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 6720: Managing Family and Privately Held Firms

This course explores the challenges and opportunities created by family leadership and ownership. Students will be equipped with a framework for analyzing how family ownership, control, and management affect value, and whether and how more value can be created for the various stakeholders.

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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.



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.