Signe Pringle will oversee business development and Tom Riford will lead tourism, marketing and communications
BALTIMORE, MD (March 29, 2019) – Maryland Department of Commerce Secretary Kelly M. Schulz has named two assistant secretaries who will play key roles in attracting, retaining, and growing businesses in the state and promoting Maryland as a great place to visit and do business. Signe Pringle, who joined Maryland Commerce in 2005 and has served as managing director of the International Trade and Investment office for the past 10 years, will lead the department’s business development efforts and drive Maryland’s growth in strategic industries like life sciences and cybersecurity. Tom Riford, who has an extensive background in the tourism and film industries, as well as marketing and public relations, will oversee the state’s tourism, film and arts offices, as well as Commerce’s marketing and communications. Both will begin their new roles on April 3.
“Both Signe and Tom bring a wealth of experience to these critical positions at Maryland Commerce, and I am confident they will be tremendous assets as we continue to grow our state’s economy, create jobs, and help our businesses and workers connect with new opportunities,” said Secretary Schulz.
A Carroll County resident, Ms. Pringle has more than 17 years of progressive experience in international business development and management in private and public sectors. In her time at Commerce, Ms. Pringle has grown the state’s global footprint to 16 foreign offices, worked to attract dozens of international companies to the state, and helped Maryland businesses boost exports and market their products and services to overseas customers. She has also coordinated a number of foreign trade missions for Governor Larry Hogan, and has led numerous delegations of Maryland businesses to international trade shows. Ms. Pringle previously served as Commerce’s regional manager for the Europe office.
Prior to joining state government, Ms. Pringle worked as a global supply chain manager for an international marketing and distribution company in Estonia. Ms. Pringle has a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Baltimore, and a bachelor’s degree in international business, banking and accounting from the Estonian Business School. She currently serves as president of State International Development Organizations (SIDO), the leading U.S. organization dedicated to supporting state international trade agencies, and serves on the boards of the DC/MD District Export Council, Governor’s Subcabinet on International Affairs, and the Center for Global Business (CBR) at the Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland. She is also a graduate of Leadership Maryland in 2017.
In his new role, Mr. Riford will manage the Maryland Office of Tourism, the Maryland Film Office, and the Maryland State Arts Council, as well as oversee Commerce’s marketing and communications efforts.
Mr. Riford was most recently the executive director of the Thomas Kennedy Center Inc., which is dedicated to celebrating the life and legacy of Washington County’s famed state legislator Thomas Kennedy. He served for more than a decade as the president and CEO of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, where he was successful in significantly driving up visitor spending and visitation, and is the former vice president of Homewood Retirement Centers. He also served as marketing director for several years with the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission.
Active in the Western Maryland community, Mr. Riford serves on numerous boards, including the Maryland Film Industry Coalition, the Maryland Humanities Council, and the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area. He is immediate past president of the board of the Discovery Station Museum in Hagerstown, and serves as the president of the Maryland International Film Festival in Hagerstown. He has also served on the board of the Maryland Tourism Council, and was past president of the Maryland Association of Destination Marketing Organizations. Mr. Riford is an award-winning public relations and marketing professional, as well as a reporter and anchor, and has reported the news for decades in Hagerstown on WJEJ and other radio stations. He has a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and is a decorated Marine Corps veteran.