DEARBORN, Michigan – Maria Contreras-Sweet will be the keynote speaker at the annual Building Economic Bridges Gala hosted by the American Arab Chamber of Commerce (AACC). The Gala is set to take place at Burton Manor in Livonia, MI on Friday, October 17, 2014, at 6:00 pm. The event is open to the public; admission is by ticket only, available through the American Arab Chamber of Commerce.
The Chamber’s 22nd Building Economic Bridges Gala highlights the role of small businesses and their positive impact on the economy. Each year, the American Arab Gala celebrates the accomplishments of Chamber members and constituents, as well as commending the work of American Arab business leaders and entrepreneurs with the Economic Bridge Builder of the Year Award.
The keynote speaker, Maria Contreras-Sweet is a successful entrepreneur, business executive, and former state cabinet official. Throughout her career in the public and private sector, she has been a champion of diversity and access to capital and equal opportunity for all Americans. As Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), Contreras-Sweet is responsible for establishing policy on the four programmatic functions of the Small Business Administration including access to federal financing for small businesses, entrepreneurial development and counseling, small businesses have competitive access to government contracts, and serving as an advocate for the interests of small businesses in U.S. Congressional legislation.
Each year, the American Arab Chamber of Commerce honors American Arab business leaders with the Economic Bridge Builder of the Year award. This award recognizes their commitment to building economic, social, and cultural bridges through their business practices, demonstrated social responsibility, and cultural ambassadorship.
About the Award Winners
Lloyd Baroody is an international businessman, investor, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He co-founded a life sciences service company in the basement of his home. After only 10 years, his startup grew into a multi-million dollar company, later sold to a Fortune 500 and then to an international corporation in 2005.
Following his startup success, Baroody turned his attention to encouraging business growth, devoting most of his time to angel investing and mentoring entrepreneurs and start-up companies. He travelled many times to the MENA region, having coached budding entrepreneurs and counseled potential angel investors as part of the Global Entrepreneurship Program (GEP) and other programs aimed at assisting countries in developing a small business ecosystem. He has visited Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon in these efforts. Baroody’s philanthropic activities are focused on education and healthcare, which he considers the two most important pillars of any successful society or country.
Nawal Motawi founded Motawi Tileworks more than 20 years ago. A University of Michigan art school graduate of Egyptian descent, with a restless spirit and an interest in applied arts, Nawal moved to Detroit to learn tilemaking at Detroit’s storied Pewabic Pottery. She returned to Ann Arbor after a few years and began making her own tiles in a garage studio and selling them from a stand she rented at the local farmers’ market. Today, Nawal is still designing and making tiles in Ann Arbor. Her companies, Motawi Tileworks and Rovin Ceramics, employ more than 30 people. Her company is known for its workplace culture, emphasizing personal growth, ingenuity, and positivity resulting in beautiful and unique creations. Motawi tiles have been featured in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and Dwell Magazine. The gorgeous installations can be found in public places and famous spaces around the country including several libraries, educational institutions, parks, and the homes of numerous Hollywood elite.
Since 1992, the American Arab Chamber of Commerce has served the interest of the business community supporting American Arab businesses and connecting domestic businesses with international opportunities in the Arab world.