Wisconsin Family Business
Forum Structure

A Board made up of representatives of all partners provides direction and governance for the Forum.Board members are chosen by their peers and play an active role in the policy, program and personnel decisions of the Forum. The Board is led by the Director and is composed of an equal number of family business and sponsor organizations. Each family business and sponsor organization represented on the Board has a vote.


Sponsorship of the Forum is limited to a predetermined number of professional service organizations. Each organization is chosen by the Board for its specific area of business expertise and its vision for and experience with family businesses. Each sponsor is granted exclusivity in its business category.

Sponsors agree to actively participate in the Forum and to support the Forum with both financial and technical expertise.

Sponsors may send representatives to Forum events and have access to the Forum resource center.


  • provide professional services to family businesses
  • have expertise on family business issues
  • interact with family business members to share expertise and enhance understanding of family businesses
  • provide programs and resources specific to the needs and interests of family businesses
  • gain additional family business knowledge to better serve family businesses

University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, College of Business Administration:

  • provides administrative functions for the Forum
  • provides a family business resource center
  • pursues research on family business issues to support the center and provide timely, quality programs
  • enhances its curriculum to better meet the needs of family business members and future entrepreneurs


  • provide financial support
  • have a mission and vision to support family businesses and their role in the marketplace.


Susan M. Schierstedt is the Director of the Wisconsin Family Business Forum. She has a B.S. in Education from Northwestern University, Illinois, and an M.B.A. from UW Oshkosh, College of Business Administration. From 1984 to 1992 Schierstedt was Associate Director of the Richard W. Koehn Institute for Information Systems and Automation at UW Oshkosh. Prior to joining the Wisconsin Family Business Forum, Schierstedt was Administrative Officer for the Management Institute at UW-Madison's School of Business. Both organizations provided outreach programs and services to businesses, regionally and internationally, respectively.

Schierstedt had early experience with the unique problems of family businesses. She grew up playing alongside her grandfather in a business she expected to take over someday. Having experienced the failure of the business due to the inability of her father and grandfather to agree on long-term strategies, Schierstedt knows the importance of family dynamics and communications for the success of a family business.

Contact Susan Schierstedt via e-mail at schierss@uwosh.edu.

Program Assistant:

Ann Stein is the program assistant for the Forum, providing marketing and operational support.  She joined the Forum staff in May, 2001. Ann brings expertise in the area of mental health counseling and business ownership/management.

Ann is an integral part of the Forum team. One of her major responsibilities is managing program logistics and registrations. Members have come to know Ann as a customer-focused resource upon whom they can rely for timely and accurate information.

If you would like information about the Forum or any of our programs, please contact Ann Stein at steina@uwosh.edu.

Faculty Liaison:

Dr. C. Burk Tower is the Forum's faculty liaison and publishes in the area of family business management. Burk is a faculty member in the Management and Human Resources Team in the College of Business Administration at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. He focuses on Marketing and Entrepreneurship. Dr. Tower also leads the Young Entrepreneurial Scholars (YES) composed of college students interested in starting their own businesses.

Burk worked closely with Craig Smith from Retained Earnings Company/MassMutual, the Dean, regional family business professionals, and family business owners to design and develop the Forum. Burk serves on the Forum's committees and as an ex officio member of the Board. He works closely with the Director and the Board to ensure that the Forum is a valuable resource for the region.

Contact Dr. Burk Tower at tower@uwosh.edu

Last updated