On the Road to Survival: Austin Woman Magazine Article October 1, 2020
Rebecca Contreras had only ever been on one other plane in her entire life. It was a trip to Mexico with her husband. “First time on a plane ride, first time in the ocean,” Contreras says. Read Full Article here.
The story of Rebecca Contreras is unique and powerful. Her journey began in hopelessness, poverty and failure, but her personal and professional story of success has become a source of great inspiration to many across the nation.
Growing up in a single parent home in the inner city in an environment of physical and emotional neglect, Rebecca became pregnant at age 17, was forced to drop out of high school and seemed destined to become another statistic. However, tired of the shame, bitterness and hopelessness, at age 19 Rebecca choose to make a personal decision of faith, went back to school and began the necessary steps to a personal transformation. With hard work, perseverance, education/training and top mentors, she began a journey to get on the right track in her life, obtained her GED, pursued training and began her career in government. Rebecca began her public service in state government through a Welfare-to-Work program for single moms in Texas where upon completion of the program, she was afforded an opportunity for an entry level state job. She was hired by the State Treasury Department in October 1989 in an entry level HR position and started her government career serving in the Treasurer’s Administration of the late Ann Richards, who was later elected Governor of Texas. In 1990 she met her husband David while serving in an inner city outreach program, they married two years later. Through hard work, constant learning, training and great mentors, Rebecca worked her way up the chain in government to eventually serve as a manager and eventually a Director. Along with her professional success, Rebecca experienced tremendous growth in her personal life, learning how to love and care for her family as a mother and wife. After over 30 years of marriage, Rebecca and David both firmly believe in taking the entire life lesson’s they have learned and blessings they have experienced and giving back to the Community.
Rebecca Contreras is currently the President & CEO of AvantGarde LLC (AG), a certified 8a and Women Owned Small Business firm she co- founded as Majority Partner in May 2011. AG offers a “one stop shop” approach to addressing complex organizational, people and technology needs. Rebecca has dedicated her entire career to the people business, serving in executive leadership roles driving large scale people and organizational change initiatives.
AG has grown to over 100+ employees and over 17 million in revenue. Prior to moving onto consulting, Rebecca spent 15 years in State and Federal government prior to starting her career in consulting. While in government, Rebecca served as an executive and chief advisory to the Secretary in the role of Deputy Assistant Secretary and Chief Human Capital Officer at the U.S. Department of Treasury. She also served as a Member on the government wide Chief Human Capital Officer’s Council advising Congress and the President on Workforce issues was the Chair of the Diversity Council for the Department of Treasury. Prior to that role, she served as a Commissioned Officer in the White House as Special Assistant for Personnel to President George W. Bush. Her portfolio included managing the President’s appointments and executive recruiting process for over 1,200 board and commission positions in the Federal Government. While in the White House, she also played a lead role in the Diversity recruitment process (women and minorities) and was part of the Personnel team sourcing diverse candidates for consideration for thousands of full-time positions in government. She also served as a surrogate to President Bush for National level representation in speaking engagements and conferences in the DC area.
Rebecca also served as a career civil servant for nearly twelve years in Texas State Government including serving as the Director of Human Resources for the Office of then Governor Bush for six years. Prior to joining the Governor’s Office, she served as HR Manager for then Texas Treasurer Kay Bailey Hutchison and Texas icon Ann Richards for six years.
In January 2020, Rebecca was nominated and awarded a global award “Women in Enterprise” by Women Enterprising Magazine. In December 2019, Rebecca was recognized by Women President’s Organization (WPO) from a global list of nominees and selected to the “Women 2 Watch for 2020”. In 2017 & 2018, SBA recognized AG for National Small Business Week with a San Antonio District Award in the Category of “Women Small Business of the Year” and the UTSA sponsored award for “Federal Contractor Minority Business of the Year”. Also, in 2017, Mrs. Contreras received the Texas “Women Profiles in Power” award by the Austin Business Journal. Governor Greg Abbott in conjunction with the 2017 Texas Small Business Summit, also honored Ms. Contreras with the Texas “Latina Entrepreneurial Excellence Award”.
Rebecca also serves under The Partnership as a Strategic Advisor to Executives in Government – SAGE and is a Member of the Women President’s Organization (WPO) *Austin Chapter. Rebecca also served a three-year Presidential term on the Board of WestPoint Military Academy and also served for seven years on the Board of the American Bible Society as Chair of the Governance Committee. Rebecca also served on the Council of the National Business Women’s Council in 2018 that advises the President and Congress on women business issues – during her time at NBWC she served as the Chair of the Access to Capital Sub Committee.
Rebecca is passionate about empowering young girls and women, especially in entrepreneur development. She is also a motivational speaker sharing her awe-inspiring story and speaking to various groups on a variety of subjects on leadership and other inspirational topics.