A native of Cleveland, the youngest of three siblings raised by a single mother, LaRese Purnell lived back and forth between the Virgin Islands during his early childhood. And, once his family remained in the States, they found themselves shuffled through many of the city’s homeless shelters.
“Even though we experienced hard times, my mother was always very loving,” he said. “I remember her always trying to make the best of it.”
To relieve some burden, as a teen, Purnell worked several odd jobs including caddying at Highland Golf Course. He even started shoveling snow and formed a crew. He did this until going off to college.
After graduating from Warrensville Heights High School, and realizing he had a knack for math and numbers, he attended the University of Toledo where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in Professional Sales and Marketing, as well as a Master of Business Administration in Finance.
He spent some time in banking yet eventually re-discovered his passion for entrepreneurship.
Purnell currently serves as a managing partner of CLE, Creating Leading Enterprises, an accounting and professional services consulting firm. He believes living aboard made him well-round culturally and attributes it to the work ethic he maintains today while his memories of those who helped, by investing their time and money into his family, motivate him to give back to the community he was once a part of, as well as the community at large.
His humanitarian efforts extend to a number of organizations. As president of the Board at Faith Community United Credit Union, Purnell devotes countless hours addressing financial issues responsible for the disconnection between community residents and their financial wealth with a focus on the under-banked and underserved.
He is a board member of the YMCA of Greater Cleveland, South Pointe Cleveland Clinic Hospital, the Urban League of Greater Cleveland, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Cleveland and the Council for Economic Opportunities in Greater Cleveland.
He is also the author of “Financial Foundations: Building Financial Freedom One Tool at a Time.” Using everyday language, Purnell addresses the most fundamental questions and concerns people have about money.
Purnell is best known for his development of The Real Black Friday, an initiative to bring awareness and exposure to Black-owned and operated businesses in northeastern Ohio. The purpose is to inform the community of the number and types of Black-owned businesses, while also encouraging individuals to support these businesses as consumers financially.
The website, www.therealblackfriday.com was created for use by businesses to advertise their services and deals and to assist consumers to locate them. He has created a vehicle, the Lynx card that allows consumers to take advantage of discounts throughout the year. The Lynx card is available through the website.
A proud father of two wonderful children who are being nurtured as wealth builders of their generation, Purnell is a family man who proudly professes God as the head of his household. His faith was shaped at a young age as his grandmother deemed it mandatory to attend church every Sunday. He remembers his pastor telling him, “God has a call on your life.”
That helped him maintain gratefulness and stay connected. “It’s my purpose. It’s something bigger than me,” he said. “It’s all about serving the people.”