Karen Gordon Mills was sworn in as the 23rd Administrator of the Small Business Administration in April of 2009 after being appointed by President Barack Obama and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate. She has served in the President’s Cabinet since January of 2012.
As part of the Cabinet, Administrator Mills is a key member of the President’s economic leadership team, reflecting the important role that small businesses and entrepreneurs play in our nation’s long-term economic growth and prosperity.
Administrator Mills is a strong voice for the needs of small businesses in our nation’s capital – and brings her private sector experience building, owning and investing in small businesses to the agency and to small businesses all across the country.
Under her leadership, SBA had a record year in 2011, supporting more than $30 billion in lending to more than 60,000 small businesses across the United States. 2011 also was a record year for SBA’s Small Business Investment Companies, which supported $2.6 billion in financing to more than 1,300 high-growth small businesses.
Over the last three years, Administrator Mills has streamlined and simplified SBA’s core loan programs, reduced paperwork, shortened turnaround times and increased transparency across the agency.
In addition, she has led the development of innovative Administration-wide programs that help small businesses create regional clusters, gain access to early stage capital, hire skilled workers, boost exports and tap into corporate supply chains.
As Administrator, she leads a team of more than 3,000 employees and manages a portfolio of more than $90 billion in loan guarantees. In addition, the agency helps small businesses access nearly $100 billion in federal contracts each year and supports counseling and technical assistance to more than one million entrepreneurs. SBA also provides disaster assistance to small businesses and homeowners.
Prior to the SBA, Mills held leadership positions in the private sector. Most 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 Governor John Baldacci appointed Mills to chair Maine’s Council on Competitiveness and the Economy, where she focused on 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.
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 is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and was vice chairman of the Harvard Overseers.
Administrator Mills lives in Maine, where her husband, Barry Mills, is the President of Bowdoin College. They have three sons.