City of Austin Completes Economic Development Department Leadership Team
The City of Austin Economic Development Department (EDD) is pleased to announce the final recruitment of its leadership team with the hiring of David Gray as Assistant Director and Susana Carbajal as Deputy Director.
“With a strong leadership team in place, we are positioned to continue recovery support and resources for growth in small business development, cultural arts and music industry rebound, heritage tourism, economic policy for business expansion, and redevelopment of city-owned property,” explains Sylnovia Holt-Rabb, Director of the Economic Development Department. “We look forward to increased collaboration to build Austin’s future.”
The City of Austin's Economic Development Department supports and recruits business to Austin. The mission is to promote a competitive, sustainable and equitable economy for all through six divisions:
- Cultural Arts programs integrate arts and artists into economic development.
- Global Business Expansion increases jobs and investment in Austin with programs that support business expansion and attraction.
- Heritage Tourism programs aim to attract tourists by preserving historic buildings, sites, and districts.
- Music & Entertainment supports Austin’s venues, commercial music businesses, and musicians.
- Redevelopment facilitates innovative partnerships and projects to re-invigorate Austin neighborhoods and commercial districts.
- Small Business helps small business owners and entrepreneurs who want to start a small business.
David Gray as Assistant Director will oversee the Creative and Cultural Ecosystem, which includes the Cultural Arts Division, Heritage Tourism Division, and Music & Entertainment Division, as well as the communications team.
“I look forward to working with our local creative and historic communities and ensuring that our services reach our most vulnerable neighbors,” notes David Gray. “We will continue to sustain Austin’s world-renowned cultural ecosystem by delivering programs, funding opportunities, and policies that produce economic and community benefits for our local creative professionals and organizations.”
Susana Carbajal as Deputy Director will oversee Business Engagement and Community Building, which includes the Small Business Division, Redevelopment Division, and Global Business Expansion Division, as well as the administrative and finance teams.
“We will continue to advocate for all Austinites through equitable development and business programming.” notes Susana Carbajal. “Engaging our local businesses and building inclusive communities are the foundation of economic development.”
David Gray, Assistant Director
David initially joined EDD in March 2020 as the department’s Public Information & Marketing Program Manager and established the department’s first centralized communications team. David also served as EDD’s Economic Recovery Programs Project Manager when the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in Austin. In this role, he led 12 program launches in two years, which collectively distributed more than $60 million dollars in emergency support for local businesses, creatives, and communities.
Most recently, David served as Interim Assistant Director for Austin’s Housing and Planning Department (HPD), where he supported the Displacement Prevention, Inclusive Planning, and Strategic Data Divisions. David’s experience prior to joining EDD includes leading community engagement efforts for the Austin Transportation Department’s Vision Zero Program; managing the Community Benefits Division for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission; serving as the Chief of Staff for the Mayor of Richmond, CA; and holding other key positions in outreach and policy with local government organizations. David earned his Master of Public Policy from the University of California, Berkeley, and his Bachelor’s degrees from Tulane University.
Susana Carbajal, Deputy Director
Susana joined EDD in August 2020 and has since supported redevelopment efforts for Health South, Ryan Drive, St. Johns, and Colony Park; built the Global Business Expansion team to support workforce development, business retention and expansion efforts, and create local jobs; and led the completion of the small business needs assessment to guide classes, trainings, and resources needed by Austin’s small business community.
Prior to EDD, Susana served more than 10 years at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. In her role as Chief Deputy of Revenue, she strategically managed the airport’s business development, tenant management, advertising, legal and governmental affairs as well as oversaw the airport’s administration and records and information management program. Prior to working at AUS, Susana served as Chief Counsel for the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado, worked as an attorney at the law firm of Brown McCarroll, LLP (now Husch Blackwell, LLP), served in the Office of Presidential Personnel at The White House for President Bill Clinton, and worked as a staff assistant for Texas Congressman Ruben Hinojosa.
Over the years, Susana has voluntarily served on various boards of community non-profit organizations primarily to advocate for those in the community who need representation when public policy, community programs, and services are developed and initiated in early childhood education, health care, and workforce development. Susana graduated magna cum laude from American University in Washington, D.C. and The University of Texas School of Law.
Sylnovia Holt Rabb, Director
Sylnovia Holt Rabb has nearly 25 years of experience in accounting and financial management through non-profit corporations and local government. In 2000, Sylnovia began her career City of Austin in the Neighborhood Housing and Community Development Department as the Financial Manager. In 2009, Sylnovia transitioned to the Economic Development Department as the Financial Manager. She has served on the Executive Team as Assistant Director (2014) and Deputy Director (2019), and Director (2020). She leads innovative programs that increase the prosperity of Austinites, businesses, and diverse neighborhoods, creating a cultural and economic environment that enhances the vitality of the community.
During her tenure, Sylnovia was appointed as a Daniel Rose Fellow, Urban Land Institute Rose Center for Public Leadership. As fellow, Sylnovia, along with three other colleagues, focused on equitable economic development specifically around small businesses in community of color. Sylnovia is a graduate of Florida A&M University with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and a Master of Business Administration.
About the City of Austin Economic Development Department
The City of Austin Economic Development Department supports business growth, creative industries, and local communities. These programs build an equitable, sustainable economy to improve the lives of all Austin residents. To learn more about helpful resources, visit www.austintexas.gov/edd and subscribe to our newsletter. Connect with us @AustinEconDev on Facebook, @AustinEconDev on Twitter, and @AustinEconDev on YouTube.