Meet the team.
Christine A. Ross joined the Maryland Chamber of Commerce as president and CEO in July 2016. Ross previously served as CEO of the Bonita Springs Area Chamber of Commerce, transforming the 1,000-member organization through difficult times and winning the coveted five-star accreditation from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for effectiveness and impact. She advocated for regulatory changes to improve the region’s competitive business climate, and worked to ensure quality workforce and education reform, progressive infrastructure planning for transportation, and technology.
Ross also led a wide range of economic development activities, such as long-range broadband planning, for a five-county area of 1.2 million residents, as well as a a statewide strategic update for the Enterprise Florida 2014-17 economic development plan.
She was voted Chamber Executive of the Year by the Florida Association of Chambers of Commerce Executives, and her Chamber was recognized as Florida’s Chamber of the Year in 2014. That same year, she earned her elite Certified Chamber Executive (C.C.E.) status.
Prior to her service at the Bonita Springs Area Chamber, Ross served in similar positions at the Falmouth, Massachusetts, and Williamstown, Massachusetts, chambers. She also worked as the program director of the Berkshire Visitors Bureau, and as marketing director at the Pittsfield Tourism Council (Massachusetts).
Ross has several Maryland connections. She earned an MBA and a master’s in marketing from the University of Maryland–University College. She earned a bachelor’s degree in music education from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia.
Ross is married and has three grown children, two of whom are in graduate school in the Washington, DC, area.
Read more about Ross.
Learn more about the Maryland Chamber’s leadership.
Lawrence A. Richardson Jr., Esq. joined the Maryland Chamber of Commerce as its vice president of government affairs in October 2016. Prior to his arrival at the Maryland Chamber, Richardson served as claim attorney/jurisdictional specialist for State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company.
Richardson brings more than two decades of experience as a government affairs representative for State Farm Insurance to the Maryland Chamber. A registered in-house lobbyist (Maryland, Baltimore City, and Washington, DC), Richardson was accountable for multiple facets of activities relating to legislative, general business and public relations issues before the Maryland General Assembly, the Council of the District of Columbia, the Baltimore City Council, their respective executive branches of government, and all relevant regulatory entities.
Prior to his position with State Farm, Richardson worked as a staff attorney with Blue Cross–Blue Shield of Maryland for 10 years, five of those years as counsel for the Office of Government Affairs. There, he provided research and legal analysis of legislation before the Maryland General Assembly; prepared and drafted legislation and amendments; presented testimony before House and Senate committees; engaged in direct interaction with members of the Maryland General Assembly, their staffs and counsel; and served in an overall support capacity to the vice-president of government affairs.
With 30+ years of experience working with government in Maryland, Baltimore and DC, Richardson brings his well-earned reputation as a respected lobbyist to the Maryland Chamber of Commerce. He uses all of that experience advocating on behalf of the Maryland business community to grow jobs and reduce regulations, working to make Maryland more competitive.
After attending Towson State University, Richardson graduated cum laude from the University of Baltimore with a B.A. in political science (government and public administration). Richardson went on to earn his law degree from the University of Baltimore.
Kevin Rudolph is proud to assist the Maryland Chamber of Commerce as the senior policy analyst on the Government Affairs team.
Rudolph’s ability to comprehend the impacts of policy on both the state and federal level as well as his expertise in labor, healthcare, transportation, taxation, education and cyber security to name a few, make him an integral part of the team. In supporting the Maryland Chamber, Rudolph sits on the Governor’s Workforce Development Board’s Cyber Security and IT Task Force and is sought as a policy expert by various state commissions and councils.
A native Californian, Rudolph got his start in politics as a field organization for a competitive congressional race in southern California. After finishing college, Rudolph moved to Chicago where he worked as an associate inspector in the City’s Inspector General’s Office, investigating allegations of fraud and official misconduct among the city’s employees and elected officials. Rudolph subsequently moved to Washington D.C. where he spent time as an aide in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Rudolph holds a master’s in public policy from the University of Chicago, with a certificate in health policy, and a Bachelor of Arts with honors in political science and religious studies from the University of California at Santa Barbara.
Outside of policy and politics, Rudolph teaches and tutors in Washington DC.
Christine M. Collins joined the Maryland Chamber of Commerce as its senior director of strategic communication in November 2016. She brought with her several years of experience managing internal and external communications, messaging and marketing for high-level academic and administrative divisions and departments at Towson University. While at TU, she led an in-house team that produced national award-winning commercials, broadcast and webcast in the Baltimore area and three of the nation’s top 10 markets (New York, Philadelphia and Washington, DC).
Prior to joining TU, Collins spent 16 years as a television news producer in Columbus, Ohio; Baltimore, Maryland; and Washington, DC, where she led Emmy-, Murrow- and RTNDA Award-winning teams’ newscasts and special reports.
Collins holds a Bachelor of Arts in broadcasting from Otterbein University and a Master of Science in communication management from Towson University. She is adjunct faculty in Towson University’s Department of Mass Communication and Communication Studies.
Laura Toraldo joined the Maryland Chamber of Commerce in the fall of 2016 as the director of marketing and communications. She comes to the Chamber from National Geographic, where she worked for nearly 10 years—most recently as their multimedia editor.
Toraldo has a plethora of global experience from her time at National Geographic. As multimedia editor, she was part photo, layout, web and text editor, rights clearance manager, social media manager and in-house graphic designer for the 38 internationally published versions of the magazine. She provided oversight and quality control for the local content in print and online. Toraldo also provided guidance and support for the international digital and social channels to improve approach, boost interest, and increase following.
During her tenure at National Geographic, Toraldo also held the positions of photographic liaison and editorial coordinator. As photographic liaison, she designed and edited layouts, revised text and maintained quality control for local material published in the local-language international versions of National Geographic. As editorial coordinator, she was the driving force behind story ideas and design of the quarterly newsletter—updating partners on events, achievements and upcoming cross-platform initiatives in the international and Washington, DC, offices.
Toraldo studied digital design at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and received her B.A. in journalism from the University of Delaware. Prior to National Geographic, Toraldo worked as a staff reporter for the Coastal Point newspaper in Ocean View, Delaware.
Whitney Harmel is a dedicated philanthropist and volunteer who joined the Maryland Chamber of Commerce in December of 2017 as the director of strategic partnerships.
Her career lends her expertise in small, large, local and international business.
As a sales executive for NAPC, Inc. she handled national business development for a marketing platform and a cybersecurity software solution. She was also integral in launching a new brand and product for NAPC.
Harmel previously served as an associate vice president of business development at Intero Advisory, business development manager at Experis IT and sales supervisor and executive at Advance Business Systems.
She earned her Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering from Virginia Tech.
“I’m excited to share the Maryland Chamber mission with both new and existing members,” Harmel said. “They are the pulse of Maryland’s business economy, and I’m ready to work with them to make Maryland stronger for everyone.”
Elizabeth Sothoron joined the Maryland Chamber of Commerce as executive administrative assistant in October 2016 and was promoted to executive office manager in October 2017. Prior to coming to the Maryland Chamber, she served as a special event, trade show and exhibit account manager for Hargrove Inc. for nearly five years. There, Sothoron was responsible for ensuring the efficient production and installation of about 60 annual events, trade shows and exhibits throughout the country. These projects included large conferences/expos, government summits and extravagant galas.
Prior to her position at Hargrove Inc., Sothoron served as head of production, personal assistant and office manager for Tara Guérard Soiree Event Planning and Design in Charleston, South Carolina for four years. There, she assisted in the coordination and creative design of corporate affairs, elegant destination weddings and fundraising galas.
Sothoron earned her Bachelor of Arts from the College of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina.
Santiago Luna comes to the Maryland Chamber after experiences like serving in the Peace Corps. The Maryland Chamber’s new member services coordinator was raised in Miami, then earned his bachelor’s degree in international relations with a focus on Middle East and Central Asia studies.
During his undergraduate career, he spent a year living and studying in Dubai to further his experience in the area. Upon graduation, Luna served in the Peace Corps Morocco as a youth asset builder, teaching Moroccan youth advanced English and beginner’s French.
Luna obtained his master’s degree in corporate communications from IE Business School in Madrid, Spain. He is fluent in English, Spanish and French.