I’m delighted to announce that our 2013 commencement speaker will be Maria Contreras-Sweet, the founding chairwoman of PROAMÉRICA BANK, the first Latino-owned commercial bank in California in over 35 years.
Contreras-Sweet served as one of our keynote speakers at the College’s release of our first Report on the Status of Women and Girls in California in 2012. We are so pleased to welcome her back, this time to speak to our graduates during commencement May 6 at the Gibson Amphitheatre in Universal City.
With PROAMÉRICA BANK, which focuses on serving small- to mid-size Latino-owned businesses, Contreras-Sweet became one of the first Latinas in the United States to found a publicly traded company. It’s an opportunity she prepared for through her experience in a wide range of challenging roles and leadership positions.
Prior to founding PROAMÉRICA BANK, Contreras-Sweet served for five years — longer than anyone before her — as the Secretary of Business, Transportation and Housing Agency for the State of California, where she managed a $14 billion budget and a workforce of more than 42,000.
During her Cabinet tenure, she created the Department of Managed Health Care and led the implementation of Proposition 46, a $2.1 billion housing fund, stimulating the state’s economy. She also provided leadership as chair of The Infrastructure Commission, the Census 2000 Decennial State Campaign and the Finance Committee of the state’s electrical power grid, helping to stabilize a highly volatile energy market. In addition, during California’s energy crisis, Gov. Gray Davis appointed Contreras-Sweet to the restructured Independent System Operator board of directors.
Contreras-Sweet has held other leadership positions in the business and nonprofit worlds. Her commitment to expanding women’s leadership opportunities motivated her to join the Women’s Leadership Board at Harvard University, the International Women’s Forum and to serve as a U.S. Senate appointee to the Federal Glass Ceiling Commission. Contreras-Sweet is a founding director of The California Endowment and a founding president of Hispanas Organized for Political Equality. And she has contributed to a number of boards, including the Children’s Hospital board and the California Advisory Board of the Milken Institute, to name just a few.
Contreras-Sweet’s work has won her numerous awards, including The Spirit of California from the California State Legislature and “Entrepreneur of the Year” from the U.S. Hispanic Congressional Caucus. She is married to Ray Sweet and is proud to be a mother to three children.
We are honored to have Maria Contreras-Sweet join us for commencement on May 6, and to speak to Mount St. Mary’s 2013 graduating class.
Sergio Lopez is graduating with a Masters of Arts degree in Religious Studies. As a husband, musician, speaker and Catholic lay minister, he has dedicated his life to pursuing the advancement of justice and peace by using his gifts to serve those on the margins of society. He loves exercising and In N Out, although not always in that order. Sergio is Youth and Music Minister at St. Rose of Lima Parish in Simi Valley.
Poppi Monroe is a graduating Weekend College student earning her baccalaureate degree in Liberal Arts with a Religious Studies minor. She has been working in the entertainment industry for over 20 years as an actress and plans on continuing her career upon graduation. In addition, she plans on taking the GRE in the spring of 2014, with the intention of applying for graduate school in the fall of 2014, where she will pursue a master’s degree in Women’s History. Ms. Monroe would like to teach women’s history at the college level. She believes it takes courage to enroll in college for the first time or to return after life’s many adventures.
Stephanie Morales is graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing. She is passionate about working and caring for others, especially during their most vulnerable moments. Throughout her four years at Mount St. Mary’s College, she has been involved in several clubs and organizations. She began her freshman year as a Women’s Leadership Scholar. She is also a member of Alpha Tau Delta and Sigma Theta Tau International, both nursing organizations. This past fall, she had the opportunity to participate in Kaiser’s Nurse Externship Program. She is excited to graduate and begin her career as a nurse!
Belen Osoria is an Early Childhood Education graduate. She enjoys being involved and helping her community, having had served as president of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society during the 2012-13 school year. Belen is involved in the youth ministry at her San Fernando Valley parish, as well as Project GRAD Los Angeles, a nonprofit organization that works to help first generation, low income students obtain a college education. As she transitions to the Chalon campus, Belen plans to double major in Sociology and Child Development, as she hopes to one day become a social worker and volleyball coach.