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Our Staff

Gil Staley has been with The Woodlands Area Economic Development Partnership since 2005 and serves as Chief Executive Officer. In this position, he is responsible for recruiting new businesses to The Woodlands 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 and a 2013 Hometown Hero. He serves on numerous community boards including Montgomery County Food Bank, The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce, Conroe North Houston Regional Airport Board of Directors, 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 grown sons, Johnathan, and Joseph.

Holly Gruy has been with The Woodlands Area Economic Development Partnership since 1999 and serves as the Chief Operating Officer. In this position, she is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the organization, which includes managing the organization’s staff, budget, accounting processes and functions. She also serves as the HR administrator and oversees assigned committees in order to meet the organization’s strategic goals. 

Holly has a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice-Victim Studies from Sam Houston State University, where she maintained a 4.0 GPA in her major and graduated with Latin Honors of Cum Laude. She also has an Associate of Arts Degree from Lone Star College – Montgomery. She is a 2002 Leadership Montgomery County graduate and a 2019 graduate of the Center for Houston’s Future Business/Civic Spring Forum. Continuing her professional development, she recently attended Effective Strategy Formulation through Rice University Jones School of Business. 

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

Holly has also volunteered for many non-profit organizations in the community such as LMC’s Leadership Series, CASA Child Advocates of Montgomery County, and Interfaith of The Woodlands

Holly lives in Montgomery with her husband Ryan and their daughter Selah. When not working, she and her family are passionate about music, movies, cooking, gardening, camping, and traveling.

Mariana Almanza-Cook joined The Woodlands Area Economic Development Partnership in January 2020 as the Director of Business Retention and Expansion for the organization. In this role she 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. 

Mariana earned her Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Marketing at Texas A&M University and the University of Texas - San Antonio. She has also obtained a Multimedia Design Certification from Lone Star College. 

Since joining the EDP team she has focused on professional development designed to complement her economic development role. This includes completion of the Basic Economic Development Course program certified by the Texas Economic Development Council (TEDC) as well as the Business Retention & Expansion Course offered by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC). She is also proud to have added to her resume The Leadership Accelerator, a program offered by Rice Business Executive Education. 

Mariana also enjoys volunteering for professional leadership organizations in the community such as Education for Tomorrow's Alliance (EfTA) and is currently taking part in the Leadership Montgomery County (LMC) program as a member of the Class of 2021. 

Mariana and her husband, Nathan, live in Magnolia. In their personal time, they love to travel and enjoy exploring the great outdoors.

Ashley Byers is the Manager of Marketing & Outreach for The Woodlands Area Economic Development Partnership (EDP). She has been with the organization since 2012, initially as The Chamber’s Director of Special Events from 2012 to 2016 and in February of 2016 transferred to the EDP. She currently manages all aspects of the marketing department to include creating the company's marketing campaign on a local to international level, graphic design, ad placement, contract negotiations, website content and social media campaigns. Ashley also plans and executes quality special events and meetings for the Partners, as well as represents the EDP with various community organizations. 

Ashley is currently earning a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communications from Stephen F. Austin State University. She received an Associate of Arts from Lone Star College Montgomery, graduating with Latin Honors of Cum Laude and was the Student Commencement Speaker. She has also received certificates in Economic Development Marketing & Attraction by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) and Basic Economic Development by the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service. She is a 2015 graduate of Leadership Montgomery County. 

Ashley is a founding member of Interfaith of The Woodlands Young Professionals (IYP) and serves on the IYP Board of Directors as the Immediate Past President and is on Interfaith’s Development Committee. She is also on the Visit the Woodlands Marketing Committee and Co-Chair of PR subcommittee for Memorial Hermann’s In the Pink of Health Luncheon Committee. 

Ashley has lived in The Woodlands area since 2005. She is the proud mother of an adult daughter Kayla and is married to Ryan, both of whom are two-time IRONMAN Texas finishers and ultra-runners who have completed multiple 100-mile distance trail runs. Besides endurance sports, Ashley enjoys traveling, live music and photography.

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