Hometown: Los Angeles.
Education: Attended California State University, Los Angeles.
Career: Owned companies including Fortius Holdings, a private equity and venture fund, and Promerica Bank, a lender serving small businesses in Los Angeles. Corporate executive at Westinghouse’s 7-Up / RC Bottling Co. Served as secretary of California’s Business, Transportation and Housing Agency.
Family: Husband Ray, three children.
Greatest challenge as a business owner: When Contreras-Sweet started her first company, she used money from her Westinghouse stock options to fund it, and also took out a loan under a program to help women-owned businesses. Because she was busy running the company, she asked her husband to pay the company’s invoices. During an audit of her status, she was told, “you’re not really a woman-owned business because the financial aspect of your business is actually run by your husband. And I said, ‘follow the money, see where it came from.’ ”
Greatest success as a business owner: “I’m really proud of having built a financial institution.”