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.

NBA 5820: Leaders in Family Enterprise in Practice and Theory

This course aims to prepare students to work effectively and professionally, in, with, or for a family firm, to understand the unique characteristics of family ownership, and/or to create, launch, and manage to create cross-generational value and wealth in family firms.

Learn More

2022 Families in Business Conference

The 2022 Families in Business Conference will bring together students, alumni, and leaders from a diverse range of businesses, and the collective wisdom of leading academics and practitioners. The 8th annual conference will be offered in person on October 27 & 28 at the Statler Hotel and Conference Center.



This is an outgrowth of our
popular Sam Seltzer ’48
Mentors Forum. After two
successful in-person forums
in 2019, students and mentors alike have been asking for
more opportunities to connect.



Family Business: By the Numbers

5.5 million

family businesses in the U.S.


family businesses that are led by a female CEO or President.

24 years

average life span of a family-owned business.


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.