Kelin E. Gersick, Ph.D.

Co-founder, Senior Partner, Lansberg, Gersick & Associates

Kelin E. Gersick, Ph.D. is a co-founder and a senior partner of Lansberg, Gersick & Associates. He has taught at Harvard University and Yale University, and is Professor Emeritus of Organizational Psychology at the California School of Professional Psychology. His consulting, teaching, and educational programs on family business and family foundations have taken him throughout North America and to more than 35 countries in Central and South America, Europe, Asia, Australia, the Middle East, and Africa.

Kelin is the lead author of Generation to Generation: Life Cycles of the Family Business (1997, Harvard Business School Press), The Succession Workbook: Continuity Planning in Family Foundations (2000, Council on Foundations), Generations of Giving: Leadership and Continuity in Family Foundations (2004, Lexington Books), and many articles, cases, columns, and other publications. He has served as Co-Editor in Chief of Family Business Review, and is currently Chair of the Research Board for the International Institute for Family Enterprise.

Kelin’s consulting work focuses on the impact of family relationships – marriage, parenting, siblings, and cousins, and multiple generations — on governance and continuity in family businesses, family foundations, and family offices. Kelin holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University and a B.A. from Yale University.


Voices from the Field

Rethinking “Us” and “Them” in Family Philanthropy

Posted on April 22, 2020 by Ashley Blanchard, Kelin E. Gersick, Ph.D.

woman wearing mask looking at reflection
In the past few weeks, we have been inundated with information about how philanthropy can respond to this pandemic. Many emergency and collaborative funds are being formed by reputable intermediaries, making it easier to get money into the hands of those who need it most. It’s heartening to see the clear and consistent messages coming from all parts of the sector: assure your grantee partners that you have their back; keep your funding flexible; support both immediate needs and long-term recovery; and focus on the most vulnerable. We’ve learned these lessons from other crises and need to apply them now… Read More

The NCFP and LGA Collaborative Pilot Research Project on Philanthropy in Complex, Multi-Generational Families: To Integrate or Differentiate?

Posted on October 28, 2019 by Wendy R. Ulaszek, Ph.D., Kelin E. Gersick, Ph.D.

The largest and most complex exemplary philanthropic families now face many challenges beyond foundation operations. Increasing size, geographic dispersal, and psychological distance from the founders all contribute to the difficulty of finding ongoing roles for family members that satisfy both the individual’s needs for self-expression and authenticity and the collective need for buy-in to the collaborative process of the foundation… Read More
Voices from the Field

How Can We Study Integrated Philanthropy in Complex Multi­‐Generational Families?

Posted on July 2, 2019 by Wendy R. Ulaszek, Ph.D., Neus Feliu, Ph.D., Kelin E. Gersick, Ph.D., Don Carlson, J.D.

a family of two parents and two kids smiles at the camera
Much has changed in the world of family philanthropy over the intervening decade. Many third-­ and later-­generation families have evolved multifaceted philanthropic structures with complex governance systems. Their legacy family foundations are often only one part of the machinery through which families express their philanthropic and social responsibility vision… Read More
Voices from the Field

Why Study Integrated Philanthropy in Complex Multi-Generational Families?

Posted on May 6, 2019 by Wendy R. Ulaszek, Ph.D., Neus Feliu, Ph.D., Kelin E. Gersick, Ph.D., Don Carlson, J.D.

Generations - African American Family
In a follow-­up to Generations of Giving, NCFP is now co-­sponsoring a research project with LGA to explore how complex, multigenerational business families are using a variety of vehicles beyond their family foundations to pursue philanthropic goals—including their personal philanthropy, donor-­advised funds, corporate social responsibility programs, and values‐aligned investing strategies… Read More

Family Philanthropy Through Multiple Vehicles

Posted on January 8, 2019 by Wendy R. Ulaszek, Ph.D., Kelin E. Gersick, Ph.D.

boardroom-meeting-sticky notes
How can families with multi-faceted philanthropic efforts – those with multiple foundations or funds, who are also using impact investing and other creative strategies – develop governance systems and structures that accommodate this complexity? What processes are these “complex” families using to allocate available human capital to the various governance structures? What approaches are they using to address dilemmas of… Read More

2016 Trustee Education Institute: a Comprehensive Seminar for Family Foundation Trustees

Posted on March 9, 2016 by Virginia M. Esposito, Susan Crites Price, Andrew Schulz, Bruce Kahn, David Dodson, David Grant, David Neal, Alice Buhl, Jan Jaffe, Kelin E. Gersick, Ph.D.

NCFP’s Trustee Education Institute provides a comprehensive introduction to all of the key legal, investment, ethical, grantmaking, and family dynamics issues facing family foundation board members. Featuring a faculty made up of NCFP’s senior staff and highly respected philanthropy experts, this three day, intensive seminar will cover: What does it mean to be a steward of both the public’s trust… Read More

Generations of Giving: Introduction

Posted on September 27, 2006 by Deanne Stone, Howard Muson, Katherine Grady, Kelin E. Gersick, Ph.D., Michele Desjardins

This is the introduction for Generations of Giving: Leadership and Continuity in Family Foundations, the landmark 2006 study by a team of researchers led by Kelin Gersick and co-published by the National Center for Family Philanthropy. This introduction features the lead author’s proposition that the concept of “success” in family foundations has been severely under-explored in the field of philanthropy,… Read More

Generations of Giving: Transitions in Family Foundations

Posted on September 27, 2006 by Deanne Stone, Howard Muson, Katherine Grady, Kelin E. Gersick, Ph.D., Michele Desjardins

This excerpt from the introduction for Generations of Giving: Leadership and Continuity in Family Foundations, explores the six components of transitions in a typical family foundation, introduced as follows: The overall time span of a transition may be a few months or several years, depending on the type of transition and the complexity of the system. But we believe that… Read More

Generations of Giving: Lessons on Governance and Continuity

Posted on February 25, 2005 by Kelin E. Gersick, Ph.D.

For every family member involved in a family foundation or advised fund, there are two fundamental questions: Why are we doing this? And why am I participating? The second in a two-part series, Kelin Gersick presented key lessons on governance and explored questions in the areas of reviewing and reinventing mission, considering family dynamics, and preparing for future generations involvement… Read More

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