Julia Perilla, PhD

Julia was born in Bogata, Colombia on June 1, 1945. 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.  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.

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. 

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. 

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, Alexandria Truitt, Natasha Truitt, Sofia Fusco, Ethan Lee, Juliana Lee, Luke Nunan and the youngest Logan Nunan.