Isabel Guzman is the administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA). Prior to holding this office, she had served as the director of California's Office of the Small Business Advocate since 2019. She was nominated by then President-elect Joe Biden for the position in early Jan. 2021, confirmed by the Senate on March 16, 2021, and took office the next day.
As administrator, Guzman is responsible for overseeing the SBA in its work to help Americans plan, launch, and grow small businesses. The SBA provides business counseling, loans, federal government contracting, and other related services. It has been particularly active in providing support to small businesses struggling as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, having approved more loans in its 2020 fiscal year than in all previous years combined.
In her previous position as director of California's Office of the Small Business Advocate, Guzman oversaw initiatives to aid Californian small businesses in adopting new technologies to reopen during the pandemic, and she initiated a $500 million business grant program. Prior to that, 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. While SBA usually has a low profile compared to other 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 former 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.