Established in 2018 by management professors James Vardaman and Laura Marler, the Family Business Education Initiative (FBEI) program's mission is to educate and assist small business owners with growing and sustaining their businesses. This educational initiative helps family and/or small business owners employ more effective business practices, bringing value to both their family and community by fostering job growth and economic stability. 

Learn more about the FBEI program's co-founders below. 

Dr. James Vardaman

 James Vardaman

James Vardaman is an Associate Professor and Nancy Allen Fellow of Management at Mississippi State University. His research focuses on the role of social networks, social influence and social comparisons in employee retention and responses to organizational change. He studies these topics primarily in healthcare organizations and family-owned businesses. His work has been published in journals such as Organization Science, Journal of Organizational Behavior, Academy of Management Perspectives, and Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice.

Professor Vardaman has a 10-year history of working with individuals, groups, and organizations in the health care, insurance, technology, and government fields. Dr. Vardaman's expertise centers on leadership during change, employee recruitment and retention, and human performance. He has facilitated over 40 training and development sessions and worked in three transformative consulting engagements in the past decade.

Professor Vardaman serves on the Board of the Organizational Change Division of the Academy of Management and on the Editorial Review Boards of Journal of Management, Human Resource Management Review, and Journal of Change Management. He is former member of the Southern Management Association's Board of Governors. 

Dr. Laura Marler

 Laura Marler 

Dr. Laura E. Marler is the Department Head of Management & Information Systems and the Jim and Pat Coggin Endowed Professor of Management at Mississippi State University. Her research which examines proactive personality and behavior in the workplace has been published in top management journals such as the Journal of Organizational Behavior, Human Relations, Journal of Vocational Behavior, among others.

Dr. Marler’s research also focuses on understanding the management of human talent in family firms and has been funded by the Center for Family Enterprise Research at Mississippi State University. Her family firm research has been published in Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, Human Resource Management Review, Journal of Family Business Management, and other journals. She co-founded the Family Business Education Initiative in 2018 and conducts outreach sessions for small businesses in the region.

She currently serves on the editorial boards of Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, Human Resource Management Review, Group & Organization Management, and Journal of Managerial Issues.