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.

Advising the Family Enterprise: One-Day Master Class

Legal, financial, business and other expert advisors are all called upon to help with the challenges families in business face through the generations. To succeed as a business and a family, business families need special help to understand and work together effectively. While each professional discipline works in its own way, an advisor must also understand the broad nature of this complex family/business/financial enterprise.

The workshop offers tools and practices for engaging and helping business families. You will:

  • Be able to advise your business family clients more holistically.
  • Develop an understanding of the complex nature of a business family.
  • Become aware of family dynamics and their effects.
  • Develop an ability to assess and communicate these challenges to the family.
  • Learn how to present and adapt your role as an advisor to help your clients learn and grow effectively.

Date: Friday, March 6, 2020

Time: 8:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. 

Location: Tata Innovation Center, Cornell Tech, 11 E Loop Rd, New York, NY 10044

The Smith Family Business Initiative at Cornell BusinessFeed

The Smith Family Business Initiative (SFBI)
March 22, 2019

Helping family businesses thrive: SFBI turns five years old

A Cornell-wide program, the Smith Family Business Initiative was founded in 2014 with a $10 million donation from John Smith, MBA ’74, and his wife, Dyan.

Office space at Entrepreneurship at Cornell
January 10, 2019

So you want to be an entrepreneur? Part 2: Spaces and initiatives

In Part 2 of this series, Donnie and Earl offer a list of co-working spaces, initiatives, events, and resources for aspiring entrepreneurs at Cornell.

Photo of women sitting around a table
October 24, 2018

Breaking gender barriers across generations

At the Cornell Family Business Roundtable, women from within the Johnson community and beyond gathered to discuss leadership and their family’s businesses.


Family Business Blog

February 19, 2020

To Help Families an Advisor Must Learn to Deal with Family Relationships and Differences

Dennis T. Jaffe, Ph.D., a Cornell Family Business Scholar, shares his insights on some of the necessary tools a family business advisor must possess. Dennis will be leading a Master Class on Advising the Family Enterprise on March 6 in New York City.  Family wealth advisors exist in several professions—law, accounting, banking and financial planning. Their … Continue reading To Help Families an Advisor Must Learn to Deal with Family Relationships and Differences

January 29, 2020

Management in Family Firms: Reflections on Research

Daniela Scur, Assistant Professor in the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University, recently delivered a lecture on “The Challenges of Family Business Research” for the Leaders in Family Enterprise class. Dayris Arias, MBA ’20, offered the following reflection based on her own experience as an entrepreneur and growing up … Continue reading Management in Family Firms: Reflections on Research

November 21, 2019

Work on Yourself, Not Those Around You.

Having toured Red Jacket Orchards and having heard Brain Nicholson ’94, speak once before in a food/CPG industry course, I was looking forward to Brian’s visit to our Leaders in Family Enterprise class.  I found myself able to relate with Brian on multiple levels as I have an entrepreneurial spirit and would love the opportunity … Continue reading Work on Yourself, Not Those Around You.