A national expert on school reform and civil society, Puriefoy is a passionate and effective advocate for education equity for disadvantaged children. She has been president of the Public Education Network (PEN), the nation’s largest network of community-based school reform organizations, since its founding in 1991. Puriefoy has been deeply involved in school reform since the 1970’s when she served as a special monitor of the court-ordered desegregation plan for Boston’s public schools. Puriefoy is a member of many national boards and committees and is the chair of The White House Project, which seeks to foster the entry of women into positions of leadership, including the U.S. Presidency.
Puriefoy earned a B.A. from William Smith College in 1971. She was the first-ever student trustee elected to sit on the Board of Trustees and was a member of the Presidential Committee on Minority Affairs and the Academic Affairs Committee. She received her master's degree in history from Boston University in 1972, majoring in Afro-American studies, American studies and American colonial history - museums and historic preservation. Puriefoy completed her coursework for a Ph.D. at Boston University on a Martin Luther King Scholarship.
In 1992, Puriefoy returned to the Hobart and William Smith Board of Trustees, serving for two years. She is a founding member of the Advisory Board of The Fisher Center and received the Alumnae Achievement Award in 2000.