Resources and support for family businesses

The Family Business Forum is a professional-development program for executives of family businesses in Wisconsin.

Gail McNutt, who also serves as a facilitator and executive coach for the Center for Exceptional Leadership (CEL), is the lead facilitator for this program; she is supported by an expert team of leadership and business professionals and faculty. Together, they provide participants the opportunity to explore timely topics and discuss real-world challenges and opportunities within a select cohort of their peers. Meeting several times each year, the forum features speakers on a variety of topics of relevance to family-owned businesses.

Business owners, family members, nonfamily employees and business professionals are invited to explore the challenges and rewards of family enterprise and to grow in their knowledge, skills and experience.

Goals of the forum

  • Serve as a self-sustaining organization for the collection and dissemination of information relevant to family businesses.
  • Build relationships among family businesses, professional organizations interested in assisting family business and St. Norbert College.
  • Provide opportunities for family business members to interact with members of other family businesses.


Membership rates, running from Sept. 1 through Aug. 31, are tiered based on the number of employees in an organization. Costs are waived for the 2020-21 membership year.

Number of employees Cost
1-9 $500
10-19 $1,000
20-49 $1,500
50-249 $2,000
250+ $2,500

Affinity groups: $2,000 annually per participant.

Membership benefits

Member meetings
The Family Business Forum meets six times per year for two-hour facilitated sessions featuring subject-matter experts on topics relevant to family-run businesses. Each session’s topic will be selected by participants and customized to meet the needs of the group.

Areas of focus may include leadership and business topics such as:

  • Creating accountability
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Coaching and developing others
  • Succession planning
  • Vision and strategic thinking
  • Process and management Marketing

Participants may invite up to five members of their family-owned businesses to these meetings, which provide ample opportunities for networking with other professionals.

Affinity groups
Members have the option to join a group of up to 15 non-competing peers who are interested in growing and developing in a confidential setting. Through a series of six half-day meetings each year, group members learn from each other and from external resources. Topics for exploration include family dynamics, leading through change, working with a board of advisors and more.

Discounts on St. Norbert College programming
Family Business Forum members receive discounts on other St. Norbert College Schneider School of Business & Economics programs. These offerings include executive coaching and assessment through the Center for Exceptional Leadership (CEL), as well as enrollment in the CEL’s Executive Leader, Senior Leader and Foundational Leader cohort-based leadership development programs.

Join the forum

Business leaders interested in joining the Family Business Forum should contact Dean Stewart at dean.stewart@snc.edu or 920-403-3406.

  • Family business leader

    Family Business Forum Strategy Series

    Family Business Forum members receive access to a bi-weekly webinar series featuring expert speakers on a range of topics relevant to leaders of family businesses. Past topics have included:

    • Business cash flow solutions for coping with COVID-19 presented by Rick Hearden and Tim Valentyn of First Business Bank
    • Navigating family relationships during times of crisis presented by Carol Bruess, Ph.D., professor emerita of communication and journalism and formerly director of family studies at the University of St. Thomas

  • quotes “Participating as a sponsor of the Family Business Forum allowed me to gain a better understanding of the dynamics of family business and build trusting relationships. Family business challenges are unique and I learned as much from the members as they did from me.”

    Diane Roundy, Baker Tilly Executive Search
    Photo of Diane Roundy
background-logo Join our Family Business Forum mailing list