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Meet Rebecca Contreras of AvantGarde

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rebecca Contreras.

Hi Rebecca, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
My professional career began in state government through a welfare to work program I enrolled in 1989. My first boss was Ann Richards who was the Treasurer at that time. I grew professionally through my state government career and served two other state officials after Ms. Richards, then State Treasurer Kay Bailey Hutchinson and lastly Governor George W. Bush. Most of my professional growth and training happened under Kay and Governor Bush. I don’t have a formal degree but throughout my career growth, I attended several courses to advance my knowledge and learning in HR including courses at the LBJ School of Public Affairs where I took a certification course in Human Resources. Then I attended the Governors Executive Development Program where I cut my teeth in senior management training and development. I worked my way up in state government to become the Director of Human Resources for Governor Bush. Then he ran for President, and he asked me to join his Washington DC team on the Presidential Transition in 2001 where I served as a Commissioned Officer for the President leading Presidential Personnel Boards & Commission appointments. My portfolio was staffing over 1,200 p/t boards and commissions in the federal government for the President. Then later in 2003, he appointed me to serve as corporate head of HR for the Department of US Treasury, in that role I was in charge of Corporate HR for a workforce of about 120,000 employees. My career has mostly been in the HR and Organizational Development.

Then in 2011, I decided to take all the expertise I had learned in my 16 yrs government career and after spending 6 yrs prior with a small DC based consulting firm decided to start my own company AvantGarde a consulting firm now 100+ employees strong, our consulting firm focuses around supporting clients in four key areas: People (HR), Process, Strategy and Technology. Now as a women business owner and entrepreneur, I have the privilege of being a part of one of the fastest growing demographics in Texas, women owning their own businesses. See full bio on www.rebeccacontreras.com

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
My husband David and I grew up fatherless, so the nuclear family is of the greatest importance.

I am from El Paso a border town, was raised in extreme poverty and lived the early portion of my childhood in government housing. Poverty for me was threefold, emotional poverty, physical poverty, spiritual poverty. My childhood consistent of living with a drug addict single mom who was plagued with issues in her own life of addiction and mental illness and she ended up abandoning us when I was five years ago, then later came back and rehabbed then I went to live with her again at age nine and she moved us to Austin to live in the inner city then which was East Austin. I ended up dropping out of high school when I got pregnant as a teen mom (junior in high school), getting involved in drugs and going down a spiral of bad decisions until I had a major transformation of self.

I talk extensively about my journey in LostGirl my new book where I peel back the curtain to showcase my raw dysfunction in life and then my transformation. Three key factors served in my transformation God, People (mentors) and self-ownership and accountability but also finding the drive and tenacity to change and do something different for me and my young daughter. I didn’t want to become an inner city statistic or perpetuate the addiction and failure cycle of what I saw and experienced growing up in my own h9ome.

David and I both have similar backgrounds and we have a deep understanding of how a person can either allow unsettling circumstances to limit or dictate destructive thinking or move the needle bit by bit to make sustainable changes towards a greater goal. One momentous experience was uprooting our young family to Washington, DC without knowing where to live and without any family or support. Our Sept 11, 2001 experience was an indication and marker of our love, faith, unity and resolve as a family. David and I were both working in D.C on that dreadful day. Like with most families outside interferences are beyond our control so for us the focus has always been and still is, family always comes first! My entire story, journey to DC and service to President Bush is shared in great detail in LostGirl.

Probably my biggest struggle was dealing with the dysfunction my past brought it, it bled into every area of my life until I chose to deal with it HEAD on…. also as a dropout with challenges in learning, I have had to work extra hard in the advancement of my knowledge and learning. I talk about my journey in Lost Girl at length. Overall I am an overcomer and have worked really hard to move forward and get around the right people to mentor me and help me. I am a product of my good strong relationships that believed in me early on and over the years have served to give me great opportunities.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about AvantGarde LLC?
AvantGarde, LLC (AG) provides a unique set of integrated services in Human Capital Management, with core capabilities and agile solutions that holistically address business challenges through Human Capital Consulting, Human Resource Operations, Strategic Advisory, and Program Management. AG’s consulting team has served federal agencies since 2011 and executed more than 120 federal contracts. Over the years, we have successfully supported our clients in addressing their most critical needs by bringing our knowledge and expertise in a suite of human capital areas, including talent management, training and development, strategic planning, organizational assessment, and change management. Because we are known for delivering results, more than 80% of our growth and work is client referral-based. Furthermore, our motto “Client First, People Always” reflects our company values that drive engagement, innovation, and strong partnerships.

We love surprises, fun facts and unexpected stories. Is there something you can share that might surprise us?
Our DNA centers around loving and supporting our people. Our motto is “People First, Client Always”… we hire good people, we invest in them and we love them. I call it “leading with love” first. As the CEO, this is critically important in our leadership DNA and it starts at the top with me.

Contact Info:

  • Email: lostgirl@rebeccacontreras.com
  • Website: www.rebeccacontreras.com
  • Instagram: @Rebeccaanncontreras
  • Facebook: @rebeccaanncontreras


Image Credits

Viking Studios

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