The members of the Atlanta Chapter were destined to be “Girl Friends”. In 1966, when a group of friends came together to organize a bridge club, they chose the name “Girl Friends.” The friends immediately changed their club’s name to “Les Girls” upon hearing of a national organization known as “The Girl Friends, Incorporated.” This sparked a desire in Les Girls to affiliate with a national group whose main focus is to foster friendship. Soon thereafter, they began implementing plans to officially join that organization. It took years of patience, diligence, perseverance, determination and hard work on our part – as well of that of our sponsoring chapter, Columbus, Ohio – before the dream of becoming a part of The Girl Friends family became a reality. Finally, during the weekend of October 1-3, 1971, in the new spectacular Hyatt Regency Hotel, the flame of Atlanta beamed bright as the 26th Girl Friends chapter was installed, the first in the Deep South.
The organizer and first president was Cleopatra Johnson, to whom we feel a special sense of gratitude. Other charter members were Gloria Allain*, Mary Arnold*, Carolyn Blasingame*, Joy San Brown*, Mary Ellen Boazman*, Margaret Brown*, Patricia Cannon*, Georgia Nelle Dickens*, Margaret Gilbert*, Pearl Hicks*, Lois King*, Stella Lewis*, Romae Powell*, Otelia Russell*, Dellie Shorter*, Mirian Shropshire* and Gwen Smith*. Since beginning with eighteen members, the Atlanta Chapter’s circle of friendship has grown with wonderful new members, daughters and transfers.
Atlanta Girl Friends have contributed to the National organization as well with National Vice President Yvonne Gloster; National Secretaries Annette Van DeVere and Elizabeth Espy; National Nominating Committee Chair Patricia Budd; President’s Committee on “Strengthening and Renewing Our Friendship” member Anne Allison; Legal Advisory Committee members Julia Demetrius and Robyn Crittenden; and membership on various other committees.
We have hosted many landmark events celebrating our friendships, including hosting the 46th National Conclave in May 22-24, 1981 at the Atlanta Hilton. The theme was “Atlanta: A Southern Fantasy” and a good time was had by all! The Atlanta Girl Friends showed true Southern Hospitality and wowed the visiting Girl Friends with a Cotton Club party, Black History tours, and a Candlelight Gala. The Boy Friends enjoyed games of tennis during the day and danced the evenings away with their Girl Friends.
In October 1996, the Atlanta Chapter of The Girl Friends®, Incorporated celebrated its 25th Anniversary with a black-tie Silver Gala at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, chaired by Cynthia Session. We took stock of our bright past and planned for our future. We also realized we could be proud of our many accomplishments. We have proudly sponsored fundraisers to supplement our personal contributions to deserving recipients, such as the NAACP, UNCF, The Children’s Defense Fund and The Girl Friends Fund, Inc. In addition, we have given to many local charities, including the Sadie G. Mays Memorial Children’s Home, the Premier Nursing Home, the Hightower Manor Senior Citizens Home, the Center for Children and Young Adults, the Cascade Battered Women’s Shelter, Soccer in The Streets and the Carrie Steele Pitts Home. Additionally, we have spearheaded several projects benefitting underserved communities in Atlanta, including making and distributing gift-filled holiday shoeboxes and collecting and sorting canned goods for the Atlanta Community Food Bank.
Before we knew it, we were celebrating our 30th Anniversary with a Yule Season Gala at the Atlanta Airport Hilton, chaired by Tonya Curry and Elizabeth Espy. The gorgeous centerpieces and toe-tapping music made the evening extra special.
The Atlanta Chapter celebrated 35 years of friendship and service with a ladies luncheon at the Four Seasons Hotel on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, October 29, 2006. It was a reminder of how special this group of ladies is and we had a lovely lunch while enjoying each other’s company. Our first president, Cleopatra Johnson, gave a warm toast and we had a fun activity where Girl Friends won prizes to finish off the day.
In 2011, we gathered at 103 West to celebrate 40 years of friendship with a fabulous ladies luncheon and entertainment. The event, chaired by Kimberly Alexander, was attended by Girl Friends and their friends. We were honored to recognize our charter members at the memorable affair. Girl Friends traveled from as far away as South Florida and Maryland to attend. National President Daryl Jordan-Washington sent special greetings to our chapter.
In 2016, we celebrated 45 years of friendship during our holiday party at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel chaired by GF Lativia Alston. We enjoyed a delicious meal, fantastic music and partied all night with our Girl Friends, Boy Friends and Friends.
We are looking forward to many more years of serving our community and growing closer together as a group of Girl Friends – always continuing to strengthen the bond of our friendship chain.
Meetings: 2nd Friday evening of the month – September through June
Membership is by invitation