- J.D., DePaul University, College of Law
- Ph.D., Cornell University
- A.B., Harvard University
Dr. Kathy Purnell, a professional instructor in the School of Public Affairs and Administration, is the founding attorney of the Human/Civil Rights Law Center, the senior coordinator of advocacy and intake for the Fair Housing Center of Southwest Michigan, and a member of the inaugural Black Leadership Advisory Council for the governor of the State of Michigan. She also is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), where she is currently serving as the diversity chair of AILA’s Michigan Chapter.
Her prior positions at Western Michigan University have included serving as the Office of the Vice President for Research's research contracts administrator (pre-award contracts), WMU's first university service learning coordinator and an instructor in the Department of Political Science. At the University of Chicago, she served as director of external funding and special projects for the Physical Sciences Division and as associate director of foundation relations.