Helping Family Businesses
Prosper Across Generations®


pendergast_200x300Jennifer Pendergast, Ph.D.

Former Senior Consultant

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A former senior consultant of The Family Business Consulting Group, Jennifer is an experienced management consultant with an extensive background in the many strategic challenges faced by family firms serving a broad range of clients, ranging from startup to Fortune 500 companies, in both for-profit and non-profit arenas.

Jennifer’s presentations, consultations and publications concentrate on strategic planning and business growth, developing and managing family councils and ownership groups, structuring and improving the effectiveness of boards of directors, planning for ownership and leadership succession and creating and managing family offices. Her research on corporate governance and top management leadership issues has been published in a number of academic journals, including European Management Journal and Strategic Management Journal. She completed research on the impact of board structure and composition on corporate performance for her doctoral dissertation.

She specializes in advising large multi-business family enterprises on strategy and governance.  Examples of work in this area include restructuring the board of a 4th generation family agriculture business that had moved into real estate development, creating a shareholder council at the holding company level to educate and gather input from 3rd  generation shareholders of a multi-billion dollar manufacturing business, facilitating family council meetings that served as a decision-making forum for shareholders of one of the largest family holding companies in the US, and conducting a benchmarking study, funded by a Mexico-based family enterprise, to evaluate the governance best practices of successful global family holding companies.

Prior to entering the field of family business, Jennifer served as a professor at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, Georgia Tech and The Wharton Business School. She also worked as a consultant for McKinsey & Company, an investment banker for a Wall Street firm and in the family office of one of the largest family entities in the U.S.  

She is the author of numerous books and articles, two of her standout titles are: Family Business Succession: Your Roadmap to Continuity co-authored with Kelly LeCouvie and Building a Successful Family Business Board, which she wrote with John Ward and Stephanie Brun de Pontet.

Jennifer is married, the mother of twins and resides in Atlanta.


  • Strategic Planning
  • Succession & Continuity Planning
  • Family & Corporate Governance
  • Family Office Structure
  • Facilitation

Jennifer received her Ph.D. in Management from Wharton Business School and holds a B.S. in Finance from University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce.

Family Business Advisor Articles:

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Family Business Boardroom Articles:

Blog Posts:

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Other Publications:

Building_a_Successful_BoardBuilding a Successful Family Business Board: A Guide for Leaders, Directors, and Families
In Building a Successful Family Business Board , the authors show why private firms need the in-depth expertise and objective feedback that a well-chosen board, including qualified independent directors, can provide, and demonstrates how owners and directors can work together to ensure a long and profitable life for the firm.

FB_SuccessionFamily Business Succession: Your Roadmap to Continuity
Drawing on original research, case studies, and white papers, this book offers a comprehensive look at family business continuity planning, which is critical to the success of every family business.


A_womans_place_A Woman's Place: The Crucial Roles of Women in Family Business
Through stories and interviews the authors explore the changing role women play in today's family business, looking at how to encourage and support women family members, to the challenges women face in finding the right balance between work and life, to the role spouses play in couples that work together.

book1Healthy Growth for the Family Business
 Healthy growth is critical to the future of any business - too many rash decisions can lead to the demise of a family business. Author Jennifer Pendergast provides readers with practical knowledge to help determine whether to grow, what type of growth is healthy and sustainable and what the future potential is for any business.


  • The Chair Forum: Essential Conversations for Family Business Board Leaders


  • Developing Your Board of Directors for Maximum Impact
  • Demystifying the Family Office:  What is a Family Office and Do I Need One?
  • Trust Design - How Best to Give Family a Voice
  • The Critical First Step in Family Business Succession: Shared Vision
  • Board Engagement: Maximizing Value from Family and Independent Directors


  • Family Constitution or Family Charter: The Foundation for Family Success
  • Ownership Transition: Beyond the Legal Framework
  • Board Succession and Board Evolution: Planning for the Future of Governance
  • Advising Family Companies Around the World: Survival of the Fittest?

"Jennifer's presentation was very helpful to our clients in understanding how to put a strategic planning process in place. She engaged the audience in a healthy discussion on the key success factors for strategic planning."

Howard Neiman
Babush, Neiman, Kornman and Johnson

"I have use Jennifer on several occasions and in the five plus years that I was director of the University of Alabama Family Business Forum, I felt she was the best speaker our program used. She spoke to our group on matters of developing a board, conducting an audit of your family business and governance. Each time she spoke she did a wonderful job. She has a casual delivery style, is very personable but is highly knowledgeable. I highly recommend her for your program."

Paavo Hanninen
Former Director
University of Alabama Family Business Forum

"We have been pleased to work with Jennifer Pendergast on several projects…Jennifer is quick to grasp the situation, articulate in communicating to all the stakeholders, and provides prompt and thorough follow through. We have no hesitation in recommending her to other families."

Galen Oelkers
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