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Karen Mills

Former Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration

As SBA Administrator, Mills led a team of 3,000 employees whose mission is to help entrepreneurs and small business owners grow and create jobs by providing greater access to capital, counseling, federal contracting opportunities, disaster assistance and more. Among its priorities, the SBA has a portfolio of more than $90 billion in loan guarantees. Each year, the agency helps leverage nearly $100 billion in federal contracts to small businesses and supports free counseling and technical assistance to more than 1 million entrepreneurs. In addition, SBA provides disaster assistance to homeowners, renters, and businesses with the help of 2,000 additional on-call employees.

Throughout her career, Mills has owned, managed, mentored, and invested in small and growing businesses across the country.

As an investor and owner, she helped several small manufacturers improve their competitiveness and ultimately survive the downturn of the early 1990s. This included producers of hardwood flooring, refrigerator motor manufacturers, plastic injection molding companies, and more. More recently, she was President of the MMP Group, which invested and grew businesses in sectors such as consumer products, food, textiles, and industrial components.

In 2007, Maine Gov. John Baldacci appointed Mills to chair the state’s Council on Competitiveness and the Economy, where she focused on attracting investment in rural and regional development initiatives, including a regional economic cluster with Maine’s boatbuilding industry. She also served on the Governor’s Council for the Redevelopment of the Brunswick Naval Air Station.

In her current position, Mills has helped expand access to capital through SBA lending, increase small business’ share of federal contracts, strengthen SBA’s network of more than 14,000 affiliated counselors, and oversee critical disaster assistance operations across the country.

Mills earned an A.B. in economics from Harvard University and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School where she was a Baker Scholar. Additionally, she served as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and was vice chairman of the Harvard Overseers.

She and her husband, Barry Mills, president of Bowdoin College, live in Brunswick, Maine. They have three sons.

Follow the U.S. Small Business Administration on Twitter @SBAgov.

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