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Community Activist, Servant Leader Cecilia Houston-Torrence Honored at Atlanta City Hall

Longtime Atlanta citizen and community activist Cecilia Houston-Torrence was honored by the Atlanta City Council on Monday, September 18, 2023. She was commended for her outstanding community service to Atlanta and to several non-profit organizations.

A little-known fact about Houston-Torrence is that, as pointed out by her close friend Susan “Sue” Ross, at a very young age, Houston-Torrence and her sisters integrated Christ the King Elementary School in Daphne, Alabama in 1965. Perhaps her activism began then as a natural born “mover and shaker.” She was also the first African-American woman to be inducted into her High School Athletic Hall of fame in 2012 for Tennis and Volleyball.

Houston-Torrence, lovingly called Cee Cee by close family and friends, is also among the first Black females to have enrolled and graduated from Georgia Tech. While at Georgia Tech, she was very instrumental in student social action, the positive leadership of Black students on the campus, the forming of a Christian gospel group that is still involved in campus and alumni activities. She is very involved with Georgis Tech alumni events and GT Black Alumni Organization activities.

Atlanta City Councilwoman Andrea L. Boone read her accomplishments and presented the proclamation and trophy to Houston-Torrence. Several friends and fellow civic leaders made many comments about Houston-Torrence.

Cecilia Houston-Torrence is a retired community involvement banking officer for the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta (FHLBA), where she was employed for twenty-six years. She served as the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta’s liaison to non-profit and civic organizations to evaluate opportunities for the FHLBA to increase its commitment to the community. She worked in the Housing Market Analysis, Correspondent Bank  Services  and  Business  Development Departments. She served on the Atlanta Citizen Review Board (ACRB), representing the League of Women Voters Atlanta/Fulton County.

Houston-Torrence is a former president of the League of Women Voters Atlanta/Fulton County and the chief operating officer of the Leigh Torrence Southwest Atlanta Youth Foundation. She has tirelessly worked with American Red Cross Minority Recruitment Board, Sickle Cell Foundation of Georgia, Anti-Prejudice Consortium, Atlanta Inter-Faith Aids Network, Atlanta Urban Ministries, American Cancer Society, EarthShare of Georgia, March of Dimes, National Black Arts Festival Gala Committee (she was chair in 2011), Senior Connections, Midtown Assistance Center, Families First, Future Foundation and Boys and Girls Club of Metro Atlanta. Houston-Torrence has provided leadership as a member of  the  YWCA  of Greater Atlanta’s Salute to Women of Achievement Campaign, Logistics and Steering Committees.

She is a member of  Saint Anthony of Padua Catholic Church where she has served as the Parish Life Coordinator and Chairs the Bereavement Ministry. Houston-Torrence is a member of the Southeastern Lieutenancy of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, having been nominated by Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory.

Houston-Torrence has been honored by the Trumpet Awards Foundation at the annual “High Heels in High Places” luncheon, inducted into the YWCA of Greater Atlanta’s Academy of Women Achievers, named as one of “Rolling Out” Magazine’s twenty-five most influential women in Atlanta, recipient of the Butterflies and Allies award by Chayill, Inc., Atlanta Business League’s Women of Influence, and received the Atlanta Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Torch Award.

Susan “Sue” Ross, one of Atlanta’s reknown civil rights photojournalists, made loving comments for her longtime friend Houston-Torrence. Ross borrowed verses from poets to describe Houston-Torrence. “Cee Cee, Maya Angelou says is a ‘phenomenal woman.’ ” From Nikki Giovanni’s poem “Ego Tripping (there may be a reason why)”, Ross states that “Cee Cee is ‘so perfect, so divine, so ethereal, so surreal;’ Cee Cee ‘cannot be comprehended except by’ her ‘permission.’ Cee Cee ‘can fly, like a bird in the sky.’ ” Ross concludes with a stanza from Mari Evans’ “I am a Black Woman,” saying, ‘I am a Black Woman, tall as a cypress, strong beyond all definition, still defying place and time and circumstance, assailed, impervious, indestructible. Look on me, and be renewed.’ ”

Statement from The Atlanta Inquirer Publisher / Editor John B. Smith, Jr. on Cecilia Houston-Torrence
The Atlanta Inquirer Publisher/Editor John B. Smith, Jr. and The Atlanta Inquirer family congratulates Cecilia “Cee Cee” Houston-Torrence and thanks her for her servant leadership and contributions over the years. Publisher/Editor Smith, Jr. states that he is “so proud and honored to have known Houston-Torrence through several different connections, including Georgia Tech, Georgia Tech Alumni Association, Sickle Cell Foundation of Georgia, and throughout the community.”

Houston-Torrence is an appointed member of the Piedmont Park Conservancy. She is leader and co-founder of the Nature Gurlz. The Nature Gurlz group was formed out of need during the COVID-19 pandemic. Counteracting people’s anxiety and feelings of hopelessness, approximately 40 or more women join one another and walk for health and fellowship, safely distanced, at the Cascade Springs Nature Preserve off of Southwest Atlanta’s historic Cascade Road. At times, they also walk Atlanta’s newly developed BeltLine paths. The ladies, aged 60 to 85+, have all been strong fixtures in Atlanta’s business skyline, affiliated with many companies and associations in Atlanta. As the group gathers early on mornings, it enables friends to interact and socialize as well as exercise. Since its founding, the group has also expanded to have a few Nature Guyz among its members. The group continues to raise awareness about elections, gets voters engaged, shares resources and knowledge to vote, informs people of community and civic events.

Houston-Torrence is married to Leigh Torrence, Sr. and has one son, Leigh, Jr. (NFL defensive back coach and former NFL defensive back who played with the Atlanta Falcons in 2005, New Orleans Saints from 2008-2011, and other NFL teams).

Last updated on September 27, 2023

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