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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-one years 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.

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 spent the past four years with Visit The Woodlands on a mission to promote The Woodlands, Texas as a beautiful, lively, and welcoming destination recognized regionally, nationally and internationally for first-class business, convention and leisure travel. As a member of the Convention Development Team, she provided an array of services to meeting planners and helped develop convention and business travel into The Woodlands. Her favorite experiences there included attending international sales tradeshows and hosting familiarization trips for business clients.

Mariana earned her Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Marketing at Texas A&M University and the University of Texas - San Antonio. Most recently, she earned a Multimedia Design Certification from Lone Star College. Prior to joining Visit The Woodlands, Mariana worked for Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council where she was tasked with membership retention and recruitment as well as community engagement.

When she’s not in the office, Mariana is likely on a new adventure. While her favorite places to explore are Key West and Hawaii, she has also recently traveled to Mexico, England and Italy. She enjoys the outdoors, resort lazy rivers and cruising around on a bike. She also loves Netflix binging with her husband Nathan, and board games with friends. They are proud of their “local Texas roots” and have resided in Magnolia since 2011.

Ashley Byers is the Manager of Marketing & Outreach. She has been with the organization since 2012, initially as The Chamber’s Director of Special Events from 2012 to 2016 and in 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 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 President and is on the Visit the Woodlands Marketing Committee and 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 traveling, spending time with daughter Kayla and two rescue dogs Kona and Orion.

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