NFIB was founded by C. Wilson Harder in 1943 and maintained its headquarters in San Mateo, California, until 1992 when it was relocated to Nashville,TN. Harder began with a home office and sold the first memberships to his neighbors. His vision was to give small and independent business a voice in governmental decision-making through political advocacy. Since its early history, NFIB’s political agenda has been determined through a one-vote balloting process of its membership.
Harder was succeeded in 1969 by his son John, who was replaced just six months later by Wilson S. Johnson. Under Johnson, member Action Councils were created, which still exist today, known as Leadership Councils. Through this time, NFIB also began to gain greater recognition in Washington, D.C., and in state capitals.
John Sloan became President of NFIB in 1983. He was the first chief executive to be brought in from outside the organization. Sloan installed a business structure with a sales manager, finance and administration directed by the CFO (both in San Mateo), and expanded the organization’s presence with a public policy operation in Washington, DC.
In 1983, the organization established the NFIB Member Services Corporation. The Corporation is wholly owned by NFIB. Its purpose is to offer preferred-provider member benefit programs to assist members in reducing operating costs. Programs include worker’s compensation insurance, commercial and personal health insurance, credit card processing, operational supplies, and discounts on commonly used business products and services.
In 1992, following the death of John Sloan, Jack Faris assumed the role of President and clearly defined NFIB’s role in affecting public policy at the state and federal levels through political and grassroots activism, and lobbying with lawmakers in an integrated manner. In 1992, NFIB headquarters were officially relocated to Nashville, TN.
Jack Faris announced his retirement in early 2005. The board formed a search committee and selected Todd A. Stottlemyer as the fifth President of NFIB. Stottlemyer took the reins of NFIB on February 15, 2006, with a goal of improving NFIB’s non-partisan reach and technology infrastructure.
In February 2009, Dan Danner became the sixth president of NFIB and served until February 2016. Under Danner’s leadership, NFIB proved to be a driving force in the opposition of major governmental regulations, gaining historical recognition as the only business association to challenge President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in the Supreme Court in 2012 in the case NATIONAL FEDERATION OF INDEPENDENT BUSINESS et al. v. SEBELIUS, SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, et al..
Following Danner’s retirement, Juanita Duggan was named President and CEO in February 2016.
NFIB has grown from Harder’s for-profit entrepreneurial vision in 1943 to the non-profit national association of more than 325,000 members it is today.