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NKU Creates the Center for Family Enterprise and Small Business and Names Dawn Parks as Director


April 4, 2022 - Northern Kentucky University is excited to unveil the Center for Family Enterprise and Small Business (CFESB) with Dawn Parks serving as the director of this new initiative.

The CFESB was established to function as a premier resource and learning community for family enterprise and small business throughout the tri-state, fostering business innovation and growth while enhancing a solid regional economy.

“We are thrilled to formally announce the Center for Family Enterprise and Small Business in support of entrepreneurial families of all kinds and at all stages of their business’ lifecycle. As a college we are strategically focused on areas of great social and economic impact, including family-driven entrepreneurial activity,” said Haile College of Business Dean Hassan HassabElnaby. “And given the financial impacts of the pandemic on small businesses, the Center for Family Enterprise and Small Business will play an essential role in helping the local economy move from recovery into growth as it will provide sustainable growth strategies for family and small businesses, in some of our most rural communities.” 

Parks has been building businesses for 20+ years and teaching best entrepreneurial practices to founders for the past decade. She previously facilitated Ignite, Purdue Research Foundation’s product ideation course, and co-founded a women’s financial literacy company in 2019. 

“Dawn understands the step-by-step pathways and resources that are needed to bring a new concept into existence,” said Executive Director of Outreach and Engagement Janet Harrah. “There is no product or business concept too big or small that an entrepreneur may dream up for her to coach successfully.” 

The CFESB will mainly operate out of NKU’s newly developed Collaborative for Economic Engagement, located at 112 West Pike St. in Covington, which connects entrepreneurs to mentors, incubator facilities, business support services and all of the resources of NKU. Additionally, the center will also provide services out of NKU’s Haile College of Business two days a week providing students and faculty the ability to engage with the center in experiential learning opportunities. 

“Family enterprises and small businesses are the glue that holds the economy together,” said Parks. “Company owners often spend valuable and frustrating time hunting for resources and advice that impacts their ability to deliver products and services. I am excited to create a one-stop experience that makes it easy for small businesses to get the resources that they need quickly and efficiently.” 

Parks earned her M.S. in Forest Policy from Purdue University and her B.A. from the University of Cincinnati. 

About the Center for Family Enterprise and Small Business: The Center for Family Enterprise and Small Business provides a singular point of contact for family enterprise, rural and disadvantaged businesses, and fills gaps within the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem. For more information, visit its website. 

About the Haile College of Business: With more than 2,000 students, the Haile College of Business’ goal is to educate and connect with the Northern Kentucky/Greater Cincinnati business community by delivering globally relevant, innovative and sustainable programs and practices. The college offers 12 undergraduate degrees and three master’s level programs. For more information, visit its website.

About NKU: Founded in 1968, NKU is an entrepreneurial state university of over 16,000 students served by more than 2,000 faculty and staff on a thriving suburban campus nestled between Highland Heights, Kentucky and bustling downtown Cincinnati. We are a regionally engaged university committed to empowering our students to have fulfilling careers and meaningful lives. While we are one of the fastest-growing universities in Kentucky, our professors still know our students' names. For more information, visit