student learning outside of the classroom, including an outdoor education program.

Ms. Purcell’s desire to impact more children led her to work as a case manager, community schools’ coordinator, community organizer and a foundation program officer for Price Charities. While working in those capacities, she also spearheaded the Jonas Youth Development Initiative. In over 10 years, the program disbursed close to three million dollars through almost 100 grants — supporting mentoring, school-to-career training programs and mental health support for well over eight-thousand highly at-risk San Francisco East Bay youth. This grant-making program was especially unique in that Lendri created a youth advisory board reflective of the community to help recommend grants.

In addition to funding many innovative, award-winning programs that got their start with Jonas seed funding, Ms. Purcell spearheaded initiatives to increase investments in East Bay youth and to strengthen the youth development community by increasing collaboration and coordination. She founded the Oakland Youth-Friendly Business Awards, a model program that has been replicated outside the East Bay to promote business engagement in the youth development sector. She also founded the East Bay Youth Ally Alliance, an active program that coordinates and enhances youth development efforts through trainings, coaching, special events and social media tools.