Faculty & Staff

Joseph Horak

Joseph Horak, Director

Joseph Horak, Ph.D. is the Director of the Family Owned Business Institute at the Seidman College of Business at Grand Valley State University.  As Director, Joe leads the strategic direction of the FOBI and oversees the operations and services provided by the Institute.  The mission of FOBI is to serve family owned businesses through education, research and advocacy.  Joe has taught family business at GVSU since 2007.  He began consulting with family owned businesses in the late 1980’s as a Senior Family Therapist at Henry Ford Hospital in Dearborn, MI, when this new consulting area was just beginning.   He has helped many family owned and privately held companies through transitions for over 25 years.  Joe also provides leadership assessment and coaching.

Joe is licensed as a Psychologist and Marriage and Family Therapist.  Governor Engler twice appointed him to the Licensing Board for Marriage and Family Therapy and Governor Snyder appointed him to the Licensing Board for Psychology.  In 2011, he was awarded the Outstanding Alumnus Award from the Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology Department at Western Michigan University.  In 2002, he received the Professional Practice Award from the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.  This is the highest award a practitioner can receive and has only been awarded three times since 1942.

In 2014 and 2015 Joe coached GVSU students in the International Family Business Case Competition.   In 2014 the GVSU team won the award for the Most Creative and Innovative Team and both years a student from Seidman’s team won the award for the Best Presenter in their division.

Dr. Horak was previously the Senior Director of Family Business Consultation and Leadership Development at DWH, a consulting firm in Grand Rapids, MI.

Melissa Johnson

Melissa Johnson, Intern

Melissa is a senior General Business major at Grand Valley. She moved to West Michigan from East Lansing, where she attended Michigan State University and worked for her parents’ small family owned business. She was first enlightened about the intricacies and wonders of family business when she participated in the 2014 Family Enterprise Case Competition in Burlington, VT. In 2015, Melissa won the FECC award for Best Presenter in the team's division. 

Melissa is also an active member of the Young Life community in Grand Rapids, where she currently serves as Volunteer Coordinator for YoungLives, a branch of ministry geared toward teen moms. Her involvement with Young Life took her as far as Colorado, where she worked as a backpacking guide and Guide Team Leader for Wilderness Ranch, an outdoor adventure camp. She has also enjoyed work as a market researcher for the Michigan Small Business Development Center.

Melissa has a multitude of career and personal aspirations, all of which she hopes will contribute to a journey of lifelong learning.

Amy Gascon

Amy Gascon, Office Coordinator

Amy Gascon joined the Family Owned Business Institute in November 2014 as the Office Coordinator. In this role, she helps maintain the daily functions of the office. Before coming to Grand Valley, Amy held a variety of positions in the local non-profit field including time with AmeriCorps, United Way and Girl Scouts. Amy is a graduate of GVSU, receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies.