Family & Privately-Held Business

Seattle University Extraordinary Leaders Forum (ExL)

The Seattle University Extraordinary Leaders (ExL) group offers an invigorating forum for owners and leaders of family and closely-held businesses to grow and expand their businesses and their leadership skills. The monthly peer advisory group, facilitated by a professional executive coach and consultant with a proven track record, meets monthly and operates as a cohesive, supportive cohort. The group is a great fit for executives or owners of local family- or closely-held businesses (FPHBs) who are committed to becoming extraordinary leaders and using entrepreneurial skills and innovation principles to tackle their biggest challenges.

ExL Forum Features:  

  • Monthly peer support and networking among like-spirited, highly-motivated business owners & executives.
  • Monthly business analysis and group accountability sessions ("deep dive" boot camps).
  • Monthly guest speakers who are successful, proven business leaders or subject matter experts.
  • Access to local mentors, experts, and resources in a variety of disciplines.
  • Optional coaching/consulting services with a professional executive coach/consultant.
  • Access to Seattle University's Family Business Exchange research program, community, and events (family business owners only).
  • Networking events, happy hours, activities, professional development, and field trips among peers & local businesses.
  • Holiday celebration and invitations to Seattle University & Albers events & activities.
  • Complimentary meals and parking.
  • A portion of the annual fees are tax-deductible contributions to Seattle University.

Benefits to Members  

  • Lead More Confidently - Run your ideas & issues by a personal, peer "sounding board" and professional coach/consultant.
  • Master Implementation - Learn to execute flawlessly and be held accountable by your ExL Forum team.
  • Build Your Business - Learn and apply new tools and skills in key business & leadership areas.
  • Make Connections/Build Your Tribe - Make friends, networking, and resource connections; join the Family Business Exchange community.
  • Gain More Perspective - Spend focused time working on your business rather than in it.  Get different views from other business owners.
  • Access More Resources - Tap into Seattle U's deep resources, including students for interns & projects.

Group Format: One Friday each month, 10am - 2pm, Seattle University's campus, with occasional open lunch for friends & guests and optional 8-10am "deep dive" boot camp.

Fees: Special multi-member discounts. Contact Randy Massengale at for details.

Family Business Exchange

The Family Business Exchange gathers transgenerational family leaders together to engage in honest dialogue and learning in support of development, growth and legacy creation. To keep this community vibrant and healthy, we commit to providing educational and networking opportunities and in return, welcome member experiences and contributions. The community prides itself on offering family business leaders opportunities to:

Engage with community and in research

  • Networking and idea exchange with our community members
  • Participation in research surveys
  • Case study development (if appropriate)

Learn from each other and faculty

  • Educational workshops
  • Practical research results published in an actionable format
  • Access to Albers faculty

Share in a trusted environment

  • Collaborate about concerns
  • Share best practices and experiences

The value of the Family Business Exchange increases as members from all types of businesses enter the conversation and become active members of our community.
Commitment to participate

Time is the most valuable asset when running a family business. Therefore, the commitment to participate is limited.

To meet our goal of assisting family businesses, we strive to gather a select number of families together twice per year to:

  • Fall/Winter: Network and hear from family business leaders who have faced challenges and found success.
  • Spring/Summer: Network and allow us to share our research with you. Actionable takeaways are provided to help you develop your business plans.

To meet our goal of advancing research, we ask participating families to:

  • Complete a survey once per year (approximately 1-2 hour commitment)
  • Participate in case study research examining specific aspects of family business

Family Business-Related Research

Dr. Holly Slay is currently on the faculty of the Albers School of Business and Economics at Seattle University. She received her PhD in Organizational Behavior from the University of Maryland's Smith School of Business in 2006. Her current research seeks to the emotional and identity dynamics associated with family business succession. To this end, she has interviewed the prominent players in six family businesses to better understand their successions processes and how they measure success. The research uses a case study methodology and semi-structured interviews to provide for in-depth analysis of each company as well as analysis of the similarities and differences between companies. The preliminary study offers interesting insights for families and practitioners who support families. However, the ultimate goal of the research is to include more family businesses over a longer period of time and build and/or extend existing research on family business succession.

Family & Privately-Held Business Management Courses

Seattle University currently offers a popular Family Owned Business class for graduate students. 

Please explore the above links to learn more about the Family and Privately-Held Business Program's many offerings and opportunities or contact us at