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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Cornell Case Competition

The Cornell Case Competition for Family Ownership offers current graduate students a unique opportunity to examine a family enterprise case up close, alongside the family themselves. Take the collaborative elements of a hack-a-thon, combine the analytical elements of a case competition, and include the top MBA students in the world and you have the Cornell Case Competition for Family Ownership.

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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.



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.


Take a look at blogs, news, recaps, and more created by and for the Smith Family Business Initiative.