Dr. Beth Purvis is the Director of the Program’s Educating Character Initiative. A longtime leader in education, Purvis has more than 33 years of experience in teaching, research, and leadership. From 2017 to 2023, she served as Senior Program Director at the Kern Family Foundation. During her time there, she led the Education & Character team by partnering with institutions, organizations, and individuals to pursue innovative approaches to character formation and educational leadership. During her time with the Foundation, the Education & Character portfolio invested significantly in more than 60 partners and helped to foster a national network of character educators at colleges and universities.

From 2015 to 2017, Purvis served as the Secretary of Education for the State of Illinois. Most notably, she chaired a bipartisan commission that produced the framework upon which landmark school funding legislation was developed and passed, providing more adequate and equitable funding for all Illinois children. Purvis was CEO of the Chicago International Charter School (CICS) network from 2003 to 2015 where she led a network of 16 schools serving 8,800 students. An assistant professor of special education at the University of Illinois at Chicago from 1999 until 2003, her teaching and research focused on very young children with disabilities. She earned a B.S. in education from Bucknell University, an M.A. in education from Teachers College at Columbia University, and an Ed.D. from Peabody College at Vanderbilt University. Purvis lives with her husband and two children, one of whom will attend Wake Forest as a first-year student in the fall.

Photo of Beth Purvis
Beth Purvis
Director of the Educating Character Initiative

purvise@wfu.edu