Baltimore County Leader Insight: Rhonda Pringle

Baltimore County Leader Insight. Rhonda Pringle. Market President & Publisher, Baltimore Business Journal.

A Special Interview: May 2023


What do you feel is the greatest challenge in Baltimore County and how does it impact you and your work?

Baltimore County has a diverse community, great universities, healthcare and great amenities. There is so much potential to build upon, but the county will need to address infrastructure issues, such as transportation, school overcrowding and sewage to continue to attract businesses and residents and ensure economic growth. As publisher of the Baltimore Business Journal, it certainly plays a role in our coverage of Greater Baltimore. For the region to thrive, Baltimore County must thrive. We need a resilient region to continue to attract business and talent.

What do you see as LBC’s greatest strength as developed over its 40-year history?

LBC’s greatest strength is helping leaders connect the dots as it relates to the needs in Baltimore County and our role in advocating for and working towards creating more equitable, sustainable, and inclusive communities. We don’t know what we don’t know, and I now understand not only the ways in which I can make a positive impact but where my help is most needed.

How does your work as a civic leader impact your work at the BBJ?

I’m closer to the issues impacting our small business community. I use what I’m hearing and seeing to inform us on the issues impacting small businesses. I also think that my work as a civic leader has helped me to develop a great deal of empathy for the unique challenges faced by marginalized communities, which makes me a better advocate for our coverage of women and minority-led businesses and nonprofits.

How did the LBC experience shape you?

There were two experiences during my class time with LBC that had a significant impact on my worldview. First, was a presentation by United Way of Central Maryland. I wasn’t familiar with the term “ALICE families.” That you can have two people in the household employed full-time and still struggling to make ends meet really hit home the importance of a living wage – and even a $15/hr minimum wage doesn’t cut it. Second, was the day spent with the Baltimore County Police Department. As a Black woman, I struggled with some of the outcomes of the training exercises, but I also gained a greater level of understanding and empathy for how incredibly difficult the job of a police officer is.

What life experience has most shaped who you are as a leader?

As a college student I had an opportunity to volunteer to tutor at a children’s home. It was challenging because these kids were dealing with issues of poverty, feeling abandoned, stigmatized. I spent a lot of time just listening and trying to find ways to help them better cope. That needed to be done before we could begin to dig into a school assignment. It’s a reminder to me every day that I’m leading individuals, not just teams; some that have challenges that I may not be privy to. I have to make space for that so that I’m a better listener but also a better support system when needed.

In your opinion, what personal trait is most important to being a good leader and why?

I think one of the greatest traits missing from leadership is empathy. I know it keeps coming up, but when I hear about the companies with great cultures, it always boils down to whether employees believe that the leadership genuinely cares about them.
It brings to mind one of my favorite quotes from Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.