Giving back and growing stronger

After his mother’s death, Jiffy Lube International’s vice president of legal found strength in altruism and his community

The adage Travis Torrence’s parents handed him as they packed him off to college has become a cornerstone of his work ethic. “They said, ‘We’re sending you to college to make a better life for yourself,’” Torrence says. “The subtext was all about that old adage, ‘We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.’”

Now the vice president of legal for Jiffy Lube International and senior legal counsel for Shell Oil, Torrence oversees a network of 2,000 locally owned and operated quick lube and light maintenance shops across the nation. He brings his parents’  lesson to his work and to his projects outside of the office.

When Torrence was a junior in college, he lost his mother after a fast and devastating battle with colorectal cancer. “My dad didn’t know how to deal with his own grief, let alone mine. It was probably one of the darkest periods of my life,” he says.

That period led Torrence to Bo’s Place, a grief support center that helps children and families who have lost a loved one. He is president-elect of the organization’s board of directors, and his perspective helps him in the center’s mission to aid those  who are grieving.  “I don’t think that anyone, especially children, should have to go through that process alone,” he says. “To get through it, I had to show an immense amount of resilience. I had to grow up really quickly, and I had to focus on what was important.”

He adds, “I tell people going through the same situation to take a step back and really acknowledge their grief, acknowledge what they are feeling, and try to do their best to pay homage and tribute to the loved one who has passed on.”

Torrence is also a member of the executive committee for the AIDS Foundation of Houston’s board of directors, which works on prevention as well as providing

“It’s incumbent on us to use our special skills and unique talents to shape society for the better.” 

housing and supportive services to individuals and families impacted by HIV/AIDS.
He chaired World AIDS Day for the group a few years ago.

Torrenced chaired the homeless committee for the Houston Bar Association and collected more than 10,000 items of clothing and 23,000 diapers from 92 law firms in Houston, Texas, for families in need across the city.

Torrence works on projects that help people facing their darkest times; still, he isn’t afraid to have a little fun. Torrence is the reigning champion of Dancing with the Stars of Houston; he earned that title at a gala while performing original Janet Jackson choreography. He raised money for Urban Souls Dance Company, an organization that teaches children from low-income families how to dance, which builds their confidence, self-esteem, and artistry.

In the near future, Torrence plans to work with Victory Fund, an organization that vets and supports LGBT candidates for local, state, and national office. He will serve as honorary chair of the Victory Fund champagne brunch in Houston.

This initiative is part of his long commitment to inclusion; he is passionate about increasing diversity in the legal field. “I want to leave the legal profession better and more diverse than I found it,” he says. “We reach better, more creative, and the most cost-effective solutions when we bring people together who view issues and problems through a different lens or perspective.”

For the last two years, Torrence has been the chair of the Texas Minority Counsel program, which opens doors for female and minority attorneys through networking and mentorship. The group visits local elementary schools in diverse neighborhoods and talks about the importance of the legal profession.

Lawyers are uniquely suited to give back in the nonprofit sector, Torrence explains. He says lawyers’ skills in organization, analyzing, attention to detail, and negotiation can all be beneficial for nonprofits.

Torrence says he sees giving back as going hand-in-hand with being a lawyer.

“I truly believe that the law is a noble profession, and we’re really fortunate to get to be a part of it,” Torrence says. “Since the beginning of time, lawyers have been seen as a force for good, and we need to continue that legacy. It’s incumbent on us to use our special skills and unique talents to shape society for the better.”

Torrence always remembers the words of Maya Angelou when working for a cause he is passionate about: “You should try to be the rainbow in someone else’s cloud.” That’s why his favorite part of his philanthropic work is seeing the impact it has on the community.

“The smiles on the faces of kids who are dealing with grief, children who don’t get to smile very often, that warms my heart,” Torrence says. “Seeing the gratitude in the eyes of residents in housing communities sponsored by the AIDS Foundation of Houston, or the maturity and self-esteem in kids who dance with Urban Souls Dance Company—all of that is what drives me.”