St. John Fisher University is expanding its family business initiatives, launching a Women in Family Business program this fall.
The program – designed to aid in the growth of female family business leaders – will kick-off with a women’s wine dinner aimed at bringing together women who have a role in their family firms.
The dinner will take place at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 14, in the Wilson Formal Lounge located in Haffey Hall on Fisher’s campus.
Meaghan Frank, vice president and fourth-generation owner of the Dr. Frank Winery on Keuka Lake, will be the guest of honor at the dinner.
Frank uses her platform in the family business to honor the generations of women who precede her as part of a wine series called The Helm. Dr. Frank’s The Helm will be paired with a three-course dinner for the occasion.
Teagan White, director of onboarding and community engagement at JN White and chair of the Women in Family Business committee at Fisher, said the dinner is an opportunity to create a program that focuses on networking, educational content and mentorship, all which aid in the growth of female family business leaders.
White explained that the inaugural dinner will be a multisensory event, with Frank sharing stories of her family and showing photos. Attendees will also taste each wine and hear about how each one is crafted.
“Our hope is this will lend to thinking about other women in family-owned businesses and how they played, or still play, a key role in the success of the company,” she said, adding this is an event that will be attended by women in various stages of their professions with a wide range of experiences.
Teagan envisions the women’s program will meet a few times a year and will serve as a resource and networking opportunity for women who face unique challenges in leadership roles traditionally held by men.
White, a 2019 graduate of Fisher, knows family business well. Her father, Randy White, is president and CEO of JN White, a manufacturer of membrane switches, membrane overlays, graphic overlays and custom labels in Perry, Wyoming County.
Randy White, who also graduated from Fisher, heads the school’s family business initiative’s steering committee.
The committee is comprised of family business owners from a range of industries within the Rochester region as well as leadership from within the School of Business at Fisher.
Other steering committee members include Carmelo Calascibetta of Cam’s Pizza, Wayne Holly of Sage Rutty Co., and Peter Messner, Messner Company.
In addition to the Women in Business program, Fisher’s business school began rolling out opportunities related to family businesses this summer and will continue in the fall. They include a Family Business Camp, a Next Generation Leadership Program and governance programs.
Those attending the family business programs can learn about topics including transition planning, family risk analysis and educating the next generation of family members.
Most businesses today are family businesses, said Carol Wittmeyer, interim dean of the School of Business, who heads the family business initiative.
Family businesses – whether they are run by a family member, or the family members have a majority ownership in the business – are a critical component of local, regional and global economies, she said, noting that such businesses have unique opportunities and challenges.
“It’s a dynamic system” Wittmeyer said, noting that attention needs to be paid to each shareholder in the business to help ensure long-term success.
The family business programs at Fisher serve several purposes including providing education to the next generation of family business leaders and offering a place where they can talk to others in similar situations, Wittmeyer said.
Tickets to the Women in Family Business wine dinner are $90 per person (age 21 and older) and can be purchased online through Wednesday, Aug. 24.
A portion of event proceeds will be donated to the World Central Kitchen, which has served millions of meals to Ukrainians this year.
Go to Women’s Wine Dinner Tickets, Wed, Sep 14, 2022 at 5:30 PM | Eventbrite to register.
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