PDFB Psychodynamics of Family Business

PDFB 2015:  The conference will take place from Friday afternoon, May 1st through Sunday mid-day, May 3rd at the Hotel Orrington (Hilton) in Evanston, IL (north of chicago).  There is confusion because there was an expectation that the meeting would be the last week in April; however, the hotel had already been taken by other groups, so we are committed again to the first weekend in May.   

For information purposes, this is the program info for 2014:

This is going to be a very exciting year for PDFB, as it is our 20th meeting celebration.  We are delighted to announce that Dennis Jaffe has agreed to be our keynote presenter. The title of his presentation is “Living in the Past or Designing for the Future? Resilience and Adaptation as the Major Challenges Facing Family Enterprise”.  This will provide an excellent foundation and kickoff for our meeting, the theme of which is “Change: Principles and Practices”.

We encourage you to take the next step by registering for this special meeting, which will take place Friday, May 2 – Sunday, May 4, 2014 at the Orrington Hotel in Evanston, Illinois.   



The PDFB 19 Program Committee


Lilli Friedland, Andrew Hier, Kathleen Hoye, Jeff Rossman, Marilyn Rumsey, Paul Sessions, David Tate (chair)









PDFB 20 Presentations



Title and Description


Dennis Jaffe

Living in the Past or Designing for the Future? Resilience and Adaptation as the Major Challenges Facing Family Enterprise.” In this keynote presentation, Dennis will describe a model of change in family enterprise systems--from denial, to resistance, to exploration, and then to commitment. He will also explore internal vs. external drivers of change and how the family has to develop a roadmap to create their future.


5 - 7pm

Kathleen Hoye & David Tate

“Theories of Change: An Overview.”This session will provide a high-level overview of theories of change from the worlds of business and behavioral sciences, noting places where they overlap and how they are distinct. Participants will share which theories they have been most influenced by and use most in their work.    


8 - 9:30am

Barry Graff

“Succession Planning: Transformational Change?”Using the Corleone family as a case example, we will explore whether transformational change can or should occur as a result of succession planning. We will focus on participant generated cases where client and/or consultant were seeking or avoiding transformational change.


9:45 – 11:15am

Ellen Frankenberg

“Mapping Our Futures, Part I: Retirement Transitions”A discussion with all participants with focused questions about planning for our own succession or retirement transitions.




Dean Fowler et al.

“Mapping Our Futures, Part II: Strategic Planning for PDFB.”**In this planning session, we will discuss critical questions, challenges and opportunities concerning the future of PDFB.



Lilli Friedand

“Psycho-Social Factors Affecting Family Business Decisions.”The presenter will engage the group to examine fundamental questions about change: What do we mean by change? What factors contribute to constructive or destructive change? What changes do we want?   What are our biases and how might they affect our work?


8 - 9:15am

Tom Hubler

“The Soul of Family Business.”This presentation will consider the roles of positive psychology, spirituality, and “Kything” in managing change in family-owned businesses.


9:15 - 10:30am




**Please note that the strategic planning session has been integrated into the meeting and will not be a pre-conference event, as described previously.




To register, please complete the attached registration form and send it with a check covering the registration fee. The non-refundable fee is $375 (or $350 if you register before December 31st). If you live in Chicago or suburbs, and will not be staying at the Orrington, the registration fee is $675 (or $650 if you register before December 31st). Please make checks payable to PDFB.


Registrations forms and checks can be sent to Marc Silverman’s assistant: Stella Gelsomino, Strategic Initiatives. Inc., 5900 Collins Avenue, Suite 1401, Miami Beach, FL 33140.  Once your registration is received, you will get an email with information about securing a reservation at the Hotel Orrington.




We do encourage you to invite new participants! Please be sure to inform them about the group’s eligibility criteria, which are posted on our website: www.pdfb.org.  New members should arrange to have a brief conversation with one of the members of the membership committee (Ellen Frankenberg, Marc Silverman or Mike Stern) prior to registration. New participants can register after January 1st on a first-come first-served basis, subject to available space. New members can receive the early registration discount if they register before February 15.

Best wishes,












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*If you have not attended PDFB before, please contact one of the following people on the membership committee prior to submitting your registration form:


Please send this completed form to Marc Silverman’s assistant: Stella Gelsomino, Strategic Initiatives. Inc., 5900 Collins Avenue, Suite 1401, Miami Beach, FL 33140.  (or email to assistant@sii-inc.net). See the table below for registration fees. Please make checks payable to “PDFB”.

Registrant Status

Registration Fee

Early Registration*

Non-Chicago Resident



Chicago Resident**




*The early registration deadline is 12/31/13 for past participants, and 2/15/14 for new participants.

**If you live in Chicago or suburbs, and will not be staying at the Orrington, the registration fee is higher to help equalize expenses with others.  



Invitations for PDFB 20 have been sent to prior participants, who have priority for the 32 slots. Remaining slots will then be open for registration on a first come first served basis to qualified professionals.

PDFB is a learning community; a safe environment in which colleagues can feel comfortable sharing tentative ideas, discussing failures, asking for feedback and genuinely exploring our practices. Because we work mostly alone with our clients, we have insufficient opportunities for such dialogues with professional colleagues. Family Firm Institute conferences and regional study groups provide learning opportunities across the disciplines and for less experienced consultants within the disciplines; but PDFB is the forum for the growing edge of knowledge and feedback within the community of experienced family/business systems and mental health professionals.

A word about the PDFB participants. No one is allowed to come just to listen and learn. Each of us participates in various ways. We are almost all either family therapists, or psychologists (organizational or clinical), or have psychiatry or social work degrees. A few are "dual diagnosis" OD consultants and family systems types; and we have a few members who come originally from business consulting backgrounds but are well steeped in family therapy literature and thinking. Some of us are more heavily qualified on the strength of research and academic degrees; others more on the strength of practical experience with business-owning families. Each member, in fact, is unique; but none of us is new to this field.

We are accepting inquiries for this year's Retreat. Group size is limited to 32 participants whose training is in psychologically-based fields, i.e., family systems, clinical psychology, psychiatry, social work, and organizational development. Participants have an experience range of working with 25 to 150 cases, yet it is expected that the average participant will have worked with at least 50 family business cases.

Reservations are made on a first come, first served basis. We share the costs and try to keep them under $600 for the two days including lodging and meals. (Participants who live close to Chicago subsidize the meeting expenses to compensate for some of the out-of-towners traveling expenses.) For current information about costs, see the invitation letter that was sent to prior participants (below).

If your background, experience and interests match the above, please consider joining us at PDFB 20. Please send an outline of your background and current professional activities, to the conference registrar, Marc Silverman, 5900 Collins Ave., Suite 1401, Miami Beach FL 33140.

Please see the Charter for a full understanding of our purpose and expectations.

Why Participate?

  • Field development. PDFB provides a synergistic learning environment that promotes knowledge, creativity, professional and personal growth, affiliation, respect and fun among participants.
  • Psychology foundation. Being involved with a group of practitioners from diverse psychologically-oriented backgrounds provides a deep and broad discussion of the psychological issues impacting on family firms while enhancing personal knowledge and contributing to the field.
  • Productive debate. PDFB provides a forum for constructive debate, productive critique, and the opportunity to develop or refine insights into theory and practice.
  • Participation. We encourage participants to prepare their thinking and goals in advance of the Retreat, to take risks with their thinking, and to actively participate in an encounter with others interested in learning.
  • Concept development. Although not a requirement of all participants, individuals have the opportunity to present their work-in-progress to the group. Final form is not required.
  • Basics assumed. The experience level of participants allows for advanced discussion without the need to review the basics.

Terms of Invitation letter :

Again this year, our meeting and lodging will be at the Orrington Hotel in Evanston, Illinois. (30 minutes north of the Loop and 40 minutes from OHare).


All participants, whether lodging at the Orrington, or with friends/relatives in Chicago, or locals commuting from home, MUST COMMIT TO SPEND THE FULL DAYS AND EVENINGS WITH THE GROUP. Much of our success depends on the group process, so any splintering off to enjoy the town and relatives must be done before we convene (around 3:00 PM on Friday) or after we all leave (no earlier than 1:00PM on Sunday). If you are traveling by air, you'll need to arrive by around 1:00 pm at OHare in order to check in and be ready to start by 3:00. You can make a 3:00 departing flight on Sunday without difficulty. Alternatively, Midway airport is 30 to 45 minutes further than OHare.

As a courtesy to others, we emphasize that you should NOT register for this retreat if you may find it necessary to arrive late or leave early. In the event of a partial conflict, please cancel so that your place may be taken be someone on the waiting list.


The non-refundable registration fee is $375. (If you live in Chicago or suburbs, and will not be staying at the Orrington, make your registration check for $675 (to help equalize expenses). All meals are included, unless revenues don't quite cover expenses, in which case we all chip in; this hasn't been necessary in recent years.

Mail your registration check for either $375 (if coming from out of town) or $675 (if local and not staying at Orrington) to Marc Silverman, 5900 Collins Ave., Suite 1401, Miami Beach FL 33140. Marc's phone is 305-865-8186.

A block of rooms has been guaranteed at the Orrington. You will be provided with the reservation code when you register for PDFB. As we are a cooperative venture, any additional costs or any refunds will be divided among participants.

After we receive your registration fee, we will send you reservation details for the Omni Orrington.

Hope to see you in Evanston in May!