29th Annual MLK Grande Parade Honoree
Amanda Edwards is a native Houstonian and a former At-Large City Council Member. Her hands-on, results-oriented servant leadership is focused on empowering residents and obtaining results. Amanda is an accomplished attorney with extensive municipal finance experience, a grassroots public servant, and an effective community advocate. Amanda is also the founder of a community non-profit that empowers various groups ranging from seniors to women.
Amanda’s father was diagnosed with cancer when she was a child. By witnessing her father’s battle with cancer (as well as her mother’s much later on), Amanda learned firsthand that public service and policy can be a matter of life or death in many households. Her appreciation that policy matters and can have substantial impacts on families has given her serious purpose in her mission to craft meaningful policy and serve communities with a sense of urgency.
Cultivating the Houston Economy & Supporting Sound Fiscal Decision-Making
As a City Council Member, Amanda has proven herself to be an effective and relentless advocate. With an eye toward the future and a vision of an economy that works for all Houstonians, she has led citywide efforts to cultivate technology, innovation, and public transit. In fact, Houston’s new Innovation District (part of the recommendations stemming from the Tech & Innovation Task Force Amanda initiated and led) is now under construction, with the first phase of it (The Ion) now complete.
Amanda has also led Houston’s efforts to reduce the disparities in accessing capital faced by women and minorities who own small businesses in Houston. Amanda now leads BEAMW (the Business Ecosystem Alliance for Minorities & Women) to provide a wide array of support, including one-on-one financial counseling services for small business owners, among other things.
Amanda’s experience as a municipal finance attorney proved invaluable during her tenure on the City Council as the city grappled with budgetary deficits and pension reform. Amanda served as the Vice Chair of the Budget & Fiscal Affairs Committee, authored numerous measures to ensure more accountability and good stewardship of the city’s limited resources, and helped lead budgetary sessions analyzing the city’s $5.1 billion budget. Amanda also served on the Economic Development Committee.
From Transportation to Communities — Experience That Counts
Amanda also served on the Transportation, Technology, and Infrastructure Committee. She initiated and led the High Capacity Transit Task Force for the eight-county region through her service on the Houston-Galveston Area Council Transportation Policy Council.
When Hurricane Harvey resulted in 51 inches of rainfall in Houston in 2017, Amanda organized hundreds of volunteers to provide ongoing relief efforts for Houston’s most vulnerable. Her work focused on hundreds of households in areas with high concentrations of low-income seniors.
Amanda graduated from Eisenhower High School in Aldine ISD. She earned a B.A. in Political Science from Emory University in 2004. While at Emory, Amanda served as a Community Building and Social Change Fellow, and she worked in six Community Development Corporations (CDCs). After graduating from Emory, she worked for Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee in Washington, D.C. Amanda went on to earn her J.D. from Harvard Law School, where she was a student attorney for the Criminal Justice Institute.
Compelled by the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Amanda relocated to New Orleans. While in New Orleans, Amanda served as a judicial law clerk for Federal District Court Judge Ivan Lemelle and founded Project NOW: The New Orleans Writing Project, which inspired New Orleans youth to empower themselves and their community through the power of writing.
Amanda returned to Houston with a broadened perspective and interest in impacting her community. Amanda practiced law for years as a municipal finance lawyer, where she solved complex issues relating to tax-exempt bond financings, public-private partnerships, and non-profit organizations. She has practiced law at both Vinson & Elkins LLP and Bracewell LLP.
Amanda resides in the core of Houston and attends St. Monica Catholic Church in Acres Homes. Amanda serves on the Advisory Council of Accelerator for America, and has served on boards ranging from the National League of Cities to Houston Exponential and Project Row Houses. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., as well as the Houston Chapter of The Links, Inc. While Amanda has received many accolades for her legal and community work, she finds empowering communities to be her greatest reward.