U.S. Small Business Administration Regional Administrator Yolanda Garcia Olivarez is an August 2009 appointee of President Barack Obama and former SBA Administrator Karen Mills. Mrs. Olivarez leads the delivery of SBA’s financial, entrepreneurial development, government contracting and international export initiatives to assist more than 3.3 million small businesses in the South Central Region’s five states - Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. The Region VI Office is located in Dallas/Fort Worth.
In Fiscal 2015, SBA approved 6,841 loans in the South Central Region valued at $3.4 billion, an increase of 20 percent and 23 percent, respectively, over Fiscal 2014. Small businesses were awarded $9.6 Billion in federal contracts in Fiscal 2015.
Mrs. Olivarez’s extensive background in business and community development uniquely positions her to understand and engage small business owners. She oversees a network of small business counselors which consist of 107 Small Business Development Centers, 59 SCORE Offices and 18 Women’s Business Centers located in 10 district offices throughout the South Central Region. She manages about 115 SBA employees in Little Rock, AR.; New Orleans, LA; Albuquerque, NM; Oklahoma City, OK; Dallas/Fort Worth, El Paso, Harlingen, Houston, Lubbock, and San Antonio, TX, and one branch office in Corpus Christi, TX.
Before joining SBA, Mrs. Olivarez excelled in trade, commerce and financial services industries for nearly 40 years. For more than 15 years, she served as senior vice president/commercial lender and business development officer at Wells Fargo Bank and 20 years with Bank of America, formerly NationsBank. She served 12 years as a Port Commissioner for the Port of Corpus Christi and led trade expeditions to Spain, China, Mexico, Taiwan and other countries. She was the first woman and Hispanic to chair the Port Authority Commission in its 75-year history. Mrs. Olivarez has also led public finance bond projects for government entities on the state and federal levels.
Mrs. Olivarez’s gift to inspire and build trust has led to a range of distinguished appointments to Boards and Commissions. They include Nueces County Civil Service Commissioner, the Christus Spohn Hospital Board of South Texas, American Heart Association Chairman, and the United Way Finance Council Board. She participated in the Catholic Diocese of Corpus Christi, Texas A&M University Foundation Board, Del Mar College Finance Board, AVANCE Selena Center, the Metropolitan Board of Transportation, the Texas Tomorrow Fund, Future of the Region, Inc. (FORI), South Texas Military Task Force and the USS Lexington Battleship Fundraising Committee, Bays and Estuaries Committee, and she chaired the Audit and Finance Committee for the Port Authority for more than two years.
Mrs. Olivarez’s passion for building strong communities and empowering individuals has led her to a career that spans areas such as education, health, faith-based, environmental, finance, and economic development. She is most proud of her work in creating and establishing an organization with the City of Corpus Christi and local bankers to construct homes for low to moderate income families.
A native of Corpus Christi, she has been recognized for more than 40 years of community service by a large number of business, women, community and faith-based organizations, and has been honored twice by the State of Texas Legislature and the National Museum of Mexican Arts in Chicago, IL.
She was recently honored as one of Hispanic Business Magazine’s top Women of Excellence under the Obama Administration.
Mrs. Olivarez attributes her success to the support of her husband, Ronnie and her daughter, Sofia Anna, as well as the strong foundation established by her parents.