Maria Contreras-Sweet Headshot
Maria Contreras-Sweet
Maria Contreras-SweetHeadshot

Maria Contreras-Sweet

Head of the U.S. Small Business Administration (2014-2017); Founder ProAmérica Bank; Former Secretary of California’s Business, Transportation and Housing Agency; Former Vice President, Westinghouse

Maria Contreras-Sweet is an expert in economic growth, job creation, corporate governance and competitiveness.

Internationally acclaimed for her insights on growth and innovation, she is also sought after for her tactical insights for American businesses from a financial and economic standpoint. Maria was widely praised for doing this on a national level when she served in President Obama's Cabinet as Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). 

Recognized for her creative leadership and forward-thinking economic solutions, Maria’s drive to bring the SBA into the digital age and expand into broader domestic and global markets yielded record results in lending and contracting for American businesses. A longtime advocate for America’s business owners and entrepreneurs, and respected champion for diversity and inclusion, job creation, economic innovation, and equal opportunity, Maria’s achievements in bringing efficiencies and modernization to organizations have earned her international acclaim. In 2021, she was named one of the most influential leaders in the boardroom by the National Association of Corporate Directors as part of their Directorship 100™ program, recognizing those who have made a significant impact on corporate governance. In addition, she was named to the 2021 Marquis Who’s Who Top 50 American Latino Leaders list.

An entrepreneur and business executive herself, her extensive career includes serving as Secretary of the California Business, Transportation, and Housing Agency, the founding chairwoman of ProAmérica Bank, and vice president of public affairs for Westinghouse’s 7-Up / RC Bottling Company. She is the founding president of Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE), whose mission is to provide political and leadership opportunities for Hispanic women. In 2018 Sweet made headlines when her firm considered purchasing the embattled Weinstein film studios following sexual harassment complaints. Ultimately, the deal did not go through, but Contreras-Sweet was widely commended for her desire to provide compensation to Harvey Weinstein’s victims and to make it a woman-led company.

Maria serves on many prominent corporate boards, including Regional Management Corp., Sempra Energy, Trinet Group Inc., and Zions Bancorporation. She also serves on the nonprofit boards of the Bipartisan Center in Washington, D.C., and the World Affairs Council/Town Hall in Los Angeles.

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