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christopher purnell

Christopher Purnell

Executive Director

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.

joel harris

Joel Harris

Director of

















developmental programs

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.

Kenneth Harris

Deputy Director

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.

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Ronnisha Butts

Site coordinator

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Ryan Jordan

Resource officer

Board of Directors

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Bob Cannon

 

 

 

vincent catanzaro

Vincent Catanzaro, Esq.

Vice President

vaidra johnson

Vaidra Johnson

Vaidra Johnson is a native of Winston-Salem, N.C. and was appointed to serve as Secretary of the Police Athletic League of Wilmington (PALW) in 2020.

Vaidra is a Realtor licensed in both Delaware and Pennsylvania. Prior to her role with the PALW, from 2009-2019, Ms. Johnson served many leadership roles and Executive Management positions with Sodexo.

She has a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Delaware State University (2009). 

Vaidra resides in New Castle, Del. with her husband and two sons. In her leisure time she enjoys spending quality time with family and friends. She is an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Necia Jones

With a background in customer service, banking, team building, entrepreneurship, sales, and marketing, Necia Jones is your quintessential realtor.

Born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware, she has a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations and Hospitality Management, and a Master’s Degree in Project Management and Business Administration, making her one of the most qualified Real Estate Managers out there! 

She began her management experience at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, and has held various jobs in project management, estate planning with a focus in IRAs, and most recently, managing small business clients for a Fortune 500 Company. 

With her deep experience in sales, marketing, and management, Necia Jones established the Jones Property Company in 2018 with a commitment to provide quality housing for people in her community. Passionate about providing value, she is driven by the need to ensure a continuous growth in the value of local properties, and maximizing real estate asset value.  

Buying or selling, as a professional and expert Realtor, Necia Jones stands firmly by her clients. Known for her passion, dedication, and trustworthiness, she is focused on helping clients buy their ideal homes with easy, make the most from the sale of their properties, and enjoy success in their real estate investments.  

 

Whether you are looking for your dream home or looking to purchase your first real estate property, Necia Jones will be there to take you by the hand, walk you through the entire process, and help make it as easy and smooth as possible.

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Ryan Jordan

Resource officer

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Wilbert Miller

vanessa minor

Vanessa Minor

A native of New Jersey, Vanessa Minor has lived in New Castle, Delaware for the past 40 years. She has served on the board of the Police Athletic League of Wilmington (PALW) since May 2012.

Vanessa received her Bachelor of Science degree with a concentration in Criminal Justice and a Master of Science degree with a concentration in Organizational Leadership.

Vanessa retired from the Wilmington Job Corps in August 2019 as an Admissions Counselor after a working career that spans forty-five years. Her professional experience has consisted of work in the Colonial School District, the Christiana School District, Hercules Incorporated, and ASAPP Healthcare, Inc.

Vanessa has a passion for young people and much of her volunteer work has afforded her the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of many young people. Her volunteer experience includes two years of being a mentor for children of incarcerated parents, and over ten years as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for New Castle County. She has been a registrar for the State of Delaware for many years, and she is the personal secretary to the Reverend Aaron R. Moore of Manna Christian Fellowship Church in the City of Wilmington. Much of her pleasure is derived from knowing she has been the driving force for many young people.

Coby Owens

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.

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Gabriel Pabon

Wilmington Fire Department

alice sawyer

Alice Sawyer

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.

leon sawyers

Leon Sawyers

President

Leon Sawyers obtained his B.S. in Technology from North Carolina A&T State University and his M.B.A. from Drexel University. 

Mr. Sawyers is a Sales and Marketing Manager at Tri-M Group where he manages twelve employees.

Leon has resided in Delaware for over ten years and has been involved with the Police Athletic League of Wilmington (PALW) for nearly as long. During this time, he has held several positions on the board but has been serving as Board President for the past seven years.

In addition to his professional and community efforts, Leon is also an active member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.

Mr. Sawyer credits organizations like PALW, which offer local free activities, with keeping him out of trouble during his youth. It’s for this reason that Leon is passionate about giving back to the community.

grace stockley

Grace Stockley

Treasurer

Vice President of Marketing & Business Development at FideliTrade Incorporated. Grace is a graduate of Wesley College and serves as Treasurer for PALW.

In 1996 she started her career in precious metals with Wilmington Trust. Over the years Grace has held various positions in the organization and now serves on the company’s board. She is on the DE State Chamber’s Board of Governors, co-chair of the International Precious Metals Institute’s Legislative Affairs Committee and was also the Board Secretary for the Police Athletic League of Wilmington for three years.

Grace has two daughters enrolled at Temple University and Delaware State University. She was 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 Goodwill. Grace is a native of New Jersey but has lived and worked in Delaware for over 20 years.

william resto

William Resto

shavonne white

Shavonne White

Shavonne H. White is the Director of the State of Delaware’s Office of Supplier Diversity (OSD).

The mission of the OSD is to enhance economic opportunities for the diverse business community of minority, women, veteran, service disabled veteran, individual with a disability owned businesses, as well as small businesses of unique size. Shavonne has worked in public service for over a decade, previously working in the administrations of Governors Jack Markell and John Carney. Shavonne’s son Shane is an active participant in Police Athletic League of Wilmington (PALW) programming and enjoys representing PALW on the basketball and flag football teams.