In April of 2014 that all changed as Maria Contreras-Sweet was appointed by President Barack Obama (and confirmed by the Senate) to become the 24th SBA Administrator, and she wasted no time getting familiar with the SBA's many programs, including SBIR.
Struggling with lack of resources due in part to sequestration, Contreras-Sweet found a way to make sure that some additional funding went to supporting the SBIR program.
What clearly set Administrator Contreras-Sweet apart from previous administrators is that she became a big time SBIR emissary, the likes of which had not been seen before. While touring the country speaking out for small business, she usually found a way to bring SBIR into the mix, in an interesting way and to diverse audiences.
Ms. Contreras-Sweet would also attend SBIR events, not just the big ones, but smaller ones sponsored by the smaller agencies. Her presence meant so much to SBIR companies displaying their STEM and educational wares at ED Games Day in Washington, D.C. She spent considerable time visiting the small SBIR businesses, viewing demos and listening to the stories of these talented SBIR women game developers. She also complimented and encouraged the SBIR program mangers there such as Ed Metz (Dept of Ed) and Charles Cleeland (USDA).
Contreras-Sweet also knew her way around Capitol Hill and the politicos she had to deal with in the committees. Even there, she would often refer to and promote the SBIR program and its success. That's just scratching the surface.
For her work, passion, dedication, and promotion of the SBIR/STTR programs, Maria Contreras-Sweet is the SBIR Person of the Year for 2016.
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