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.

  • 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.

  • Robert Anderson

    Robert Anderson currently serves as the Senior Vice President of Customer Experience for the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, a nonprofit organization. He joined the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce in 2022. As a member of the executive team, he is responsible for evaluating and refining customer segmentation strategies while deploying a sales strategy that earns sustainable and growing revenue. He manages and leads the teams responsible for retaining, growing and attracting revenue, including the Customer Success, and Customer Development Teams.

    Prior to joining the Chamber team, Robert served in senior management roles for several financial institutions including Executive Vice President of Banking. Robert has applied his talent in customer development, relationship management and financial acumen in the financial sector for nearly 30 years.

    Robert earned a BS in Business Administration from California State University and a Master of Business Administration in Business Management from Roosevelt University.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.