Vistage welcomes two new board members to further its vision of helping CEOs of small and midsize businesses to become better leaders

CEO peer advisory organization’s board rounds out its depth of experience with former U.S. SBA Administrator and Retired U.S. Army General

SAN DIEGO, Aug. 17, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Vistage, the world’s largest CEO coaching and peer advisory organization, today announced Secretary Maria Contreras-Sweet and General (R) Robert B. “Abe” Abrams have joined its board of directors.

Vistage CEO Sam Reese said, “We are thrilled to welcome Secretary Maria Contreras-Sweet and General Robert Abrams to our board. Each member of the board is committed to Vistage’s purpose of helping high-integrity leaders make great decisions that benefit their companies, families and communities. Secretary Contreras-Sweet’s extensive background including as the head of the US Small Business Administration (SBA) and in the private and public sector and General Abrams’ esteemed leadership expertise will provide tremendous insight to Vistage, as we continue to focus on empowering CEOs to become better leaders who make better decisions and deliver better outcomes.”

In over three decades of service in the public and private sectors, Secretary Maria Contreras-Sweet has remained dedicated to promoting America’s competitiveness and global leadership. Her mission-driven career has focused on the small and medium-size business community and their ability to access capital, with inclusivity as a hallmark. Contreras-Sweet served on the President’s cabinet as the 24th administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration. Earlier, she was appointed as cabinet secretary of the California Business, Transportation and Housing Agency, and then founded ProAmérica Bank, a Latino-owned community financial institution in Los Angeles to provide capital to small and midsize businesses. She served on the Harvard Women’s Leadership Board, which advises the university and supports research opportunities for female professors. She was a founding director of The California Endowment, a multi-billion-dollar philanthropic foundation to help improve the health status of Californians. Honorable Contreras-Sweet has been bestowed with five Honorary Doctorates from Tufts University, Mount St. Mary’s University, Whittier College, La Verne University and California State University, Los Angeles.

Secretary Maria Contreras-Sweet stated, “Vistage’s vision and purpose immediately stood out to me, as I too have dedicated my life to supporting and advocating for small businesses. Throughout my career, I have seen firsthand how small businesses are able to innovate, disrupt, and scale, with entrepreneurial spirit, resilience and determination. Small and medium enterprises drive our nation’s innovation, global competitiveness, and the vast majority of our job growth. I believe there is enormous potential and possibility in how Vistage peer advisory groups and executive coaching can help support America’s entrepreneurs in their heroic efforts to create jobs and lift up their communities.”

Over a 39-year career of active duty service, General (R) Robert B. “Abe” Abrams led combat troops in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan during multiple combat tours spanning Operation Desert Shield/Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. He commanded the Army’s largest formation, US Army Forces Command, with more than 750,000 soldiers and Department of the Army Civilians across all three components for more than three years. His final assignment was as the Commander United Nations Command, the ROK-US Combined Forces Command and US Forces Korea. General (R) Abrams is a board advisor for NOCTEM Health Inc, senior advisor to the CEO and board of VAYA Space and is the Vice Chairman for the Korea Defense Veteran’s Association. General (R) Abrams also speaks publicly on leadership and Korean Peninsula affairs. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and holds masters degrees from Central Michigan University and the U.S. Army War College.

General (R) Robert B. “Abe” Abrams said, “By joining Vistage’s board of directors, I have the opportunity to continue my life’s passion for developing and helping leaders become better. Throughout my career, I’ve seen how leadership, character and integrity are pivotal to any organization’s success. It’s no surprise to me that Vistage’s peer advisory model drives best-in-class results in the business world; we benefited from bringing small groups of leaders with diverse perspectives together to share ideas and solve challenges in the Army as well. As the business environment only becomes more challenging, I believe there is a tremendous desire–and need–for the leadership coaching Vistage provides.”

Secretary Contreras-Sweet and General Abrams join Vistage’s full board of directors, comprised of:

  • Vistage CEO Sam Reese, who has led the company since 2016.
  • Gridiron Capital Co-founder and Managing Partner Tom Burger, Senior Managing Director Will Hausberg, Principal Doug Rosenstein, and Vice President Nick Weido
  • Colibri Group Founder and Executive Chairman Mike Duran, who was previously a Founding Partner of Alpine Investors.
  • Dean’s Executive Professor at Santa Clara University’s Leavey School of Business Robert Finocchio. He previously held the role of President, CEO, and Chairman of the Board of Informix Corporation, President of 3Com Systems and has served on 12 public and 10 private company boards.

About Vistage Worldwide, Inc.
Vistage is the world’s largest CEO coaching and peer advisory organization for small and midsize businesses. For more than 65 years, we’ve been helping CEOs, business owners and key executives solve their greatest challenges through confidential peer groups and one-to-one executive coaching sessions. Today, more than 45,000 members in 35 countries rely on Vistage to help make better decisions for their companies, families and communities. The results prove it: Vistage CEO members grew their annual revenue on average by 4.6% in 2020, while nonmembers with comparable small and midsize businesses saw revenue decrease by 4.7%, according to a study of Dun & Bradstreet data. Learn more at

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