Family Business Alliance begins 2020 with new chair, eclectic programming

New FBA chairwoman

The Family Business Alliance, a collaborative regional program shared by Penn State Scranton and Wilkes University, recently announced its new board chair – Hilary Kane Lyle of local distribution specialist Kane is Able.

Credit: Penn State

DUNMORE, Pa. — As it heads into 2020, Penn State Scranton and Wilkes University’s collaborative Family Business Alliance (FBA) is making a change to its leadership structure while continuing to offer a host of programming, counseling and networking opportunities to small businesses across northeast Pennsylvania.

FBA recently announced its new board chair — Hilary Kane Lyle of local distribution specialist Kane is Able. She takes the reins from Daniel Haggerty, who had served in the position for the past four years.

Lyle has been affiliated with FBA since 2007, becoming more closely involved upon moving back to the Scranton area in 2011. Prior to becoming chair, she was a key member of the organization’s events committee.

“Hilary has been very instrumental in designing our programming and bringing in speakers over the last several years,” said FBA executive director Susan Reilly. “Currently, we are spearheading and working on a strategic plan for the next five years. Our goal is to figure out and focus on what the most important issues are locally, and then to provide those needed materials and resources to businesses. Because to say that family businesses are the backbone of our economy is a huge understatement.”

“I am excited to work more closely with the family businesses in the area and to continue to grow our program,” Lyle added.

Lyle began her career with Kane 13 years ago, starting there as a human resources generalist. From there, she ran the HR operation for a Kansas site that Kane established with Kimberly-Clark, then moved to Illinois to convert the workforce at an existing Kimberly-Clark office to Kane.

Since moving back to the region, Lyle has focused on Kane’s company culture. Her responsibilities include Kane’s culture survey program, recruiting, and working with local high schools and organizations to help place students in the workforce.

Haggerty, who previously served as the publisher of family-owned Times-Shamrock Communications newspapers The Citizens' Voice of Wilkes-Barre and Standard-Speaker of Hazleton, is the current president of Clarks Summit-based PMJ Productions, which specializes in the sale, merger, acquisition and valuation of businesses.

Reilly said Haggerty accomplished a lot during his time as board chair.

“He really tried to connect with a lot of the family businesses, and his biggest contribution to the Family Business Alliance was adding Penn State Scranton as a partner,” she said. “With Penn State on board, we really are trying to make this more of a regional effort. The thinking is that if we can promote family businesses across the entire region, all ships rise. So, we need to keep working together, because we all can’t do it alone.”

As usual, FBA’s spring programming will be focused on a host of issues relevant to family businesses, Reilly said.

“I would ask people to come check us out and see what the Family Business Alliance is all about. We talk about issues all family businesses are struggling with that we may be able to provide resources for,” Reilly said. “We won’t solve the issue, but we’ll start the conversation. It’s good for businesses to know that other families are dealing with the same things. And then they also get to know each other and collaborate.”

The spring schedule is as follows:

Medical Marijuana in the Workplace
Tuesday, Jan. 28, 8:30 to 11 a.m., Wilkes University, Wilkes-Barre

Given medical marijuana’s increasingly legal status across the country, employers are now having to contend with the issue. Among other things, this free seminar will cover: marijuana’s effect on users and how to recognize the signs of impairment; understanding Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Act (Act 16); and employer and employee rights and obligations. There also will be a panel discussion addressing clinical, legal and employment aspects of the law as it applies to the workforce.

Rule of Three Leadership Workshop
Tuesday, Feb. 25, 8 to 11 a.m., Junior Achievement of Northeastern Pennsylvania, Pittston Township

This interactive leadership workshop will be tailored to current and future leaders of all experience levels, and will be led by John Gronski, a retired Army major general.

“He was referred to me by others who have heard him speak and were impressed with him,” Reilly said. “He does leadership training for the Army, and those same ideas carry over to the business world.”

How Did My Family Get in My Office?
Wednesday, March 18: 8 a.m., Wilkes University; 11:30 a.m., Penn State Scranton

Bonnie Artman Fox of A Conscious Choice LLC will present what’s bound to be an eye-opening program on the often-surprising ways our upbringing impacts our conflict style — for better or for worse — and how to keep what works and change what doesn't.

Passing the Torch
Tuesday, April 21, 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Penn State Scranton

This program will include the panel discussion, “Will the Next Gen Carry on the Legacy?,” and the presentation, “Wealth and the Razure of Oblivion,” given by keynote speaker Pierre duPont, partner at Cerity Partners and a member of the famous duPont family.

“This event will be all about moving the family business from one generation to the next. It’s about making transitions and planning for the future,” Reilly said. “It’s the type of thing Pierre has been doing for years. He works with a lot of family businesses.”

For more information on the Family Business Alliance, contact Reilly at 570-408-2120 or [email protected]. Or, visit