President Joe Biden nominated Isabel Guzman, director of California’s Office of the Small Business Advocate, as administrator of the Small Business Administration. The nomination, made in early January, requires Senate confirmation.
As administrator, Guzman will be responsible for overseeing the Small Business Administration in its work to help Americans plan, launch, and grow small businesses. The Small Business Administration provides business counseling, loans, federal government contracting, and other related services. This office has been particularly active in providing support to small businesses struggling as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with a total of nearly $1 trillion in emergency relief money disbursed.
Since 2019, Guzman has served as director of California's Office of the Small Business Advocate. In this position, she has overseen initiatives to aid California small businesses in adopting new technologies to reopen during the pandemic and has initiated a $500 million business grant program. Previously, she was deputy chief of staff and senior advisor to Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet of the Small Business Administration during President Barack Obama's second term.
Guzman is widely viewed as a strong choice for the position. As a Latina member of President Biden's cabinet, she also brings diversity. While SBA usually has a low profile compared to major cabinet posts, Guzman faces major challenges in further bolstering small businesses during the pandemic. This includes managing the ongoing work related to the Paycheck Protection Program, which was launched during the administration of President Donald Trump.
Early Career and Education
Guzman's father was a veterinarian who ran his own business. Her earlier career includes work as founder of GovContractPros, a consultancy aiming to help businesses navigate more than $500 billion worth of federal contracts potentially available to them.
Guzman holds degrees in business and economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.