Dr. Julia Perilla, our founder, has received scores of awards and is considered a leader in her field but if you ask her, her life, her work rests on a simple philosophy: listen. In 1990 she listened when a Catholic sister talked to her about the problem of domestic violence in her community. That year she started Caminar Latino. Perilla didn’t have a background in dealing with these issues, a fact that gave her pause but she realized that the women would tell her what she needed to know. That’s why in 1993 Perilla and Caminar Latino started a children’s program. And why in 1995 they began programming for men. ”The women were the ones who told us what was needed.” Perilla says. They asked Perilla for help with their children and they asked Caminar Latino to not neglect the men. Perilla listened when the women said “you have to make sure the men are getting all the information that we are.” In describing her work, Perilla uses words like “collective” and “collaborative.” She’s quick to smile and insists, she’s no expert, she just listens. Her insight and widsom has led Perilla to help countless of families in turmoil and along with the work, she’s also picked up some impressive accolades.
Perilla has consulted with the Centers for Disease Control, The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. She’s advised Georgia’s Commission on Family Violence and the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, to name just a few. Her work has appeared in dozens of journals and garnered awards from her peers.
In 2005, just ten years after she obtained her doctorate in Psychology, Perilla was honored by the Georgia Psychological Association as their Woman of the Year. More recently, she was invited by Vice President Biden to a dinner commemorating the Violence Against Women Act.
In addition to writing and conducting research, Perila also teaches. As faculty member in the Department of Psychology at Georgia State University Perilla relishes her role teaching classes on the ethics of psychology. She also heads up the National Latino Research Center on Family and Social Change. On campus her door is always open to students and she routinely mentors Goizueta Scholars. In 2011 her work was recognized with the Carl V. Patton President’s Award for Community Service and Social Action Outstanding Faculty Award. In all facets, Perilla manages to work with a smile because as she puts it “I never work alone.” Whether it’s sharing a laugh with her colleagues or accompanying one of Caminar Latino’s young people to speak at a conference, Perilla says she always learns as much as she teaches. Her life, her work, is “a dream come true.” She is now keeping busy mentoring the next generation of Latina/o scholars who can continue to work from a human rights and social justice perspective.