Mr. Purnell became the Executive Director of the Police Athletic League of Wilmington (PALW) in November 2019 after holding the position of Developmental Director for the three years prior.
A Wilmington, Delaware native, Mr. Purnell earned his Bachelor’s in Sports Management and a Master’s in Education Administration and Leadership from Wilmington University; along with other certificates and certifications.
Having worked in the education and recreation field for 26 years in various capacities, Mr. Purnell’s past experiences include Camp Counselor, Assistant Athletic Director, Prevention Coordinator, Physical Education Teacher, Dean of Discipline, Director of Transportation and Facilities, Assistant principal of a Middle School, Director of Operations and Athletic Director of a private High School. Mr. Purnell has also coached football, basketball, baseball and softball on the middle school and high school level.
Mr. Purnell’s unique past experiences, opportunities and mentors have all helped to prepare him for his current position.
Mr. Harris joined the Police Athletic League of Wilmington (PALW) in December 2019 as the Developmental Director.
Prior to the Police Athletic League of Wilmington, Joe was the Executive Director / Deputy Director of St. Patrick’s Center of Wilmington, DE from 2015 to 2019. During his tenure at St. Patrick’s Center, Mr. Harris helped the company raise funds, streamlined social services to the low-income community, and completed countless renovations.
Mr. Harris has over 20 years experience working in Mental Health, Substance Abuse Adjudicated Youth, Sex Offenders and Homeless arenas as Case Manager, Counselor, Coordinator, Director, Team Leader, Deputy and Executive Director.
Mr. Harris is a graduate of Wesley University and Wilmington University, where he majored in Business Management and Administration of Human Services. He currently lives in Wilmington, DE.
A native of Wilmington, DE, Kenneth has served in the field of mental health, substance abuse, and therapeutic counseling for children and adults for over 15 years.
Kenneth began his career in the human service field as a Youth Rehabilitation Specialist at Ferris School for Boys. There, he implemented Cognitive Behavior Therapy as a means to modify the behaviors of the youth in care.
Kenneth then transitioned into a disciplinarian position within the Christina and Brandywine School Districts. After serving in this capacity for several years, Kenneth transitioned to a very active role at one of Delaware’s largest non-profit agencies servicing adults with mental illness and other challenges. He spent time cultivating prominent relationships with the community and industry providers.
Most recently, Kenneth served as the program facilitator for a hugely influential and innovative re-entry program for adults. There he mentored and counseled ex-offenders who had been recently released from prison. Additionally, he’s created some curriculums and programs that continue to prepare participants for post-prison life and assisting with securing employment.
Kenneth is extremely passionate and dedicated to helping the community. As a product of the surrounding community, he is committed to giving back and creating unlimited possibilities for our youth and their families.
Childcare Director, Early Learning Center
Hi everyone, my name is Roxanne Coleman. I am the Early Learning Director at the Police Athletic League of Wilmington.
My background goes as follows: 18 years in the education field. In these years and counting, most of my experience comes from working in the Early Childhood field. I’ve begun my career as a before/after counselor. Not shortly after I received my certification to become an Early Learning Teacher. I’ve taught in classrooms from birth to pre-kindergarten with all qualifications and certificates to teach in any classroom environment in Delaware and Pennsylvania. Later I graduated college with honors with both my AS and BA degrees in education which I decided to teach in the state of Delaware and Pennsylvania school districts.
As a Director I take great pride in knowing that our Center is one that strives for excellence and quality in child care service. We have a wonderful complement of staff; dedicated and truly amazing at what they do. Part of my role as Director is to keep abreast of, and advocate for the Early Childhood profession.
In closing, I am the mother of two beautiful children who I’m proud of being their mother. I enjoy watching them grow and being a part of all their achievements and challenges. Not only do I enjoy my own children, but also have excitement in giving back to the youth. I coach AAU basketball and continue to talk and check on the youth at their prospective schools. Additionally, I work hand and hand with Educational professors, principals, teachers, and advocates on ways we can continuously support the youth and the up & coming students.
Quote: Every child deserves a champion—an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.
– Rita Pierson
Thomas Mckean graduate 2000
University of Delaware graduate 2004
PALW officer 2021-current
Board of Directors
For over 15 years, Vaidra has cultivated innovative strategies between individuals, organizations, and campaigns to improve the lives of her community.
Her career has been an impressive combination of innovative strategic thinking, operational excellence, and a passionate commitment to her clients.
Since 2014, Vaidra has provided personalized real estate services to homebuyers and sellers in Delaware & Pennsylvania. She is the CFO, and co-founder of Build A Legacy Real Estate, Inc. which has assisted over 150 families and generated over $35 Million in volume. Her deep connections throughout the Delaware real estate community have allowed her to partner and form wonderful client and affiliate relationships. She attributes her success not only to her passion for real estate, but also to her awareness regarding the mindset of homeownership and financial readiness.
Prior to founding her own real estate business, Vaidra held several roles in operations, financial, and executive management with Sodexo. For nearly a decade, she managed multiple accounts surplussing over $15 Million and managed over 60 employees. She was the youngest Director in her division and region giving her the honor of being recognized as the youngest women leaders “30 under 30” on the East Coast.
Vaidra earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Delaware State University. She has received numerous awards and honors, and is an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.
Coby Owens is a native Wilmingtonian and is an award-winning advocate and national organizer. As a human and civil rights activist, he has led mobilizations and nonviolent direct action campaigns across the country.
Coby possesses the unique ability to bring people together for a common purpose and mobilize them to bring about change. Coby’s passion to fight for equity in our community comes from his own life’s journey and fuels his pursuit of fundamental civil rights.
Vice President of Marketing & Business Development at FideliTrade Incorporated. She attended Wesley College and obtained her bachelor’s degree in business Administration.
In 1996 she started her career in precious metals with Wilmington Trust then continued at FideliTrade. Over the years Grace has held various positions with FideliTrade and now serves on the depository’s board. She serves on the DE State Chamber’s Board of Governors, is former chair of the Small Business Alliance and is also the Board Treasurer for the Police Athletic League of Wilmington.
Grace has two daughters. One is a graduate of Temple University and the other is a graduate of Delaware State University. Grace served as co-chair of the Education Committee for the Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League Young Professionals, tutored at William Hicks Anderson Community Center and was a mentor with Good Will Good Guides. She is a native of New Jersey but has lived and worked in Delaware for over 20 years.
Necia M. Jones
With a background in customer service, banking, team building, entrepreneurship, sales and marketing Necia Jones is your quintessential business professional.
Born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware she always knew she was destined for greatness.
In 2009 Necia graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations and Hospitality Management from Delaware State University. She continued her education receiving her Master’s Degree in Project Management and Business Administration from Strayer University in 2014.
Always ambitious and eager to learn, Necia began her management journey at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida making her one of the first minority women to work at Crystal Palace Restaurant in Magic Kingdom. Necia has held various jobs in marketing and estate planning with a focus in IRAs and previously managed small business clients for a Fortune 500 Company. Currently Necia is a project manager for Chase the #1 bank in the U.S. making her one of the most qualified professionals in the field.
From an early age community service and volunteerism have always been important to Necia because it instills empathy, inspires a sense of citizenship and helps find pathways to meaningful education and work. She currently serves as the board secretary for the Police Athletic League Wilmington (PALW). She also holds the VP of Education position for Toastmasters JPMC Wilmington Chapter. In June of 2021 Necia founded her nonprofit organization Pay It Forward Networking Group where she holds the title of President, Founder and CEO. As a young African American woman who has navigated her way through corporate America she has her own unique experiences and wanted to create a platform to share her story while providing resources that also help women of color with mental health, financial literacy, work life balance and business development.
With her diverse experience in leadership, real estate and commerce Necia established Jones Property Company in 2017. Jones Property Company provides property management and notary services to residential and commercial clients in the tri state area. Necia has satisfactorily completed the Pre-Licensing Course as approved by the Delaware Real Estate Commission. She is currently working towards becoming a license real estate agent for the state of Delaware. Passionate about providing value, she is driven by the need to ensure the highest level of client satisfaction. Known for her perseverance, dedication and trustworthiness she is focused on helping.
Wilmington Fire Department
Alice Sawyer has had a distinguished 30-year career in the YMCA, retiring in 2008. She began with the YMCA of Delaware, specializing in marketing, membership and financial development.
After fourteen years of local work, Alice became a consultant with the YMCA of the USA.
Customer service and coaching individuals are Alice’s real passions. She is well known as the champion for “front-line” employees, where the “real work” of any organization resides. She has been trained as a life-coach, discovering the power of listening and coaching as an exciting way to empower individuals and organizations to find their own solutions.
A popular speaker and presenter at local and national conferences throughout the country, Alice is sought after for her motivational speeches, presentations and interactive trainings. She has created tools and other interactive resources to improve the “WOW” factor in the service experience, which also help to make the training events and learnings more action-oriented and memorable.
Since her retirement from the YMCA, Alice provides coaching, consulting and training services for personal and organizational development. She has proudly served on the PAWL board for over five years.
Ian Smith’s work since 2016 in Delaware with YAP has included:
- Executive responsibility for all aspects of the daily YAP operations and expansion of programs that have served more than 150 youth re-entering the community from detention. The services include educational support, job readiness training, employment, wraparound services, and mentorship
- Developed new afterschool programs at four key elementary schools by implementing Peaceful Alternative to Tough Situation (PATTS)
- Managed Peaceful Alternatives to Tough Situations, a curriculum that teaches students alternative methods for dealing with conflict, crisis, and trauma
- Served as Policy and Advocacy Center (PAC) Liaison for Delaware where he identified opportunities to leverage local outcomes, emerging issues, and national policies for strategic implementation into local, regional, and national programs
Smith previously held management and community-based positions with YAP programs in Sierra Leone, on the southwest coast of West Africa, where he reviewed the program for funding renewal, and in Baltimore, Maryland, where he lived for much of his life. In Baltimore, Ian served as court-appointed support for young men (ages 14-18) who had been committed to the Department of Juvenile Justice and ensured that his clients were complying with all areas of their court order, such as probation and drug treatment. Smith was also a Therapeutic Behavioral Specialist with Maxim Health Services in Baltimore where he worked in the homes and in the schools of families and children diagnosed with mental health issues. Smith engaged clients in life skills activities, including field trips to various cultural events around the city and state. Smith also worked for the Boy Scouts of America, Baltimore Area Council. Ian Smith’s community service also includes serving currently as Vice-President of the Browntown Civic Association; as a current Board Member of Delaware Greenways and Innocence Delaware, Inc.; a former member of the Juvenile Justice Advisory Group; and former Board Member of the Light Up the Queen Foundation.