We ordered our drinks at the bar — decaf soy latte for me, hot cocoa for her –and walked around the corner to grab a seat. We both placed our purses on the ground, immediately grabbed our smart phones, and sat them on the table — squarely next to the space our mugs would occupy once the barista brought them. Like silverware. The multitasking working-mom-meets-for-coffee tablescape. 

Our drinks arrive. I pick up my phone and she removes hers and places it in her lap. I snap a few photos and she obliges my 20 second distraction as I Instagram a shot. While I’m busy cropping, she scrolls through a few messages and types a quick response to someone. When I finish, we both both return our phones to their spots on the table. Ringers off, but in view.

A few minutes into our chat, her phone vibrates. She quickly glances at it and I can see the right corner of her mouth tighten.

It’s preschool. 

Apologizing — although there’s no need to — she takes the call.

“The cough is worse? Ok, we’ll come get her.”

Although she’s still answering my questions, you can see she’s distracted, going through the mental logistics of reorganzing her day to incorporate an unplanned sick child pick-up (and potential doctor visit). She calls her husband — who works from home — but he’s on a conference call. Maybe the nanny who is with her son could do it? Texts her husband. Ok. He’ll pick her up when he’s done his call. No, she doesn’t need to leave and reschedule the rest of our chat. Her daughter is being cared for and he’s wrapping up the call any minute. 

I ask her the elusive balance question, even though we all know that balance is a misnomer. It’s more like surfing, right? How do you do it all? Work? Mom? Life?

“My phone. I can manage it all because of my phone.”

Amy Burke Friedman doesn’t drink coffee. But homemade marshmallow in her hot cocoa? “Of course!”

A self-proclaimed city girl, Amy grew up in Mt. Washington, went to Western and didn’t go too far for college — she was a journalism major in College Park. “I became Miss College Park. Greek life, welcome week, SGA, I did them all.”

After interning for Baltimore Magazine, she discovered she didn’t really like writing (a tough realization for a journalism major). But she still loved the media. She applied for jobs in college admissions offices (fitting given her own collegiate experience) and as a PR associate for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

Guess who called first?

That was just the beginning of the career for one of Baltimore’s top PR women. After a year at the Orchestra, Amy made the jump to Profiles, Inc., a public relations agency. 11 years later, she’s now a Vice President.

If you took a stroll around the Inner Harbor with Amy, you’d learn all sorts of things about the businesses. She’s worked with most of them in some way or form in the last decade. The National Aquarium, Waterfront Partnership, Rusty Scupper, J. Pauls… you name them and chances are she’s helped shape their story.

Her favorite projects though are the ones that have heart. She lit up talking about this year’s Baltimore Child Abuse Center’s Be a Hero Gala at Power Plant Live.

“It seems so long to think about 11 years, but it’s crazy how short it really is,” said Amy. “In that time, I’ve gotten married, bought two houses, moved, had two kids… crazy!”

{Profiles had never had an employee need maternity leave, so Amy helped create a policy. That’s the kind of transparent working environment they foster and one of the reasons she loves it there.}

coffee with amy burke friedman - (cool) progeny #coolprogeny #coffeewith

Amy developed her PR career during an era of rapid-changing technology. Jokingly, she mentions that she can tell “walked to school barefoot in the snow” kind of stories with her relatively young team — you know, back in the day when she had to carry fax numbers for news stations in her wallet. Because email wasn’t really a mainstream thing yet. {Say, what?!?}

Facebook? Instagram? Twitter? That was something she learned on the job. Now she says she really can’t watch a tv show without checking her phone; she just loves keeping up with everyone, professionally and personally.

Her days are busy, but there is a familiar rhythm to them that keeps her dancing. Waking up at 6 (if the one-year-old hasn’t gotten her up sooner), getting two kids out the front door of their Towson home, checking in at the office, client meetings, picking kids up, dinner, bedtime, catching up on a show (while checking email or Facebook or Twitter). Usually in bed by 9:30. Not before one last email check.

Amy says her life works because her husband, Ian, is a real partner in the whole parenting adventure. Weekends they are a family unit, which usually means all four of them trek to Target, Wegmans, birthday parties, playground, etc. She and Ian also share all parenting responsibilities, including cooking — which has been new territory for them.

“Before kids, Ian and I were THE restaurant couple,” said Amy. Now the only restaurant they really frequent with kids is Nautilus Diner — their former glass encased smoking room is great for corralling kids. Although the kids had turkey meatballs and leftover roasted veggies for dinner the night before, Amy mentioned her dinner may have been Brookside Chocolates. Sometimes that happens  {I love that she freely admits this — and equally loved that they were the blueberry ones, because they’re my fav, too…}

Her genius-why-didn’t-I-think-of-that tip for maximizing date night? Instead of making a dinner reservation for 7:30, make it for 5:30 or 6 PM. Why pay a babysitter to watch the kids while they are sleeping? Let them do the hard stuff like dinner and bedtime. The restaurants aren’t crowded and you’ll still see people you know as you’re leaving (and they’re coming in for their reservation). Home by 8:30. Relax. No more scrambling out the door with half your make-up on because you’re going to be late and your little one wouldn’t eat their mac and cheese. Sweet!

“Did you know Petite Louis does pick-up?” asked Amy.  “Steak Frite. Tastes just as good on your couch!”


Coffee With is a new series on (cool) progeny that highlights moms in Baltimore doing (cool) things. Know a mom we should have coffee with? Email Heather at heather AT coolprogeny.com.