On Saturday, October 12, Purnell School honored actress and activist Alyssa Milano by designating her as an E.B. Osborn Fellow.
This award has an important place in Purnell's history and is presented on occasion to a recipient who has done good works on behalf of others and enriched communities both local and global. The Fellowship is not given frequently; in fact, it has been exactly a full decade since the last EB Osborn Fellow was named at Purnell School.
Purnell chose to honor Ms. Milano for her dedication to causes that matter deeply to her. For 15 years, she has been a UNICEF National Ambassador. In 2016, she received their Spirit of Compassion Award for her dedication to their mission of advocating for the protection of children's rights, helping meet their basic needs, and expanding their opportunities to reach their full potential. During the course of that work, Ms. Milano developed a close friendship with Bishop Desmond Tutu. In addition, her advancement of #MeToo sparked a viral movement giving voice and platform to women fighting against sexual harassment and assault in the workplace, and she has been involved in TimesUp since its inception.
As part of the award ceremony, Head of School Anne M. Glass and Ms. Milano engaged in a wide-ranging conversation in Purnell's Carney Center for the Performing Arts. In front of an audience of 200 students, parents, special guests, faculty, and staff, Ms. Milano spoke about her work on behalf of UNICEF, Charity:Water, gun reform, and animal rights. She also discussed her involvement in the ERA Coalition's Advisory Council to renew a long overdue commitment to women's equal rights.
"Alyssa fearlessly continues to use her voice and platform to advocate for social justice, fairness and equality for all," said Anne Glass, Purnell's 8th Head of School.
Interestingly for many at Purnell, Alyssa also has dyslexia and shared with the audience her own insights into how she learned to compensate and work around her dyslexia. Purnell School specializes in offering a combination of strong academics along with a health and wellness program for girls who learn differently.
During the interview, Alyssa not only answered questions from Purnell's Head of School, but also took questions from the students in the audience about acting, activism, and work-family balance. She told the students and assembled guests to be true to themselves and to use their voices to advocate for the causes in which they believe.
"Alyssa is a true humanitarian who recognizes her power to effect positive change in our society. She leads with her strong intellect and generous heart in equal measure," said Ms. Glass. "It was a true pleasure and inspiration to speak with her and get to know her. She is an immediately engaging and warm person."
The day culminated in a reception following the award presentation where Ms. Milano talked with Purnell students, posed for pictures, and openly encouraged the girls to follow their hearts.