As President and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Chamber of Commerce, Beth Rheingold finds connecting with her community to be the most gratifying part of her job. Since 2019, she has worked to support local businesses in the Greater Baltimore area by helping them foster relationships with each other and with their customers.
Rheingold’s professional focus was not always on business. The Westminster resident previously worked as an English teacher at McDonogh School and Garrison Forest School, an adjunct professor at Stevenson University, and the Director of Undergraduate Studies at the University of Buffalo. But Rheingold says that being a teacher and working in business have more in common than one might think.
“Sometimes I felt like I missed my calling, getting into education and not business, but there’s still a lot of outreach and engagement [involved], and that’s what teachers do,” she says. “In school, you’re forming relationships with your students, with their parents, and with the whole school community, and that’s what the chamber does — we’re cultivating relationships within the business community so businesses feel supported and promoted.”
Rheingold, who is in her 40s, grew up in Morgantown, West Virginia. Her mother was a business owner who managed a main street clothing retailer. The Jewish community in Rheingold’s hometown was small, but there were opportunities for engagement: she was active in BBYO and Hillel, and says the experience led her to serve on the board of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Baltimore later in life. That in turn was a precursor to her work with CHAI Comprehensive Housing Assistance, and which then led to her role at the Chamber of Commerce.
When Rheingold moved to Owings Mills in 2003, she found herself impressed by the breadth of its Jewish community. “There’s so much choice when it comes to the Jewish community here, whereas I didn’t even have much of a choice growing up,” she says.
The 2015 protests following the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody were what led Rheingold to transition from education to nonprofit work.
“I really wanted to explore the nonprofit world because I wanted to make a difference,” Rheingold says. “Not that I wasn’t making a difference as a teacher, but I wanted to work with communities where there was more need.”
In 2016, she became the director of school and community engagement at CHAI, which supports housing assistance and community development in Northwest Baltimore. CHAI is a member of the Chamber of Commerce, and the one naturally led to the other for Rheingold.
“We really work to make sure that Pikesville and Owings Mills and Reisterstown and Northwest Baltimore are strong and vital communities where people want to live and work,” she says. “[CHAI’s] motto is ‘strong communities for life’ . . . If we don’t have strong communities, we don’t have a strong business community, and vice versa.”
The Chamber of Commerce is not a religious organization, but it still has strong ties to the Jewish community. In addition to CHAI, the JCC and Jewish Community Services are also members. Individuals from the Jewish community are also among its current and former executives and board of directors.
Rheingold and the Chamber of Commerce are continuously working to connect the Greater Baltimore area’s business community through aid and events. On Sept. 8, for instance, they plan to hold a Heads and Tails 5k in Pikesville where people can sign up to race with their dogs.
“While the pandemic may have slowed us down to some degree, our chamber is still on the move,” she says. “The community is going to see some great things coming from us.”