Volume 54, Number 1 Winter 2021

The Community Practitioner

Edited by Mayra Guerrero and Olya Glantsman, DePaul University

A Search for Global Truth

An educator, advocate, fixer, and healer – this is how psychologist Dr. Vernita Perkins describes how she approaches her role in promoting global wellness and meaningful living within corporate systems, communities, and the daily lives of individuals. Dr. Perkins is the Founder and Chief Scientist of Omnigi Research, an innovative hybrid global entity, composed of multi-disciplinary scientists committed to the real-world application of rigorous research aimed at health, wellness, innovative leadership, and purposeful, meaningful living.

Looking back on her childhood, Dr. Perkins remembers how she questioned the injustices she witnessed and experienced, and saw the need to identify solutions. Her family valued education, which made Dr. Perkins become infatuated with both research and literature. Research fed her curiosity. Literature made her fall in love with writing, in part because in writing we have the power to convey ideas and envision a better world. For Dr. Perkins, education is about continuous learning and improvement. Education enlightened her on the human benefits of empathy and self-awareness. To her, doing the inner self-development work should precede everything else. 

Dr. Perkins started her professional career in private sector corporations, before pursuing further graduate school. While in the private sector, Dr. Perkins encountered systemic issues due to ineffective leadership and toxic organizational cultures. At first, she believed that these were isolated issues, and learned over time the depth of these embedded structures.

Dr. Perkins’ fixer-identity continued to emerge, from fixing watches, clocks, and other mechanical items as a child, to fixing systems and processes in corporate settings. Identified in corporate and academic spaces as a problem-solver, she committed to finding solutions for the challenges she observed. She realized that to enact real change within corporate systems, she needed to acquire additional knowledge and tools. This led her to pursue a Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership from The Chicago School for Professional Psychology. In graduate school and beyond, her scholarly work focuses on understanding leaders and improving their leadership, broadly defined as any individual in a decision-making position (including parents, caregivers, religious leaders, organizational leaders, and governmental leaders alike). During her graduate career, Dr. Perkins was never afraid to question systems, even if it meant challenging established hierarchies, despite the push-back, exclusion, and marginalization she received. If answers were not provided, she kept searching, despite how easy it would have been to abandon the effort, her integrity and tenacity prevailed. 

These days, she is committed to dismantling oppressive systems, visioning and implementing cohesive, collaborative practices, and closing the wealth gap. “I’m on the side of humanity,” says Dr. Perkins, “people can and should work together, and we have to do our best to take care of each other.” She calls it the “only global truth” that we are here to live meaningful, fulfilled lives, to daily transform into the best humans we can be, and to express empathy, concern, and care for others. Nothing is about the individual alone and we achieve nothing alone, this pandemic has made that very clear. This call for action is a breath of fresh air in our too often self-centered and individualistic society. One way we can do this is by cleaning up our culture, our language (the harmful terms and sayings we use), what we choose to value, how we develop our consciousness, and literally the way we choose to independently think and behave. She also calls for reform in leadership, specifically discouraging those who jump into leadership roles with ulterior motives or self-interested agendas. “I am always suspicious of people who crave leadership. Within leadership scholarship, we know how difficult and humbling leadership can be when practiced in service, ethically, and transformatively.” According to Dr. Perkins, some things are not up for interpretation, like the fact that everyone and every living thing deserves an equitable existence. Since we live in a society where this equation does not compute, it means we are not living the way we should and now must. In everything that she does, she infuses this civilizational justice. 

As humans, we cannot exist without others and we affect each other by what we do, and because thinking affects behavior, psychologists are needed more than ever. As psychologists, we can assist with self-development work--first by knowing our own emotions and how our thoughts and behavior affects others. Dr. Perkins says, “no one has the right to claim to be an expert, who does not daily practice their own self-development with self-reflection and self-governance.” And even the field of psychology itself needs to significantly change, evolving its practitioners and scholars to focus more on empathy, integrity, ethics, and self-awareness, as opposed to self-promoting, self-interest, and profit-seeking. This is, perhaps, why Dr. Perkins found a home in the community psychology field, a subfield of psychology that embodies some of the same values that Dr. Perkins ascribes to. Moving forward, Dr. Perkins believes we need to ultimately change our thinking solely towards the good of all, and to each identify our true purpose. While she finds it saddening that so many aspects of our society need to be healed and transformed, she is grateful that she can use her unique skill set to do so.  

To learn about Dr. Perkins and Omnigi Research, To get connected: Instagram @omnigi.research.