Meet the Performers: Art Nights | 20/20
Amanda Furdge Biography
In addition to over 10 solid years and counting as a nationally and internationally known spoken word poet and author, Amanda Furdge is known for possessing a wide array of talents, as well as being highly respected as a mother, community leader, writer and cultural/social influencer. Born and raised in Jackson and throughout the Delta of Mississippi, she began her own journey into creativity as a necessity at 8 years old as a student at Power APAC which at the time was Mississippi’s only academic and performing arts complex. Her first poems landed her yearly placements in the annual Jackson Public School district’s Martin Luther King Oratorical contests. In time, Amanda was known for her writing and performing and hosting of the first and only open mic night to be held at City Hall in Jackson during the years 2005-2006. Upon high school graduation, Amanda relocated to Chicago, IL after a brief stint in the US Navy and became a well trusted and respected poet and writer. She has served as a resident teaching artist for Young Chicago Authors, Chicago Public Schools and a number of faith-based organizations. Amanda moved back to Mississippi in January of 2014. Self-publishing her first collection of non-fictional stories about growing up in Mississippi, motherhood and art in 2016.
Featured on numerous websites, blogs, stages, projects and records in many artistic capacities ranging from writing to producing; she aspires to write and record organic material with tremendous depth that will inspire listeners and readers to empower change. Always giving all credit to the Most High God, she believes that the spirits of our ancestors walk with us every day and is determined to share her personal legend with the world. Her most recently published work “From A Brown Paper Bag” is available on Amazon. She has been nominated for “Poet of the Year” by the Jackson Music Awards two years in a row, winning after her first nomination in 2018. Amanda is the Youth Program Coordinator for the Children’s Defense Fund-Southern Region Office and the Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative for Social and Economic Justice (SRBWI), where she directs the Unita Blackwell Young Women’s Leadership Institute (YWLI) a program that reached its 14th year in 2019 serving young women across the Mississippi Delta, Black Belt counties of Alabama and Southwest Georgia. She also serves as the Social Media Database Manager. She is responsible for the development and execution of high impact youth-centered curricula and programming, as well community organizing and advocacy with a specific emphasis on controlling one’s own narrative via the written word. Amanda is dedicated to seeing young people; in particular young women of color - learn life lessons, control their own narratives, and lead while growing. She is a graduate of Lanier High School in Jackson, Mississippi, she served briefly in the United States Navy, gained college credits from Hinds (Raymond, MS) and Harry S. Truman (Chicago, IL). She has earned a para-professional certification from the Illinois State Board of Education, a medical assisting certification from the American Association of Medical Assistants and has worked as a flight attendant. Amanda is an organizer and community activist serving communities across the county in various capacities. She is married to Dexter Shelby and mother to three sons, Titan, Mega and Seven.
Kate Woodley Biography
Kate Woodley is a Clinical Social Worker, Certified Trauma Treatment Specialist, and Drama Therapist. She has spent the last ten years serving homeless and runaway teens, justice and foster care involved youth, as well as grieving children and families. Compassion, creativity, empowerment, integrity, self-determination, and social justice are central tenets in her life and work. She listens closely and is passionate about the power of art and self-expression to educate, heal,and unite. She holds a BA in Theater and English from the College of William & Mary, a Master’s degree in Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University, and has studied at the International School for Physical Theater, Accademia dell’Arte, and the Ecole Philippe Gaulier. Ms. Woodley has led Theater for Social Change workshops at Millsaps College, the Mississippi Museum of Art, and New Stage Theatre. As an actor, director, and mask-maker she has worked professionally on numerous performances with Wolfbane Productions in Virginia. More recently, she’s enjoyed performing with Jackson’s own New Stage Theatre and Blue Light Underground Ensemble.
Pam Confer Biography
Pam Confer is an international, award-winning, bilingual professional speaker, singer, business consultant, public relations guru, and sports clay enthusiast. She explodes with confidence, teaching everyone how a simple smile can move the world. Founder of Speak BIG!, an effective communications and public speaking program, Confer’s open mind, personal stories and amusing training style inspire all to Speak Up! Speak Out! and Speak Often!Pam is a human resources consultant and trainer, and has served as a lead instructor and curriculum developer for the Mississippi State Personnel Board for approximately 15 years. She has traveled the Southern region, offering specialized keynotes and trainings for governmental entities, educational institutions, public and private sectors. Pam was one of the MS Business Journal’s 2015 “Top 50 Leading MS Business - Women;” a 2016 Girl Scouts of Greater Mississippi “Woman of Distinction;” a 2017 Jackson Convention and Visitors Bureau “Hometown Hero;” the Jackson Advocate newspaper’s 2017 “Woman of the Year;” and, the Jackson Convention and Visitors Bureau 2018 “Tourism Visionary” awardee. In December of 2017, she became the first African-American woman president of the Canton, MS Chamber of Commerce. This is her second time making history, as she also was named the first woman constable in Hinds County in 2008. In December of 2017, Pam wrote, recorded and debuted the song, “Mississippi Beautiful,” a tribute to the state’s bicentennial and the opening of the Two Museums. The uplifting song is permanently featured in the “Where Do We Go from Here” Gallery of Mississippi’s new Civil Rights Museum. Over the past year, “Mississippi Beautiful” has been performed at over 70 graduations, history programs,and celebratory events across the state. It was also chosen as an official song for the Hinds County School District. A significant milestone for the song, Governor Phil Bryant recently declared May 10 as “Mississippi Beautiful Day”state-wide. Pam lives by her original quote, “It’s not how you shine… it’s who you polish.” A strong advocate for community partnerships, she not only moves within numerous circles, she actually moves the circles, themselves. Where there are possibilities for progress, you’ll find Pam Confer. Pam holds a Master of Public Policy and Administration degree, and is currently at the dissertation stage of a Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration from Jackson State University (JSU) in Jackson, MS.