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Our Staff

Gil Staley has been with The Woodlands Area Economic Development Partnership for over fourteen 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 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 boys, Johnathan and Joseph, who recently graduated from The University of Oklahoma.

Holly Gruy has been with The Woodlands Area Economic Development Partnership for the past twenty years and serves as the Chief Operating Officer. 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 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 continues to develop her leadership skills by attending conferences such as Disney’s Approach to Leadership Excellence from Disney Institute and Essentials of Leadership, a two-day class facilitated by Rice University Business School. Holly is a recent graduate of the Center for Houston’s Future Business/Civic Forum Spring 2019 Class, which is a leadership program for the Houston Region.

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 as a board member for Panther Creek Inspiration Ranch, 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 LMC’s Leadership Series, LMC Alumni Leadership Council, CASA Child Advocates of Montgomery County, Children’s Safe Harbor, Interfaith of The Woodlands, IRONMAN North American Championship, 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. When not working, she and her family enjoy gardening, camping, hiking, and traveling.


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.

In 2018 Laura Lea became one of only a few Certified Economic Developers (CEcD) in our region. As a path to certification she graduated from University of Oklahoma’s Economic Development Institute in 2018.  Laura Lea also received designation as Business Retention and Expansion project coordinator through the Business Retention and Expansion International organization. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from The University of Mississippi.

Laura Lea currently serves on the Board of Education for Tomorrow Alliance (EfTA), and their development and marketing committees.  Laura Lea is the Co-Team leader for The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce Transportation Education Council. 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 United Way’s Women Who Rock Luncheon and multiple other committees. Laura Lea is also a past President of the Executive Women’s Alliance (EWA).

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

Ashley Byers is the Manager of Marketing & Outreach and has been with the organization since 2012. 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 for the Partners, as well as provides executive support to the CEO, Gil Staley, with various high-profile projects.

She has 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. Ashley is also a 2015 graduate of Leadership Montgomery County. Currently Ashley is earning her Associate of Arts degree from Lone Star College - Montgomery.

Ashley serves on the Board of Directors for Interfaith of The Woodlands Young Professionals as the Board Secretary and is on the PR/Marketing subcommittee for Memorial Hermann’s In the Pink of Health. She is also an advocate for The Woodlands Chapter of Ainsley’s Angels, which is a national non-profit organization that aims to build awareness about the special needs community and gives individuals an opportunity to experience endurance sports.

Ashley has lived in The Woodlands area since 2005 and is married to Ryan, both of whom are two-time IRONMAN Texas Finishers and ultra-runners who have completed 100-mile distance trail runs. When they are not competing in endurance sports, they enjoy spending time with daughter Kayla and two rescue dogs Kona and Orion.

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