KGM-HBS-7688 Portrait Final
Karen Gordon Mills is a Senior Fellow at the Harvard Business School and a leading authority on U.S. competitiveness, entrepreneurship and innovation. She served as a member of President Obama’s Cabinet and the Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration from 2009 to 2013, and remains an expert on the economic health and well-being of the nation’s small businesses.

Mills frequently provides analysis and insight on the small business lending market and its impact on the nation’s economy, including on the rapid growth of “fintech” online lenders, which she details in two working papers: The State of Small Business Lending: Innovation and Technology and Implications for Regulation (November 2016) and  The State of Small Business Lending: Credit Access in the Recovery and How Technology May Change the Game (July 2014). With a focus on the link between entrepreneurship and middle-class opportunity, she authored portions of the U.S. Competitiveness project’s reports The Challenge of Shared Prosperity and Growth and Shared Prosperity, as well as the University of Virginia’s Milstein Commission’s report Can Startups Save the American Dream?.  

Mills is President of MMP Group, which invests in businesses in financial services, consumer products and technology-enabled solutions. She currently serves as a director of several fast-growing entrepreneurial companies, including First Aid Beauty, and is Vice Chair of Envoy, an immigration services provider. She is Chair of the Advisory Committee for the Private Capital Research Institute and also serves as a co-Chair, with former U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe, of the Bipartisan Policy Center‘s Main Street Finance Task Force. She is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Harvard Corporation. She was previously a Senior Fellow at the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government at the Harvard Kennedy School and is a past Vice Chair of the Harvard Overseers.

As SBA Administrator and a Cabinet member, Mills served on the President’s National Economic Council and as a key member of the White House economic team. At SBA, she led a team of more than 3,000 employees and managed a loan guarantee portfolio of over $100 billion. Mills is credited with turning around the Agency, streamlining loan programs, decreasing processing times and reducing paperwork, which led to record-breaking years for SBA lending and investments in growth capital. Additionally, Mills led efforts to help small businesses create regional economic clusters, gain access to early-stage capital, boost exports, and tap into government and commercial supply chains.

Prior to the SBA, Mills held leadership positions in the private sector, including as a partner in several private equity firms, and served on the boards of Scotts Miracle-Gro and Arrow Electronics. In 2007, Maine Governor John Baldacci appointed Mills to Chair Maine’s Council on Competitiveness and the Economy, where she focused on regional development initiatives, including a regional economic cluster with Maine’s boatbuilding industry.

Mills earned an AB in economics from Harvard University and an MBA from Harvard Business School, where she was a Baker Scholar. She is a recipient of the U.S. Department of the Navy’s Distinguished Public Service Award, and is a frequent guest on news outlets, including Bloomberg radio and TV, and opinion writer, with recent placements in Fortune, Forbes, The Hill, Harvard Business Review and American Banker.