Brown-Forman Family Business Leadership Award


Nominations Are Now Closed!

The Award will recognize an individual from a family business who exhibits exemplary leadership qualities such as philanthropic activity in the community, community engagement, cultivation of a family business legacy, and application of family business best practices.

Registration for the 2017 FBC Annual Summit coming soon!

For more information contact Brittany Boone at


What is the FBLA?

The Brown-Forman Family Business Leadership Award honors and recognizes an individual with the highest level of family business leadership and excellence in our community. This award seeks to strengthen family businesses and empower them to become legacy family firms by highlighting examples of exemplary leadership, family unity, and civic engagement in the family business community. 

The Award is presented at the annual Family Business Summit, which is held during the second week of November, dedicated by Mayor Fischer as "Family Business Week." The recipient is recognized at a celebratory luncheon or dinner following the Summit.  Nominees will be recognized during the Summit event as well.


Selection Criteria

The winner of the Brown-Forman Family Business Leadership Award will exhibit exemplary leadership qualities such as philanthropic activity in the community, community engagement, cultivation of a family business legacy, and application of family business best practices. Above all, the recipient will be upheld as an example of leadership for others to aspire to, as they seek to cultivate and strengthen legacy family firms in our region.

Nominees are evaluated based on the following criteria; please be sure to reference these in your nomination:

  • A strong demonstrated commitment to both business and family
  • Multi-generational family business involvement
  • Strong contributions to industry
  • Meaningful engagement in the community
  • Innovative business practices and strategies

Click here to download a flyer about the award including the selection criteria and eligibility information.

Requirements & Eligibility

To be eligible, a family business must be a multi-generational (least two generations are actively involved) family business headquartered in the Greater Louisville or Southern Indiana region. Membership in the FBC is not required. There is no application charge.

You can nominate yourself or any deserving family business leader by completing a simple nomination form.  Nominations for the 2016 award will be accepted starting June 1 through August 1, 2016.

2016 Winner: Bill Weyland, Weyland Ventures

William “Bill” Weyland is the Chief Strategy Officer of Weyland Ventures. An award winning architect and developer, Bill has committed much of his career to revitalizing downtown Louisville. Nationally known for creating the famous 10-story baseball bat and the Louisville Slugger Factory & Museum, his impact on the community has been a key component in the growth of the city’s core.

His portfolio includes challenging historic renovations such as The Henry Clay, Whisky Row, Guthrie Coke and most recently, the Edison Center. New construction includes ZirMed Tower, 310@Nulu, Hilton Garden Inn, 8UP, and The Quad (U of L Student Housing).

A Louisville native, Bill graduated from Notre Dame in 1975. His training included a year of concentrated study of Urban Planning in Rome, Italy. In 1980, after working in a local architectural firm for a few years, Bill along with his wife Edith and one employee began Weyland Partnership. In 1988 the firm merged with Louis and Henry. With a strong desire to focus on Urban Redevelopment, Bill left the firm in 1993 to create City Properties Group (now known as Weyland Ventures). In addition to his wife, the newly branded “Weyland Ventures” team also includes three of Bill and Edith’s children, Mariah Gratz, and Lee and Kent Weyland. Joined by a staff of 20 employees, Weyland Ventures has expanded beyond Louisville with current development projects underway in St. Paul, Minnesota, Jasper, Indiana and Dayton, Ohio.

The recipient of numerous awards for his success and leadership – recognitions include the Forbes National Innovation Award for Business and Arts; Louisville Historic League Founders Award; Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award; Ida Lee Willis Award for Preservation; Business First Small Business Leader of the Year Award; REACH Community Service Person of the Year Award; Hilton Garden Inn Developer of the Year; and LDP Downtown Visionary Award. Bill currently serves on the PNC Bank Community Development Council and the Trinity High School Board.

2015 Winner: John A. Zoeller, Zoeller Company

John A. Zoeller P.E. is the current President and CEO of Zoeller Company.  Zoeller Company is a fourth generation family business and employee-owned company with over 730 employees in six different countries.  With sales spanning across over 50 countries worldwide, Zoeller Company continues to grow as an example to family businesses everywhere.

John A. Zoeller Receiving Brown-Forman Family Business Leadership Award

The Zoeller Co. has one of the oldest and largest family business councils in the country, and John is an active participant on both the Family Council and the Board of Directors.  The company does extensive community work through a non-profit called “Pumping for Life,” which is dedicated to improving water conditions by helping communities have access to healthy drinking water and process wastewater into pure drink. They have been active with the Community Foundation of Louisville for over 20 years.John was born in 1956.  A Louisville native, he graduated in 1979 from the University of Louisville Speed School of Engineering with a Masters in Engineering.   John worked as a Senior Civil Engineer for the

John was born in 1956.  A Louisville native, he graduated in 1979 from the University of Louisville Speed School of Engineering with a Masters in Engineering.   John worked as a Senior Civil Engineer for the Louisville Jefferson County Metropolitan Sewer District from 1984 to 1989. In 2004, he continued his family’s legacy when he became President of Zoeller Company.

John also serves on the Harbor House Board of Directors, Whip Mix Corporation Board, and past Chair of the Board of Directors for UofL Family Business Center Advisory Board.

2014 Winner: Mac Brown, Brown-Forman

Mac Brown was instrumental in the 2009 relaunch of the Family Business Center, where he served as Chair of the Advisory Board and as an active and founding board member for three years.  Mac’s hands-on efforts led to the development of the by-laws and governing documents that support the Family Business Center and contributed to its steady growth and success.  His knowledge and application of family and organizational governance have contributed to his growing national reputation as a family business governance expert as well as a passionate supporter and champion of multi-generational legacy family businesses.

Mac Brown Receiving Brown-Forman Family Business Leadership Award

Mac Brown is the past Vice President of Brown-Forman Corporation, a diversified producer of fine quality beverage alcohol brands founded in 1870 by his great grandfather, George Garvin Brown.

Mac was born November 19, 1952, and married to Eileen Cooke in 1977.  Together, they have four children and three grandchildren, with two children employed at Brown-Forman.  Other interests include genealogy, politics, and community development.


Brown-Forman Partnership | Leading By Example

Could you imagine a Louisville without the legacy of Brown-Forman? Brown-Forman is an exemplary legacy family business that exhibits best practices in terms of family business leadership and governance as well as community engagement through a variety of philanthropic activities. (Click here to view Brown-Forman's Corporate Social Responsibility report). It is a compelling model of family business leadership for any family business to aspire toward.

Thanks to the continued support of Brown-Forman, we are able to offer this award every year to an individual who strives every day to be an example of family business leadership in our community.


 Have questions? Contact Us!