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.

Connect. Learn. Engage.

eCornell Family Business Leadership Certificate Program

This instructor-led Cornell Certificate Program will provide professionals with the skills to navigate the complexities of family business. Created by both practitioners and academics, this program will equip professionals with new tools and strategies to lead a thriving family business. You will receive the Family Business Leadership Certificate from Cornell University’s SC Johnson College of Business and 40 Professional Development Hours (4 CEUs).

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Interested in connecting with a Mentor? Check out the Cornell Family Business Mentorscape. This is an outgrowth of our popular Sam Seltzer ’48 Mentors Forum and provides year-round access to our slate of mentors. The SFBI has created this mentors’ platform to connect our Cornell students and recent alumni with the vast expertise within the SFBI network.

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Peer Leadership Forums

The Cornell Peer Leadership Forums combine the expertise of our Cornell Family Business Fellows, access to Cornell faculty, and our extensive Smith Family Business Initiative global network. Forums will be carefully curated and formed. Each forum will be unique to its constituent members, and areas of growth and exploration will be driven by the members.


Upcoming Events

Monday, June 17, 2024


Tuesday, June 18, 2024


Wednesday, June 19, 2024


Featured News and Stories

upper body shot of Andrew Foley standing on a balcony with trees and buildings in the background.
June 4, 2024

Research at the Crossroads of Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Network Theory

PhD Spotlight: Johnson School PhD candidate Andrew Foley talks about his research on family business and entrepreneurship.

people gathered around a table lit up with large video screen display.
April 22, 2024

From Cheese to Fashion: Exploring the Family Businesses of Italy

EMBA Americas student Brandon Jernigan recounts his experience in the 2024 Family Businesses in Italy Trek.

Four female students in a classroom.
April 18, 2024

One Team’s Journey in the 2024 Cornell Case Competition for Family Ownership

Graduate students Rebecca Shao, MPS ’24, Mia Huang, PhD '25 and Vanessa Wang, MPS ’24, faced challenge and triumph at the Cornell Case Competition for Family Business

Family Business: By the Numbers

  • 5.5 million family businesses in the U.S.
  • 24% family businesses that are led by a female CEO or President.
  • 24 years average life span of a family-owned business.
  • 77% new business ventures established in the U.S. founded with significant involvement of the family.

Further Readings

Take a look at news, recaps, and highlights on our Family Business Blog.