maria contreras-sweet

Maria Contreras-Sweet is the founding chairwoman of PROMÉRICA BANK, the first Latino-owned business bank in California in over 35 years which serves small to mid-sized businesses with a focus on the Latino business community. Contreras-Sweet becomes one of the first Latinas in the country to found a publicly-traded company.

Prior to founding PROMÉRICA BANK, Contreras-Sweet served for five years as the Secretary of Business, Transportation and Housing Agency for the State of California, where she managed a $14 billion budget and a workforce of over 42,000. During her tenure she created the Department of Managed Health Care and led the implementation of Proposition 46, a $2.1 billion housing fund, stimulating the state’s economy. She chaired The Infrastructure Commission which published “Invest for California: Strategic Planning for California’s Future Prosperity and Quality of Life.” She served as the Chair of the Census 2000 Decennial State Campaign. During California’s energy crisis, the governor appointed Maria to the restructured Independent System Operator board of directors. She chaired the Finance Committee of the state’s electrical power grid, helping to stabilize a highly volatile energy market.

Prior to her state cabinet post, Maria served on the Board of Blue Cross of California and equity partner of the 7UP/RC Bottling Company. She serves on numerous boards including the Women’s Leadership Board at Harvard University, the International Women’s Forum, the Children’s Hospital board, the California Advisory Board of the Milken Institute, the Advisory Board for PepsiCo and Frito-Lay Company and many more.

Ms. Contreras-Sweet is the recipient of numerous awards, including The Spirit of California from the California State Legislature, Entrepreneur of the Year from the U.S. Hispanic Congressional Caucus. She is a frequent speaker in the areas of infrastructure investment, finance, and has led international delegations to Europe and Latin America to address infrastructure issues. She is married to Ray Sweet and they have three children.