The Smith Family Business Initiative at Cornell is dedicated to supporting and strengthening the network of owners, leaders, and alumni that work in, with or for a family business.

Founded in 2014 from a generous gift from John and Dyan Smith, the Smith Family Business Initiative provides education, networking and new knowledge for family business owners, successors, and students from across the globe.

Connected Conversations: Exploring Family Firms in Africa

Wednesday, February 10 from 12pm – 1pm EDT

Tsitsi Mutendi and Nike Anandi Families in Business Conference

Nike Anani and Tsitsi Mutendi met on LinkedIn in summer 2019 and soon discovered their mutual interest in family firms as well as African business. Soon after, they decided to launch African Family Firms, a community of like-minded peers dedicated to building multigenerational family businesses, that would promote generational wealth and generational legacies on the continent. AFF organizes exclusive, by-invitation-only events, summits, and roundtables across different African cities. Our conversation with Nike and Tsitsi will explore many of these family businesses in Africa, what we know about them, and what we still hope to learn.

The Smith Family Business Initiative at Cornell BusinessFeed

A large group poses for a photo in a reception space
April 28, 2020

Knowledge into action: Preparing the next generation of family business leaders

The Smith Family Business Initiative (SFBI) understands family business—how it operates, what makes it unique, and the impact it has on the global economy.

Fisk Johnson in a diving suit above water holding plastic waste in the ocean
March 23, 2020

Fisk Johnson, CEO of SC Johnson: A champion in the crusade against plastic ocean waste

SC Johnson CEO Fisk Johnson talks about why ending plastic ocean waste is important to him, his company, and human life on this planet.

Christina Keller portrait
February 25, 2020

Profile in Leadership: Christina Keller, MBA ’07, president and CEO at Cascade Engineering

Christina Keller, CEO and president of Cascade Engineering, upholds and updates a family tradition of do-good capitalism.


Family Business Blog

December 28, 2020

A Letter to My Family (Business)

A student in the Leaders in Family Enterprise class took the opportunity of reflecting on the numerous speakers and ideas presented throughout the semester to compose this letter to the members of their family business in the hopes of sparking a meaningful conversation about their future together. This is what that student shared. Dearest Family, … Continue reading A Letter to My Family (Business)

December 3, 2020

No more “muddling through.”

In the Cornell class, Leaders in Family Enterprise, students are asked to capture their reflections based on weekly readings and our many guest speakers. From time to time, students reveal their own progress and learning in many inspiring ways. We have kept the identity of this student anonymous. In class so far, I have really … Continue reading No more “muddling through.”

November 17, 2020

Silver Linings

Was I deceiv’d, or did a sable cloudTurn forth her silver lining on the night? John Morton