About the Author: Fulfilling My Dreams

By Rebecca Contreras

If there was ever a perfect storm for a life poised for hardship and steeped with trauma, it was the childhood I lived through.

I was born to a single mother battling drug addiction and mental illness, whose abandonment of her children was heartbreakingly a regular occurrence. I lived in abusive and poverty-stricken homes for most of my early childhood years; if not for the intervention of my grandmother, I would have ended up in the foster care system. As a teenager I desperately searched for a sense of self-worth in all the wrong places. These are the elements that produce a vicious cycle of chronic adversity, generation after generation. And I was well on my way to perpetuating that cycle by age 17 – as a high school dropout and welfare-dependent teen mother with a prison-bound drug dealer boyfriend.

Fortunately, however, I was able to break the cycle instead of allowing the cycle to break me.

Using a combination of grit and faith – and by recognizing the right opportunities and the right people to guide me – I took control of my future and put myself on the path to success. This led to me entering a welfare-to-work program for the late Governor Ann Richards in the Texas state government and eventually climbing the political ladder with President George W. Bush, working alongside him at the White House. Now, as an entrepreneur and the CEO of my own thriving business as well as an organization to help disadvantaged youth, I can look back on that path and take pride in my strong work ethic and determination to fulfill my dreams.

Of course, the path wasn’t always clear to me, and was far from easy, but I learned any challenge or failure I encountered could either be seen as a roadblock to prevent me from reaching my goals, or as a bump in the road to overcome. I chose – and still choose – to see the latter.

My book, Lost Girl, is the story of my path. I wrote it to show how hope can still be found in even the most seemingly hopeless situations. No one expected this Texas border town girl living in destitution and neglect to grow up to become a self-made millionaire. However, I didn’t do it alone, and no one should be expected to. My resolution is what helped me get back up when I fell (or when I was pushed down), and I took a helping hand when offered. I am now in a position to offer a helping hand, and my hope is that my journey can be an inspiration to others.

Rebecca Contreras is the President & CEO of AvantGarde LLC, a minority-and woman-owned consulting firm she co-founded in May 2011. AvantGarde offers a “one-stop-shop” approach to addressing complex organizational, people, and technology needs. She has dedicated her entire career to the people business, serving in executive leadership roles driving large-scale people and organizational change initiatives. She spent 12 years serving under the leadership of Texas Governor – and then-President George W Bush. She has also received several awards and recognitions, including most recently the Silver American Business Award for Minority Business of the year (2021), “Women in Enterprise” (Women Enterprising Magazine, 2020), “Women 2 Watch for 2020” (Women President’s Organization), Texas “Women Profiles in Power” (Austin Business Journal, 2017), and the “Latina Entrepreneurial Excellence Award” (2017). To learn more about her recently authored book Lost Girl, visit www.rebeccacontreras.com.
4 Comments
  • David

    Lost Girl is an inspirational story and a testament to a life not willing to accept her natural born circumstances. Her story demonstrates that a desire to change the trajectory of a life lived below ground-zero is achievable with a plan and strategic people to help guide. It’s incredible to read how she climbed to the heights of her sensational success. Great read

  • David

    Lost Girl is an inspirational story and a testament to a life not willing to accept her natural born circumstances. Her story demonstrates that a desire to change the trajectory of a life lived below ground-zero is achievable with a plan and strategic people to help guide. It’s incredible to read how she climbed to the heights of her sensational success.

  • David

    Rebecca’s inspirational story is a testament to a life not willing to accept her natural born circumstances. Her story demonstrates that a desire to change the trajectory of a life lived below ground-zero is achievable with a plan and strategic people to help guide. It’s incredible to read how she climbed to the heights of her sensational success.

  • Cathy Hernandez

    Rebecca has written an inspiring story that is bound to touch countless lives for years to come. She defeated the odds when so much was stacked against her. To this day, her tenacious spirit shines. It’s enlightening to see a positive Latina role model for our current and next generation leaders. Wonderful story!

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