Who Is Isabella Casillas Guzman?

Isabella Casillas Guzman is the current administrator of the Small Business Administration. Nominated by President-elect Joe Biden on Jan. 7, 2021, and confirmed by the Senate on March 16, 2021, Guzman was sworn into office on March 17, 2021.

In this role, Isabella Casillas Guzman represents and supports over 32.5 million U.S. small businesses as owners plan, launch, and grow their operations.

Key Takeaways

• Isabella Casillas Guzman is the administrator of the Small Business Administration.

• She served as Director of the California Office of the Small Business Advocate.

• Guzman co-founded GovContractPros to help government contractors access the federal marketplace.

• Isabella Casillas Guzman oversaw the Paycheck Protection Program during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Early Life and Education

Isabella Casillas Guzman was born in Burbank, California in 1970, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor's degree in economics. Her early career positions include managing partner at Miauhaus Studios, deputy appointments secretary in the office of California governor Gray Davis, and consultant at Fortius Holdings. She was director of strategic initiatives at ProAmérica Bank in Los Angeles before joining the Small Business Administration in 2014.

Administrator of the Small Business Administration

Isabella Casillas Guzman first served the Small Business Administration during the Obama administration as the deputy chief of staff and senior advisor to administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet from 2014 to 2017.

Guzman assumed her role as administrator at the Small Business Administration in 2021. As U.S. small businesses struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic, she inherited a portfolio of nearly $1 trillion in emergency aid for small business services. Guzman oversaw the Paycheck Protection Program, the forgivable loan program to help owners maintain their workforce. Additionally, Guzman monitored programs like the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, and the Shuttered Venues Grant program, both designed to help restaurant and event owners receive funding.

In 2022, Isabella Casillas Guzman will expand the Community Advantage Pilot Program, designed to leverage mission-based lenders to meet the credit, management, and technical assistance needs of small businesses in underserved markets. Community lenders serve as critical loan originators and expand the channels through which small businesses can access SBA guaranteed loans. Like banks, nonprofit and community lenders can originate SBA guaranteed loans, creating partnerships at the local, state, and federal levels.

Notable Accomplishments

In 2018, Isabella Casillas Guzman co-founded GovContractPros to provide consulting services to companies interested in obtaining contracts with the federal government.

Guzman served as the Director of the California Office of the Small Business Advocate from 2019 to 2021. She was the voice of small businesses and innovative startups in the 5th largest economy in the world. Isabella Casillas Guzman administered and advocated for programs and initiatives to aid small businesses and helped connect entrepreneurs in every community with necessary resources. During the pandemic, she initiated a $500 million business grant program.

What Is Isabella Casillas Guzman's Personal Connection to Small Business?

Her father owned a small veterinary practice in California and Guzman recalls, "I experienced firsthand how important small business owners are to the communities they serve and why we rightly call them the fabric of our neighborhoods."

What Is the California Entrepreneurship Task Force?

As Director of the California Office of the Small Business Advocate, Guzman launched the Entrepreneurship Task Force to serve as a bridge to small businesses and create content and programs to help strengthen the competitiveness of startups and small firms.

How Is the SBA, Under Guzman, Helping Women-Owned Business?

Through the American Rescue Plan Act, the $1.9 trillion relief package signed into law on March 11, 2021, the SBA is making key changes and expansions to pandemic relief programs that will increase support for women business owners and other underserved communities.

The Bottom Line

As the 27th administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, Isabella Casillas Guzman is actively helping small business owners and entrepreneurs. Guzman was raised by a small business owner and learned the importance of small businesses to the communities they serve, the people they employ, and the economies they create.

Article Sources
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  1. Small Business Administration. "Isabella Casillas Guzman."

  2. Forbes. "One Year Later: A Conversation with SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman."

  3. New York Times. "Isabella Casillas Guzman."

  4. Isabella Casillas Guzman. "Championing Equitable Access for Women Business Owners."

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