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Helping Family Businesses
Prosper Across Generations®

Deb Houden, Ph.D.

Deb Houden, Ph.D.

Retired Senior Consultant

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A senior consultant with The Family Business Consulting Group, Deb Houden specializes in helping family-owned businesses with family communication, transition and next generation development by providing resources, tools and knowledge that are needed to navigate their specific issues.

Deb has worked with numerous families on developing effective communication and conflict resolution skills, developing family meetings, beginning stages of board development, and working with next generational members of family firms (including adolescents). She is adept at developing processes that help families go through changes within the business and family systems.

She is a regular presenter to industry groups, family business centers, and individual company retreats on topics including the next generation and succession, communication and conflict resolution, and perceptions of fairness. 

Married into a business-owning family, Deb and her husband have three children. She is a pilot, an outdoor enthusiast, and an avid gardener.


  • Succession & Continuity
  • Conflict & Communication Management
  • Leadership & Next Generation Development

In 2015, Deb achieved Fellow status from the Family Firm Institute (FFI) for her ongoing expertise and commitment to the field of family enterprise.

Deb earned her bachelor, masters and doctorate degrees from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, specializing in interpersonal communication, conflict resolution, and perceptions of fairness within a family business. Deb is active in post-doctoral work in Bowen Family Systems Theory.  She also holds a Certificate in Family Business Advising and Family Wealth Advising from FFI.


  • Introducing Teens and Young Adults to the Family Enterprise
  • Foundations of Successful Transition: Family Governance, Culture and Communication
  • "That's Not Fair!" How to Give to Your Children Without Getting in Trouble
  • Sit in the Stink - Managing Your Emotions in Smelly Situations


  • Best Practices for Family Firm Continuity
  • Conflict Resolution and Communication in a Family Business
  • Fairness in the Family Business
  • Training and Development for the Next Generation in the Family Firm
  • How to Prepare the Child (and the Business) for their Return
  • Family Business Basics and Communication
  • Family and Business Meetings: How to Run an Effective Family and Business Meeting
  • Managing Your Emotions in Smelly Situations
  • Opportunity or Obligation? Finding your Path in (or out) of the Family Business
  • Roles and Responsibilities Among Family Members During Business Transfer
  • Career Planning for the Next Generation
  • Family Business Succession:  How to Navigate the Transitional Maze
  • Setting Up the Next Generation for Success/Preparing the Next Generation


"Your presentation was “spot on”. It was exactly what we were looking for. The information you shared gave us data on the greater long term success that family businesses enjoy and the importance of bringing the young people into the company and working with them to ensure perpetuation.  I have received a number of complementary comments from our owners and staff about your presentation. As always, you do a fabulous job. Thank you so much for all of the special efforts you make for us. It is appreciated!"

Mary Jo Spiekerman, SPHR
Vice President of Human Resources
Hausmann-Johnson Insurance

8770 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., Ste 1340W, Chicago, IL 60631
P: 773.604.5005 E: 

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