Meet the team.
Christine A. Ross joined the Maryland Chamber of Commerce as president and CEO in July 2016. Ross has been in the Chamber industry and practicing economic development since 1999. She sits on the Maryland Cyber Security Council, the Maryland Manufacturing Advisory Board, and the Maryland Comptroller’s Business Advisory Council. She is actively involved in broad-ranging legislative advocacy focused on regulatory reform, improving the state’s competitive business climate, ensuring a quality workforce and developing an adequate talent pipeline to support the state’s growth.
Ross 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 and earned the coveted Certified Chamber Executive (C.C.E.) status in 2014 from the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives.
In 2017, she was awarded the Distinguished Alumna Award from the University of Maryland–University College, was selected for the coveted CCC100 an elite group of chamber executives that represents the perspectives and needs of chambers and their members to the U.S. Chamber and was one of the Maryland’s Most Admired CEOs presented by the Daily Record. Ross has three adult sons, a husband that teaches high school chemistry and a wonderful Irish Red and White Setter named Astor.
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.
Sam Schlaich joined the Maryland Chamber of Commerce as a Policy Analyst in February 2019.
Before joining the team at the Maryland Chamber, Schlaich worked in the Maryland General Assembly for both the former Chair of the House Appropriations Committee and the former Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee. Schlaich spent five years developing his legislative expertise in Annapolis before pursuing a law degree. While in law school, Schlaich worked for the Bronfein Family Law Clinic where he represented low-income clients in child custody, domestic violence, and divorce disputes.
Schlaich is a graduate of Salisbury University. He has a B.A. in political science as well as a J.D. from the University of Baltimore School of Law.
While he was born in California, he is the son of a Naval Academy grad and has always considered Annapolis to be his hometown. Schlaich is eager and excited to work on pro-business initiatives that will continue to foster strong economic growth for the State of Maryland.
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.”
Brenda Mattingly joined the Maryland Chamber of Commerce as a member experience associate in January 2019. She retired from Johnson & Johnson (J&J) after a diverse 23 year career in customer relationship management (CRM), software quality engineering and biotechnology pharmaceutical sales. She was a leader in the design and launch of J&J’s first CRM system for their pharmaceutical sales force. Prior to her J&J career, Mattingly was a computer programmer for Navy Defense Contractors in Patuxent River, Maryland.
Mattingly completed her undergraduate degree in computer science from Towson State University and her masters in systems management from the Florida Institute of Technology.
Born and raised in Leonardtown, Maryland, Mattingly is excited about the opportunity to support members and initiatives to better Maryland and enhance people’s desire to stay in Maryland after retirement. She resides downtown Annapolis and enjoys walking to work.
Nicole Seay joined the Maryland Chamber of Commerce as the member services coordinator in March 2019.
Seay comes to the Maryland Chamber from PEAK Grantmaking, a nonprofit organization where she worked for over three years. In her role as member services coordinator, she was the key link to members, educating them as needed to ensure their success with the organization offerings. Seay managed over 350 organizations and more than 2,000 individual members. She played a vital role in, not only membership, but assisting the education, events, regional chapter and communication teams. Prior to being in the nonprofit arena for over seven years, she was a licensed insurance agent.
Seay said, “I am inspired by the Maryland Chamber’s stance on advocacy for small business and the community.”
Born and raised in Flint, Michigan, Seay went on to earn her bachelor of science in human services and management from the University of Phoenix.
Laura Toraldo joined the Maryland Chamber of Commerce in the fall of 2016 as the director of marketing and communications. She was promoted to senior director of marketing and communications in the spring of 2018. She comes to the Maryland 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.
Marie Rau joined the Maryland Chamber of Commerce as the special events manager in April 2018. She comes to the Maryland Chamber from Merkle, a performance marketing agency, where she was for over six years. In her role as event marketing manager at Merkle, Rau was part of an award-winning corporate events team, managing and supporting over 150 events annually consisting of award ceremonies, executive summits, tradeshows, industry exchanges, networking workshops, executive meetings, and webinars.
Prior to her time with Merkle, Rau worked for Johnson Controls and Arbitron.
Born and raised in Maryland, Rau is inspired by the Maryland Chamber’s mission to grow jobs and make Maryland more nationally competitive.
“I am excited to be a part of the MD Chamber team and look forward to the opportunity to connect and inform members through our events program,” Rau said.
She earned her bachelor of science in business administration with a concentration in marketing from Frostburg State University in Frostburg, Maryland.
Chloe Mazzone joins the Maryland Chamber directly from graduate school at the University of Maryland, College Park where she obtained her master of public policy with a concentration in international development policy. She first joined the Maryland Chamber in June 2017 as the legislative intern on the government affairs team for the summer.
Throughout schooling over the past two years, she has held a number of internships in international development, supporting economic empowerment and business development endeavors. She has interned in policy oriented positions analyzing legislation and performing research for new business opportunities.
Before returning to school, she worked on the development team at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, planning events for the board of visitors and supporting day to day development operations. She also lived in Los Angeles, California for a year, working in marketing and communications.
As a native of Maryland, she is excited to be back at the Chamber to help job growth and increase member involvement in the business environment and policymaking in her home state.
Mazzone earned her Bachelor of Arts in international relations from Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York, with concentrations in Europe and international law and organization, and a minor in marketing.
Laura Gordon joined the Maryland Chamber of Commerce as its administrative assistant In January of 2018. In October 2018, she was promoted to office manager. Prior to coming to the Maryland Chamber she worked in the insurance, staffing and manufacturing industries.
Additionally, she is a United States Navy Veteran having served aboard the USS Jason (AR-8). As a surface warfare officer, she made several deployments including during the Gulf War in support of Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm.
She is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy and has a bachelor’s of science degree in political science.
Gordon also serves as an executive board member of the Maryland Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and co-chair of Annapolis Great Strides Walk.