Cast Spotlight: Erika Frike

by stephaniejankowski on May 1, 2015

She says it best: “I’m a person of big gestures and smiles that show my back teeth,” and we couldn’t agree more. Erika Frike is this beacon of light that draws you to her like a boat lost at sea. She is eloquent with a side of funky, and spends her life serving others, and we’re not just referring to her adorable children.Erika_LTYM

For the past five years, as chief of staff to State Representative Dan Frankel, she promoted policies supporting reproductive healthcare access for women and greater transparency in healthcare contracting. Additionally, Erika has been involved in connecting Allegheny County residents to health insurance post the rollout of the Affordable Care Act.

Before joining the government and advocacy world, she reported on it. Erika wrote for various newspapers, including the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pitt Magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Toledo Blade. Her work has also been reprinted in the textbook Mirror on America: Essays and Images from Popular Culture.

Erika holds a Bachelor of Arts from Yale University, and a Masters in Journalism from the University of California, Berkeley. Recently, she was named an American Council of Young Political Leaders Fellow. As a fellow, she visited Russia and spent two weeks meeting cabinet level ministers, political leaders and others during one of the tensest periods in U.S. Russia relations since the cold war. She has latent fluency in Spanish and Salsa dancing.


Q: Who IS Erika?

A: I find this stuff hard because in the true spirit of showing, not telling, pretty sure I can communicate best who I am in person. Probably too loudly, and maybe with an ill-timed, off-color joke. But I will make you a latte, or offer you a very good beer, and I am convinced that these beverages basically will balance out all of the negatives. 🙂

Q: What is one of your favorite things you’ve ever written? (provide a link if applicable)

A: Most of my writing for publication is about policies affecting our community – one of the things I love is helping others communicate why these issues – which sound so distant – are critical for families. I worked with the amazing Elly Fisher, who was willing to share her story about why the Children’s Health Insurance Program is so critical. This made me happy. Also she is beautiful and her children are rad. You can read the piece HERE.

Q: What are the rules you live by?

A: Before I had my first child, I was really into the idea that he was going to grow up and not be trapped in the ridiculous binaries that humans fall into that simplify our world sometimes in a way that’s either untrue, or just plain old not helpful. You know – hero/villain, black hat/white hat, virgin/ whore (that’s right, I said it, on a mom blog.) I was even cautious about inside/outside (after all, let’s get deep, what IS “outside”), nature/civilization… I could go on, and on, and yawningly on. (blah blah blah.) Suffice it to say, that 8 months rolled along and I discovered the deepest, truest, most fundamental binary that I wanted to paint it on every object in the house. You guessed it:

Toy/ Not Toy.

That binary continues to rule my existence. I actually find it pretty helpful for organizing my own life, too.

Also “Coffee before babies.” My children learned to say this very early.

Q: Are you a Chaos Muppet or Order Muppet?

A: Chaos Muppet. No doubt about it. In fact, I like to think of myself as Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, who Dahlia Lithwick said (paraphrased) “sows chaos throughout the land, but in an effort to better organize the world.” But my husband said, “No way, Miss Piggy.” So there’s that.

Erika dazzles in person, on page, and on stage. Come check out her back teeth and mad writing chops on May 8!

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