FFI at 25: Reflections from the Founding Members

Read one of FFI’s founders, Relative Solutions’ own Fredda Herz Brown’s views of the family enterprise field over the last 25 years.


In the early 1980’s, Barbara Hollander began envisioning an institute of professionals, family business owners, and academics who would be joined together by their dedication to advancing the then unknown field of family enterprise. A few years later, in 1984, Barbara attracted other colleagues to join her in establishing the Family Firm Institute.

In 1986, FFI was officially incorporated with a distinguished group of founding members that included Jeffrey Barach, Fredda Herz Brown, Rod Correll, Nancy Drozdow, Gibb Dyer, Tom Hubler, Amy Lyman, Ruth McClendon, John Messervey, Edith Perrow, Ernesto Poza, Mathilde Salganicoff, Steve Swartz, John Ward, and Kathy Wiseman.

These pioneering leaders anticipated that the success of family businesses in the future would rely upon integrated knowledge, advanced skills, and more professional advisory services. They began building a foundation that would chart an evolutionary course for FFI as the most trusted resource for exemplary interdisciplinary education, research, and collaboration in the family enterprise field.

Their unwavering focus on FFI’s mission then continues to guide the priorities of FFI today, 25 years later:

    •   Convene a wide spectrum of individuals working in the field to engender a global perspective on best practices, interdisciplinary education, and specialized expertise
    • Develop local iterations of the organization through regional chapters and study groups to promote grassroots peer-to-peer relationships
    • Engender a culture of scholarship and innovation-particularly through a professional journal, Family Business Review
    • Produce distinctive and thought-provoking conferences that advance innovations in the field

In 2011, FFI’s annual international conference is widely recognized as the preeminent family enterprise event. FBR remains the premiere scholarly journal in the field. FFI’s expanding educational programs have attracted new collaborators as some 361 members to date have earned one, or both, FFI certificates. ffi.org is now a global information resource offering the next generation in family enterprise connectivity. And the unique interdisciplinary profile of the FFI membership remains one of the organization’s core strengths.