(Apr. 14, 1950 – Nov. 10, 2016). Yvonne Perkins was born to Leander O. Perkins and Naomi Coleman Perkins in Indianapolis, Indiana. She attended Indianapolis Public Schools, graduating from Shortridge High School. Perkins earned a bachelor’s degree in business at Butler University in 1971. While still a student at Butler, she began working at Citizens Energy Group, serving as a student accountant. She remained at Citizens for the duration of her professional career.

A woman points to a poster board to explain something to a group of other women standing around a table.
Annual Cookie Sale Training and Luncheon sponsored by the Hoosier Capital Girl Scout Council (Yvonne Perkins is second from the right), 1984 Credit: Indianapolis Recorder Collection, Indiana Historical Society View Source

In 1993, Perkins received her MBA from Indiana Wesleyan University. Deeply committed to ongoing professional development, Perkins pursued certificate programs at several institutions including Claremont College, the University of Oklahoma, and Harvard University.

Perkins served in multiple leadership positions during her 43-year tenure at Citizens Energy Group, ultimately becoming vice president of corporate communications and chief diversity officer. Her vision and leadership helped propel the company to become a local and national leader in the industry. She developed the company’s Corporate Philanthropy Strategic Plan and the first Diversity Strategic Plan. Perkins also published Citizens’ first Corporate Responsibility Report and established four endowed scholarships in the utility’s name to help Indianapolis students pursue higher education. She was also instrumental in the development of the company’s website, provided leadership during the corporate name change, and implemented strategies for the reuse of the former Citizens Coke Manufacturing facility.

Perkins was honorary chairwoman for the 2013 NAWBO National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) Trailblazers conference, the premier event for female business owners in Indiana to connect with each other and with resources to drive their businesses forward.

Nonprofit governance issues and community needs drove Perkins’ passion for civic engagement. She served at national levels for Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. and Girl Scouts of America. Locally she was a charter member of the Circle City Chapter of The Links Inc. and the 100 Black Women of Indianapolis, Inc.. She served on dozens of boards including United Way Of Central Indiana, Planned Parenthood Of Indiana And Kentucky, Ivy Tech Community College, Indianapolis Chamber Of Commerce, the Indiana Historical Society, Downtown Indy, EmployIndy, the Center for Leadership Development, and the IUPUI University Library Community Board.

During her service with the IUPUI University Library Community Board Perkins supported the library’s Diversity Scholars Program, which offers paid internships in the library to undergraduate students. Interns help carry out the library’s diversity initiatives and gain professional experience and valuable research skills. As a staunch advocate for the program Perkins recruited funding from Citizens Energy as a program sponsor.

Numerous local and national organizations recognized Perkins’ community philanthropy. She received the IUPUI Spirit of Philanthropy Award, the NAWBO Award, and lifetime achievement awards from the Ywca of Indianapolis, and United Way of Central Indiana. She was also the recipient of Indiana’s highest civilian honor: the Sagamore of the Wabash.

Perkins’ community vision extended to her church, Allen Chapel AME where she was a longtime member. In 2013 Perkins established the church’s annual family Christmas concert featuring music, readings, and theatrical performances. The church used the 2016 event to celebrate her life and legacy.

Revised June 2022

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