Los Angeles banker Maria Contreras-Sweet has been confirmed as the new head of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The Senate approved Contreras-Sweet's appointment Thursday, a little more than two months after President Obama nominated her to head the cabinet-level agency.

Contreras-Sweet fills a role that had been vacated by Karen Mills, who stepped down from the post in August. Marianne O'Brien Markowitz has served as the acting administrator since mid-February.

Contreras-Sweet has most recently served as chair of the $152 million-asset ProAmérica Bank, which she founded in 2006 primarily to serve small and mid-size Latino businesses in the Los Angeles area. She also is a former head of California's Department of Business, Transportation and Housing.

Her nomination was confirmed by a voice vote after it was unanimously approved by the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship in early March.

"Small Business will have a strong advocate in Administrator Contreras-Sweet, a leader with her finger on the pulse of small-business lending," Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., the committee's chairwoman, said in a speech on the Senate floor Thursday. "I look forward to working with her in this critical role for our economy."

The Independent Community Bankers of America also cheered the nomination.

Contreras-Sweet "is a passionate champion of small businesses," said ICBA President and Chief Executive Camden Fine in a press release. "She will be an excellent SBA administrator."

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