KGM-HBS-7688 Portrait Final
Karen Gordon Mills served in President Barack Obama’s cabinet as the Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration from 2009 until August 2013. She is currently a Senior Fellow at the Harvard Business School focusing on U.S. Competitiveness, entrepreneurship and innovation and was previously a Senior Fellow at the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government at the Harvard Kennedy School.

An authority on the economic health and well-being of the nation’s small business community, Mills is the leading source for analysis and insight the small business lending market and its impact on the nation’s economy, including 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). The link between entrepreneurship and middle-class opportunity has also been a primary focus for Mills, including authoring portions of the September 2015 U.S. Competitiveness project reports The Challenge of Shared Prosperity and Growth and Shared Prosperity. As a member of the University of Virginia’s Milstein Commission on Entrepreneurship and Middle Class Jobs, she was a contributor to the January 2015 report Can Startups Save the American Dream?.

As SBA Administrator and a Cabinet member, Mills served on the President’s National Economic Council and was a key member of the White House economic team.  At the 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, shortening turnaround times, and reducing paperwork. These efforts resulted in record-breaking years for SBA lending and investments in growth capital. In addition, Mills helped small businesses create regional economic clusters, gain access to early stage capital, hire skilled workers, 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.  Most recently, she was president of MMP Group, which invested in businesses in consumer products, food, textiles, and industrial components.  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 chair of the Advisory Committee for the Private Capital Research Institute, a non-profit organization that seeks to further the understanding of private capital and its impact through independent academic studies. Additionally, she is a past vice chair of the Harvard Overseers, and is currently a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Harvard Corporation.