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Our Staff

Gil Staley has been with The Woodlands Area Economic Development Partnership for over twelve years and serves as Chief Executive Officer. In this position, he is responsible for recruiting new businesses to the South Montgomery County area as well as directing the business retention and expansion program. Gil also oversees the operational aspects of the EDP while maintaining the financial integrity of the organization.

Prior to joining the EDP, he was the District Sales Manager in Houston for Delta Air Lines.  In this role, he was responsible for marketing, corporate sales and community affairs for Central & South Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.  Gil was with Delta for over 26 years.

Gil is a 2009 Center for Houston's Future Business/Civic Leadership Forum graduate, as well as a 2006 Leadership Montgomery County graduate.  He serves on numerous community boards including Montgomery County Food Bank, The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce, Small Business Development Center, Gulf Coast Economic Development District and Gulf Coast Workforce Board. Gil is a member of the Texas Economic Development Council, the International Economic Development Council and Commercial Real Estate Association of Montgomery County. 

Gil is a graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University with a B.B.A. degree in Business Management.

Gil and his wife, Debra, live in The Woodlands. He and Debra are proud parents to twin boys, Johnathan and Joseph, who recently graduated from The University of Oklahoma.

Holly Gruy has been with The Woodlands Area Economic Development Partnership for nineteen years and serves as Vice President of Operations. In this position, she is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the organization. In addition, she manages the organization’s budget, accounting processes and functions, serves as the HR administrator, and oversees assigned committees and events in order to meet the organization’s strategic goals.

Holly received her Associate of Arts Degree from Lone Star College – Montgomery in 2007 and is currently pursuing her Bachelor’s degree at Sam Houston State University. She is also a 2002 Leadership Montgomery County graduate.

Holly is a member of the Executive Women’s Alliance, Greater Houston Women’s Chamber of Commerce, and the Leadership Montgomery County Alumni Association. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Panther Creek Inspiration Ranch, and has previously served as a board member for the Executive Women’s Alliance (EWA), Montgomery County Society for Human Resource Management (MC-SHRM), Leadership Montgomery County Alumni Association, and the Montgomery County Humane Society.

Holly has volunteered for many non-profit organizations such as Children’s Safe Harbor, Executive Women’s Alliance - Women of Vision, March of Dimes, Panther Creek Inspiration Ranch, and Dachshund Rescue of Houston.

Holly lives in Montgomery with her husband Ryan and their daughter Selah.


Laura Lea Palmer was brought on board in January of 2011 to serve in the role of Vice President of Business Retention and Expansion.  In this role Laura Lea is responsible for maintaining existing relationships with businesses in the community, as well as assisting them with their employee recruitment, and development, expansion of space as needed, and providing demographic/labor market profiles when appropriate.

She graduated from The University of Mississippi with a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology.

Laura Lea has completed the Basic Economic Development training course through Texas Economic Development Council. She has also obtained her Business Retention and Expansion Coordinator certification through the Community Development Institute.

Laura Lea currently serves on the Board of Education for Tomorrow Alliance (EfTA) and the marketing committee.  She has served in many roles including President for the Executive Women’s Alliance (EWA). She is an active member of the Commercial Real Estate Association of Montgomery County (CREAM), and Leadership Montgomery County Alumni Association (class of 2012). She serves on many committees throughout the community including the planning committee for the Lone Star College Women’s conference (2012, 2013, 2014), multiple Montgomery County United Way committees, and EWA’s Women of Vision program.  She has served in the past on many other volunteer boards and committees including Interfaith’s Five Who Share Luncheon and the Business Retention and Expansion committees at the Greater Houston Partnership.

Laura Lea and her husband Anthony live in The Woodlands and are the proud parents of their daughters Grayson and Emerson.

Ashley Byers joined The Woodlands Area Economic Development Partnership in February 2016 as the Administrative & Communications Coordinator. In this role Ashley provides executive support to Gil Staley, CEO assisting with various projects, as well as creating and implementing the company’s branding mission.

Previously, Ashley worked at The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce as the Director of Special Events organizing a majority of the large scale annual events hosted by The Chamber. Her strengths in project management included controlling event budgets, contract negotiations, and leading over 80 volunteers throughout the year among numerous teams.

Ashley has lived in The Woodlands area since 2005 and has enjoyed volunteering her time to support various local non-profits to include Memorial Hermann The Woodlands In The Pink of Health, Alzheimer’s Association, American Cancer Society, and March of Dimes March for Babies. In 2002, she was recognized by the American Red Cross for volunteering over 866 hours at the U.S. Army 222nd Base Support Battalion Dental Clinic located in Baumholder, Germany.

Ashley is a graduate of Leadership Montgomery County class of 2015 and looks forward to continuing her education to obtain her degree in Business Administration.

Ashley is married to Ryan, a multiple IRONMAN finisher and followed in his footsteps by completing IRONMAN Texas in May 2016. Besides competing in marathons and triathlons, they enjoy spending time with daughter Kayla and their two rescue dogs Kona and Orion.

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