As former non-family business executives and current professors at UNC-Chapel Hill, Steve Miller and Cooper Biersach have decades of experience in developing students and family business leaders in small group settings like the Forum. All of their consulting work and their Next Generation Leadership Forums are based upon Steve Miller’s original research that identifies important skills that have been proven to increase the likelihood of next generation leadership success.

Steve Miller & Cooper Biersach


Cooper Biersach is a consultant with GenSpan. She is the Co-Founder and the Director of the Family Enterprise Center at UNC-Chapel Hill's Kenan-Flagler Business School. The Family Enterprise Center is committed to preparing next generation family business students to lead their family companies – as employees and/or as owners. To this end, Cooper serves as an adjunct assistant professor and co-teaches two courses in family business with Steve Miller. Since 2008, Cooper has worked with over 400 next generation family business leaders at the Family Enterprise Center.

Prior to moving back to her home state of North Carolina, Cooper lived in Boston, MA, where she served as the Senior VP, Worldwide Human Resources and as a member of the Executive Committee of Jack Morton Worldwide, an award-winning global brand experience agency. In her role, she faced firsthand many of the challenges and opportunities of a family-run business — exponential growth, succession planning, acquisitions, global pressures, and the purchase of the company by a publicly traded holding company (Interpublic Group). While at Jack Morton, Cooper created an innovative HR culture focused on leadership and employee development that resulted in the company’s ability to meet ambitious growth objectives.

Cooper is the founding director of the Carolinas Family Office Forum, a networking and educational group for top executives of family offices in North and South Carolina; and she serves on the advisory board of the Carolina Clinic at UNC, a premier executive health program that addresses the needs of high-level executives.

Cooper received her BA in English at UNC-Chapel Hill, followed by her MBA and JD with honors.


Stephen P. Miller is president of GenSpan, Inc. in Asheville, North Carolina and co-founder of the Family Enterprise Center at UNC-Chapel Hill's Kenan-Flagler Business School, where he serves as adjunct assistant professor of strategy and entrepreneurship. 

Steve works with family-owned businesses to help them develop world-class, sustainable enterprises. He draws on his 35 years of experience as the top non-family executive of the Vanderbilt/Cecil family-owned Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC, where he played a key role in making Biltmore the most visited historic home in the United States, with over one million visitors each year. Steve’s approach is to work with family business leaders to create and employ business and governance strategies that align business, family, and ownership goals. 

In addition to ongoing succession planning, leadership training, and strategic consulting for The Biltmore Company and other clients, Steve chairs the board of Draper & Kramer, a fourth-generation family-owned real estate development and management firm in Chicago, and serves on the board of Asheville Savings Bank, a public community bank. 

Steve earned his PhD in Management at Case Western Reserve University. His research is focused on next-generation leader development. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and completed the Advanced Management Program at Harvard University.