After more than 20 years in public relations, Amy Burke Friedman is taking the reins at Profiles—a firm manning marketing, communications, public relations and social media for some of the biggest names in the region, including the Erin Levitas Foundation and Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore.
She assumed the role of CEO in January, following a steady climb since 2003. She was a key hire for another Amy, who founded the company in 1990 with a sole client—W. B. Doner and Company.
“When I took the job at Profiles, Amy Elias was talking about how she was really looking for someone to come in, and the future of the agency,” Burke Friedman says. “I was 22. I just really wasn’t thinking that far ahead. I never set out with that kind of ambition—to run an agency or own a business.”
But she soon rose in the ranks, from junior account executive to president in 2015, on the firm’s 25th anniversary. And she has made several watchlists for professionals under 30 or 40 along the way, including “Leading Women” in The Daily Record.
Like herself, Elias says Burke Friedman is committed to always finding a solution for the client to win in the marketplace. Elias notes in a news release, “I have never worked with anyone as determined to do that as Amy Burke Friedman.”
In her early years, however, Burke Friedman had to build up to that confidence.
“Imposter syndrome is a real thing, and when I was a young employee at Profiles, there were a lot of things I just didn’t know. I see that in my young employees too,” she says. “I do occasionally feel like I’m still learning, and I have to remind myself that that’s OK. I’m open to learning, experiencing new things, taking on challenges and learning by doing.”
Since then, she has achieved a lot for the firm, including spearheading its business development program and supporting its strategic direction. Another important milestone in Burke Friedman’s ascent was helping to launch the social media division and the internship program at Profiles.
“We’re really proud to see where our former interns have gone,” she says. “Working for big businesses, big agencies, even local companies like Visit Baltimore. We’re excited to have played a part in that.”
Burke Friedman is also proud of how she has been able to foster healthy work-life balance and mental health. One way she did that was via a workplace outing initiative.
“We implemented something called Profiles Fun. It’s really about the culture at Profiles and putting an emphasis on that. Tours of the BMA, lunch, sending care packages during COVID, showing the team that it’s more than hard work, it’s about enjoying the work too. It’s about enjoying what we do every day,” she says.
Burke Friedman says the idea came from a discussion with team members and her own desire to take a breather and show appreciation to the team.
Another small way she has found to care for her mental health and others is through a program called Profiles Perks—with half-day Fridays in the summer, mental health days and paid birthdays off.
“[It’s] about establishing an inviting space where people realize there’s an importance on work-life balance,” she explains. “It allows you the opportunity to learn through lived experiences. It allows you to actually get out and be part of the audience that you’re talking to.”
Burke Friedman credits Elias with a lot of her motivation and drive.
“When we were such a small company, I was really able to see how someone runs a business, runs accounts, talks to clients, secures new business and handles challenges. I had a front row seat and that was an incredible opportunity for me,” Burke Friedman says. “When I started, there were only three of us. The number of clients and team members have all increased, and I’m really proud to have been a part of it.”