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Maria Contreras-Sweet

Co-Chair, Task Force on Paid Family Leave; 24th Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration

Headshot of Maria Contreras-Sweet

Maria Contreras-Sweet is a member of BPC’s Board of Directors and a co-chair of BPC’s Task Force on Paid Family Leave. She is currently the managing partner of Rockway Equity Partners, a private-equity firm that invests in technology, manufacturing, and infrastructure-related companies.  

 From 2014 to 2017, Contreras-Sweet served in the Cabinet of President Barack Obama as the 24th administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).   

 During her private sector career, she started three businesses, including ProAmérica Bank, a commercial bank focusing on small to mid-sized businesses, with a specialty in serving the Latino community. Earlier, Contreras-Sweet was a public affairs executive at Westinghouse’s 7-Up/RC Bottling Company—at the time the largest 7-Up bottler in the world—where she later became an equity partner. 

 From 1999 to 2003, she served as the secretary of the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency for the State of California, where she oversaw 44,000 employees, a $14 billion budget, and 14 state departments, including Transportation, Highway Patrol, Housing, Financial Institutions, Corporations, Real Estate, and Motor Vehicles. She also oversaw the creation of the state Department of Managed Health Care and its Office of Patient Advocate. During the state’s energy crisis, she served on the board of California’s electrical power grid, CA-ISO, and helped to stabilize the volatile energy market amid the state’s rolling blackouts. 

 She is a founding director of The California Endowment, a multibillion-dollar philanthropic foundation.  She served on the original Federal Glass Ceiling Commission, educating the corporate community about eliminating artificial barriers for women and minorities in the workplace.  She has served on numerous boards and is currently serving on the Board of Sempra Energy. She has been bestowed several honorary doctorates including from Tufts University, Whittier College, and California State University, Los Angeles, where she also earned her bachelor’s degree.