In June 2012, the director of Stichting Amsterdam Mamas, Emmy Coffey McCarthy was awarded Expat of the Year 2012 for her work with Amsterdam Mamas.  Read on for her story of the awards and finding her tribe.

When I came to the Netherlands I knew hardly anyone. I moved to be with my husband and by the time I got pregnant I still only knew a handful of people.

Fast forward two years and I now head up Amsterdam Mamas, one of the largest English speaking parenting communities in Amsterdam. I have a diary full of social events, even if they are mostly for my son! I’ve never been happier.

In May I became a finalist in the Expatica Expat of the Year Awards. 2012. From new arrival to Expat of the Year finalist. It hardly seems possible. The award ceremony was held at the Nyenrode Business University, located in beautiful surroundings about half an hour outside of Amsterdam. I was in illustrious company this year with so many notable expats achieving wonderful things for their communities. It was really too close a contest to call and I am proud to have stood amongst them, let alone to win. I would very much like to thank Expatica Communications, Nyenrode Business University and Undutchables for the time and effort they put in each year to recognise the work of the expat community.

As part of the process of nomination, the Expat of the Year Awards finalists were asked to make a short video about why they should be Expat of the Year. For me the subject of my video was obvious, it should be about finding your tribe, building a community and being a part of the city you live in. I remembered all too well the hours spent pushing my son around the Vondelpark on my own because my other friends at that point were still pregnant and not on maternity leave yet. Sometimes it felt so lonely.

The drive behind Amsterdam Mamas has been to build a supportive community of parents so that no one need ever feel alone in the city again. There is always someone on or offline to chat to, events to attend or posts in the Facebook group to read.

In this series of articles, I will be talking more about finding your tribe, whether you are new to the city, new to parenthood both or neither. The series will also take a look at the other organisations in Amsterdam and across the Netherlands who are helping parents, just like us, find their tribes too.

We’ll talk to parents about how they built their networks here and what advice they would give to other parents who are facing similar challenges. For now I would like to leave you with the video from the Expat of the Year Awards. I hope you enjoy it


Video produced by Luke Davies of talentinsite.comWith thanks to Luke and who gave up their spare time and resources to help us make the video.

photo credit: Expatica Communications, reproduced with thanks. From L-R: Lucie Cunningham (judge and runner up of the Expat of the Year Award 2011), Emmy Coffey McCarthy, Paul Brown (

Emmy Coffey McCarthy

Emmy McCarthy was the Director of Stichting Amsterdam Mamas. She is a Mama, Entrepreneur and Connector on a never-ending quest for balance in her life.