Leadership team

Our senior team sets the tone for our work in economic development, advocacy, education & talent, and innovation & international partnerships.

  • Laura Huffman

    Laura Huffman is President and CEO of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, a nonprofit membership organization that facilitates the creation of a prosperous regional economy and advocates on behalf of its members and the broader business community.

    Laura is dedicated to solving complex problems with a spirit of collaboration, innovation and creativity.

    Prior to joining the Chamber, Laura served as Texas state director for The Nature Conservancy. During her twelve-year tenure at the Conservancy, Laura worked closely with Texas legislators to draft policy with far-reaching ramifications for statewide water conservation and spearheaded the expansion of water protection funds across Central Texas.

    Laura’s distinguished public service record also includes 15+ years in city management for the City of Austin and City of San Marcos, where she helped safeguard water supply, strengthen the economy and protect natural assets.

    She earned a master’s degree in public affairs from The University of Texas at Austin and a Bachelor of Science in political science from Texas A&M University. An Austin native, she enjoys running, swimming and hiking with her husband and four children.

  • Susan Nold

    Susan Turner Nold serves as Senior Vice President of Policy & External Affairs for the Austin Chamber.  From 2015-2021, Susan served as Director of the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life at the University of Texas at Austin and as a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Communication Studies in the Moody College of Communication.

    Prior to working at UT, Susan was a Legislative Aide and General Counsel to Texas Senator Kirk Watson and a Staff Attorney for the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission.  Susan holds a bachelor's degree in Political Science from Southern Methodist University and a law degree from the University of Texas School of Law.  Susan is married to Danny Nold and they have two children, Ginger and Danny Jr.

  • Leslie Gruver

    Leslie Gruver currently serves as the Chief Financial Officer for the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, a nonprofit membership organization. She has been with the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce since 2016.

    Prior to joining the Austin Chamber, Leslie served as Chief Financial Officer for MapMyFitness Inc., a leader in the connected fitness industry, which was acquired by Under Armour. Leslie has held a variety of financial leadership roles with several software and technology companies including Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC), BMC Software, AlterPoint, Inc., and Moxie Software.

    Leslie earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Texas A&M University. She has two sons and lives in Austin where she enjoys gardening, cooking, and spending time with her friends, family, and her miniature schnauzer.

  • Bethany Leffingwell

    Bethany joined the Chamber staff in 2021 and serves as Senior Vice President of Strategic Communications & Programming. She spearheads marketing and strategic communications to enhance organizational brand value and reputation and is responsible for elevating the customer experience through exceptional programming. Bethany leads the Chamber’s event production team, the PR/marketing/communications team, and the Austin Gives program which encourages social impact through corporate philanthropy.

    Prior to joining the Chamber team, Bethany served in executive leadership roles for several not-for-profit organizations including Director of Major Gifts for Ascension Seton. She has also applied her talents in communications, strategy, relationship management, and business development in the legal industry and local politics. A purpose-driven leader with over 25 years of experience leading teams and solving problems, Bethany is an effective community builder with a passion for structuring and leveraging effective partnerships for positive social impact.

    Bethany earned a BA in Communications from Southwestern University and a Master’s in Public Service & Administration from Texas A&M University. She and her husband, Frank, have two adult children, Blake and Claire. Bethany enjoys traveling, the arts, attending Aggie football games, and Austin’s exceptional foodie scene.

  • Roland Peña

    Roland Peña is the SVP of Global Technology and Innovation with the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce and Opportunity Austin – a five-county regional economic development initiative. His responsibilities include strategic outreach and program development of international and domestic initiatives and collaborations, that support the continued growth and success of innovation in the Austin Region.

    Most recently, Roland served as the Vice President of Economic Development leading recruitment efforts for high-value prospects in specific industry sectors that include defense/space innovation, software/IT, financial services, corporate headquarters, and international development. Roland’s 30+ year track in economic development is replete with success and the development of ongoing project pipelines that have achieved YOY growth. Roland has led relationship development initiatives and successfully guided businesses through the design and launch of new products, services, and investment opportunities. Demonstrating his ability to not only build winning project roadmaps but develop high-performance teams.

    Roland holds a Bachelor of Business Administration Degree in Management and a Master of Business Administration Degree in International Trade, both from Sul Ross State University.

  • Colleen Pate

    Colleen Pate currently serves as the Chief of Staff for the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce. Here she leads the operations team and serves as the staff liaison with the Chamber Board of Directors. Colleen is a skilled project manager providing strategic support to the President and CEO. Colleen has been with the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce since 2020. Prior to joining the Austin Chamber, she served as Director of Development Operations with The Nature Conservancy.

    Colleen attended the University of Georgia where she studied Political Science and Mass Communication.

    Colleen and her husband Brad live in Austin, Texas with their two children and their Australian Labradoodle. Colleen enjoys long walks, reading, podcasts and traveling.

  • Charisse Bodisch

    As a 30+ year veteran in economic development, Charisse has worked in every aspect of the industry. As the SVP of Economic Development with the Austin Chamber and through the regional economic development initiative Opportunity Austin, she leads the team dedicated to the recruitment of new corporate citizens and the expansion of the local industry base for the five-county Greater Austin, Texas Region. Since Opportunity Austin’s formation in 2004, the organization has contributed to the overall prosperity of the Austin Region that has benefited from 777 corporate relocations, about 1,370 expansion announcements, and over 549,500 new direct/indirect jobs created.

    Prior to coming to the Austin Chamber in 2006, she served as CEO/Executive Director of the Allen, TX Economic Development Corporation (AEDC). Under her leadership, the AEDC owned and developed industrial and office parks and facilitated new development projects including industrial, office, urban retail mixed-use and specialty facilities.

    Charisse and her husband Robert are active in a variety of other organizations and enjoy traveling in their spare time. Charisse treasures time spent with her seven grandchildren and is most proud of the accomplishments of her four stepsons.

  • Jeremy Martin

    Jeremy Martin serves as Senior Advisor to the Austin Chamber of Commerce. He has represented Central Texas businesses at all levels of government from the White House Business Council to local community groups with one purpose in mind: strengthening the Central Texas regional economy to create job opportunities across the economic spectrum.

     Prior to his current role, Jeremy served as Senior Vice President at the Chamber for thirteen years. As Senior Vice President of Strategy, he was involved in strategic planning efforts at the Chamber such as the regional Opportunity Austin initiative and the Chamber's annual InterCity Visit.

     As Senior Vice President of Government Relations, Jeremy oversaw advocacy efforts at the Chamber focusing on priorities such as economic development policy, transportation, infrastructure, education/workforce development, and regulatory climate.  Whether it appeared on the ballot or a city council agenda, he knew how policy items affected Chamber members.

     Jeremy serves on the Board of Directors of the Austin Economic Development Corporation and is a member of the strategic planning committee. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Community Advancement Network having been Board Chair in 2016.

     Jeremy earned a Bachelor of Arts in mathematical economic analysis from Rice University and a Master of City Planning with a concentration in community and economic development from the University of Pennsylvania.