Dr. Julia Perilla of Atlanta, Georgia passed away peacefully on October 25, 2018 after celebrating family night with her loved ones. She spent her final moments listening to one of her favorite bands, Los Panchos, with her granddaughter, Natasha. She was 73.
Julia is survived by her daughters Leonor Angarita, Pilar Fusco, Monica Lee, and Jessica Nunan and her son John Parker; as well as her eight grandchildren: Zachary Truitt, age 7 Alexandria Truitt, 24, Natasha Truitt, 23, Sofia Fusco, 11, Ethan Lee, 8, Juliana Lee, 6, Luke Nunan 7, and the youngest at 3 years old, Logan Nunan; and her partner of 17 years Kim Frndak.
Julia was born in Bogata, Colombia on June 1, 1945. Even as a young woman, she won many awards, graduating from Colegio Abraham Lincoln private high school as valedictorian. She earned her Bachelors, Masters, and Doctorate degree from Georgia State University while working two jobs and caring for her children and graduated in 1995. Julia valued education, setting the stage where each of her children would also receive a college education. She taught her children and those around her to live life with honesty and integrity and to use their skills and privilege to make the community rise.
Few things brought her as much joy as going to church, dancing a cumbia, and traveling with those she loved. For everyone the fondest memories are the look of happiness Julia had with all her grandkids and when she was doing the work she loved.
Until 2015, Julia held the position of clinical community psychologist and faculty member in the Psychology Department at Georgia State University. Her work in the areas of domestic violence, diversity, Latino families, and trauma utilized a human rights and social justice framework which she applies to her research and interventions with immigrant communities. She relished her role teaching classes on the ethics of psychology and mentoring the next generation of Latina/o scholars. She is the founder of Caminar Latino, a comprehensive intervention for Latino families affected by domestic violence, past President of Tapestri, Inc. (a non-profit immigrant and refugee organization) and an appointee to the Georgia Commission on Family Violence.
In 2011, Julia’s work was recognized with the Carl V. Patton President’s Award for Community Service and Social Action Outstanding Faculty Award. In 2005, she was honored by the Georgia Psychological Association as their Woman of the Year, was invited to commemorate the Violence Against Women Act with Vice President Biden and received the Georgia Psychological Association Division of Women Psychologists 2005 Woman of the Year Award. Other awards include the Georgia Psychological Association 2003 Community Service Award, the Georgia State University Exceptional Service Award in 2000, and the Georgia Commission on Family Violence 2001 Gender Justice Award for her work with immigrant populations affected by domestic violence.
Until recently, even her closest friends and colleagues were unaware of the impact she had nationally in the violence against women’s field. Though Julia insisted she was guided by a simple philosophy: women will tell you what they need, you just have to listen, believe them and let them lead change; she was considered a leader in her field. As just a sprinkling of Julia’s contributions, she was a founder of the National Latino Alliance for the Elimination of Domestic Violence, the first national organization to focus on domestic violence issues and concerns of Latinos in the United States. She served on many national advisory committees including the National Domestic Violence, Trauma and Mental Health Center; the National Domestic Violence Hotline and the American Psychological Association’s Presidential Initiative on Violence Against Women and Children. Colleagues who worked closely with her across every state and territory grieve her loss. She was a gift to the movement, served as a mentor and friend to many of the nation’s most respected leaders, and was seen as a mother of the movement by many in the Latino community. That work culminated earlier this year with the creation of a national arm of Caminar Latino called Latinos United for Peace and Equity that will continue to advance Julia’s legacy across the United States and internationally.
Her service will take place on Friday, November 2, 2018 at 11am at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church at 25 Boulevard NE in Atlanta, GA. Julia requested that we not mourn the loss but instead celebrate her life. As a result, she did not want anybody to wear black to her service.
In lieu of flowers, Julias’s family wishes that <a href=”/?page_id=22″>donations to be made to Caminar Latino</a> and that we each work to create and set a place at the table for everyone in our homes and in our work.