In 1985, with an initial gift of $90,000, Tom Golisano launched his first philanthropic endeavor by establishing the B. Thomas Golisano Foundation. Today, with assets of $25 million, the Foundation awards grants to organizations dedicated to providing opportunities for those with intellectual disabilities and offering support to their families. In addition to the family Foundation's contributions, Mr. Golisano has been very generous to other institutions and organizations. Since the late 1990s Mr. Golisano's philanthropy has totaled more than $260 million.
B. Thomas Golisano
Recent Philanthropy News
B. Thomas Golisano — entrepreneur, philanthropist, and civic leader — is the founder and chairman of the Board of Paychex, Inc., headquartered in Rochester, New York. With more than 12,000 employees and 100 office locations nationwide, Paychex is a leading national provider of payroll, human resource, and benefit outsourcing solutions for more than a half-million small and medium-sized businesses. Mr. Golisano served as Paychex’s president and chief executive officer from 1971, when he founded the company, until October 2004.
Mr. Golisano and Paychex have consistently been recognized by the business, financial and national media. Mr. Golisano was listed among the FORBES top 10 bosses in the U.S. for three consecutive years, beginning in 2002; the annual ranking is based on chief executives who provide the best balance between their compensation and shareholder return. Mr. Golisano also appeared in CHIEF EXECUTIVE magazine's 10th Annual CEO Growth 100 list in May 2001.
Mr. Golisano has demonstrated an ongoing dedication and commitment to a variety of civic issues and organizations. In 1985 he launched his first philanthropic endeavor by establishing the Golisano Foundation, which awards grants to organizations providing opportunities for those with intellectual disabilities. His personal philanthropic contributions to hospitals, educational institutions and other organizations have totaled more than $260 million. In recognition of his achievements and endeavors, Golisano has received numerous awards and holds honorary doctorate degrees from five different colleges and universities.
Mr. Golisano is a member of the board of directors of several private companies and institutions.
He is the former owner the Buffalo Sabres of the National Hockey League, which he purchased on March 14, 2003, demonstrating his commitment to Western New York and the region's economic climate. Mr. Golisano said that it was important to keep the team in Buffalo because it is an economic and community asset. Mr. Golisano sold the team in 2011 with the stipulation that the team remain in Western NY.
Born in Irondequoit, New York, Mr Golisano graduated from Alfred State College in 1962 with a degree in general business management. He was presented an honorary doctorate of humane letters, at his alma mater's commencement ceremony, on May 17, 2009.
Mr. Golisano is married to Monica Seles, professional tennis player and member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame. He has three children and several grandchildren.
Honors and Awards
Rochester Institute of Technology's Nathaniel Rochester Society gave its highest honor to Mr. Golisano, a longtime RIT trustee, for significant contributions to the university.
In October the University of Buffalo School of Management named Mr. Golisano the 2008 Niagara Frontier Executive of the Year.
70th Annual Rochester Rotary Award. The award is presented annually to an individual who most exemplifies the motto of Rotary International: Service Above Self.
Agnes Bartlett Curtis Philanthropy Award, Rochester General Hospital Foundation
Catherine McAuley Philanthropy and Vision Award, Our Lady of Mercy High School
Temple Adath Yeshurun Citizen of the Year Awar
Springbrook Citizen of the Year Award
Oneonta, NY (Springbrook is nonprofit organization that cares for developmentally disabled individuals.)
Catholic Family Center's 2005 CFC Award for his many contributions to human service organizations throughout greater Rochester.
Canisius College Board of Regents Distinguished Citizen Achievement Award
Major Donald Holleder Award, Rochester Press Radio Club’
Outstanding Philanthropist for 2004 by the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
Junior Achievement of Western New York Inc's Business Leadership Hall of Fame
Forbes Top 10 Bosses in the U.S.
Annual CEO Pay Survey – “Best Bang for the Buck”
Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Outstanding Philanthropist Award
Presented at International AFP Conference, Seattle, Washington
Junior Achievement of Western New York Inc.’s Business Leadership Hall of Fame
Honorary Doctor of Letters Degree, Hartwick College
Special Recognition Award, Youth Services Council
First-ever Humanitarian Award by the Italian American Community Center in Rochester.
David T. Kearns Medal of Distinction, which recognizes significant achievements in business, public service, and education, by the University of Rochester's William E. Simon Graduate School of Business Administration. (June)
Philanthropist of the Year Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Genesee Valley Chapter
FORBES’ Top 10 Bosses in the US
Annual CEO Pay Survey – “Best Bang for the Buck”
Italian American Community Center of Rochester’s Humanitarian Award
As a major stockholder in eight other national companies, he earned a place on INC. magazine's "Dream Team of the Eighties" list, and was named "Entrepreneur of the Decade" by Rochester Business Magazine.
CHIEF EXECUTIVE magazine’s 10th Annual CEO Growth 100 List
Rochester Business Hall of Fame, Member of Inaugural Class,
Outstanding Alumni Award, American Association of Community Colleges
Presented during ceremony in Chicago, Illinois
Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from St. John Fisher College in Rochester, NY.
"Distinguished Citizen of the Year" Award from the Otetiana Council of the Boy Scouts of America
“Master Entrepreneur” Award, Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Awards Competition for Western New York
Shumway Distinguished Service Award, Family Service of Rochester
Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from Roberts Wesleyan College, Rochester, NY.
Humanitarian of the Year Award, presented by the Boy's Town of Italy,
Commerce and Industry Award of the Rochester Chamber of Commerce
He was recipient of the 1987 Herbert W. VandenBrul Entrepreneurial Award, presented by Rochester Institute of Technology's College of Business.
INC. magazine’s “Dream Team of the Eighties” List
Entrepreneur of the Decade, Rochester Business Magazine
Mr. Golisano demonstrates ongoing generosity and commitment to the greater Rochester community, home of Paychex corporate headquarters, and other organizations in Upstate and Western New York, and Florida..
In 1985, with an initial gift of $90,000, he launched his first philanthropic endeavor by establishing the B. Thomas Golisano Foundation. Today, with assets of $25 million, the Foundation awards grants to organizations dedicated to providing opportunities for those with developmental disabilities and offering support to their families.
Since then, Mr. Golisano's philanthropic contributions have totaled more than $257 million. Some of these gifts have included:
Tom Golisano committed $7.5 million to Nazareth College on September 21, 2016 for a new Athletic Training Center that will create a model ofiInclusion, fitness & wellness.
On July 20, 2016 WXXI Public Broadcasting announced that a $2 million gift from Rochester entrepreneur and philanthropist B. Thomas Golisano helped the station exceed its goal in its multi-year “Go Public” campaign to secure the future of public media in Rochester.
A $3 million donation announced Novermber 25, 2015 from Tom Golisano will help the Al Sigl Community of Agencies transform its facilities to meet 21st century needs.
In July 15, 2015 Tom Golisano, committed $25 million to expand Special Olympics’ health services globally for people with intellectual disabilities, a population that lacks access to adequate healthcare and faces significant health disparities. This was the largest single gift Special Olympics has received in its 47-year history. This gift and $12 million given in 2012 brings his total giving to Special Olympics to $37 million.
On May 27, the new Golisano Children's Hospital was dedicated.
On September 17, 2014, Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center received a $3.5 million gift, the largest in its history, from businessman and philanthropist Tom Golisano to support construction of an innovative new Golisano Center for Community Health. The Center will provide comprehensive integrated health care services to adults with special needs and their families, breaking down barriers to care, preventing individuals from falling through the cracks and helping them live with dignity. It is one of the few centers of its kind in the country.
On December 10 Lee Memorial Health System Foundation celebrated a community commitment of more than $80 million in donations and pledges toward its $100 million Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida capital campaign goal with a Ceremonial Groundbreaking, the new hospital is being built in Ft. Meyers. Tom Golisano donated $20 million to launch the campaign.
On October 9, Niagara University formally dedicated the state-of-the-art, $33 million B. Thomas Golisano Center for Integrated Sciences facility, which opened to Niagara University faculty and students at the beginning of the fall 2013 semester and changes the scientific research and teaching that happens on the campus.
For the 9th Year Tom Golisano was the Major Underwriter of the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting held in September. the focus was on the progress made since he announced a landmark $12 million gift to Special Olympics in 2012 to launch Healthy Communities.
On September 23, at the opening of the 2012 Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting, former President William J. Clinton announced that Tom Golisano would provide $12 million to expand Special Olympics’ health-related services to people with intellectual disabilities - one of the largest and most medically underserved disability groups in the world - which will allow for the launch of a new Healthy Communities initiative.
Mr Golisano was the major underwriter for the 7th year of the 2012 Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting.
On October 30, Tom Golisano was revealed as the donor of a $20 million matching gift to build a new children’s hospital, which will be named Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida. Part of the Lee Memorial Health System in Fort Myers, Golisano Children's Hospital of Southwest Florida is the only comprehensive children's hospital between St. Petersburg and Miami.
In July 2011, Mr. Golisano provided a $20 million gift to expand and modernize the existing Golisano Children's Hospital enabling the University of Rochester Medical Center to construct a new next-generation hospital for children. This gift along with a previous gift of $14 million in 2002 totals $34 million to the Children's Hospital.
A gift of $150,000 to Special Olympics International in September 2010 was given to expand training and increase the number of health care professionals capable of providing healthcare services to people intellectual disabilities.
Mr. Golisano made a challenge grant of $5 million in May 2010 for the new Golisano Children's Museum of Naples, which opened in March 2012 in Naples, Florida. The 30,000-square-foot Museum features ten spectacularly designed, child-scaled exhibits to invite sensory and intellectual exploration.
In April 2010, Mr. Golisano supported the creation of a new Center for Restorative Neurology and Rehabilitation at Unity Health System in Rochester, NY, with a gift of $10 million. The Center will serve adults and children in need of both inpatient and outpatient care for conditions that range from brain and spinal cord injuries to joint replacements to diseases such as multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy.
In November 2009, Mr. Golisano made a gift of $10.2 million to the Golisano Foundation to assure continued support for programs and services for individuals with intellectual and development disabilities.
Mr. Golisano made another gift in November 2009, the first to an organization outside New York State, of $4 million to Ave Maria University in Ave Maria, Florida. The gift funded the construction of the University's first indoor athletic facility, the Tom Golisano Field House.
In October 2008, Mr. Golisano committed $10 million to Niagara University to support construction of a new science building, the B. Thomas Golisano Center for Integrated Sciences, which will radically alter the teaching and research environment at the university. It is the largest gift the institution has received in its 152-year history. This marks the first major gift Mr. Golisano has made in Western New York outside of the Rochester region.
In June 2008, Mr. Golisano announced a gift of $4 million to the American Cancer Society and Colgate Rochester Crozier Divinity School to establish a new Hope Lodge and Hospitality House to accommodate cancer and transplant patients and their families from area and regional hospitals.
In September 2007, Mr. Golisano donated $10 million to Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) to create the Golisano Institute for Sustainability. The Institute, one of the first of its kind in the nation, focuses on research and education in sustainable design, pollution prevention, remanufacturing and alternative energy development. Establishment of The Golisano Institute for Sustainability is consistent with Mr. Golisano's ongoing support of the William J. Clinton Foundation. Golisano is a sponsor of the Clinton Global Initiative.
In November 2006, Mr. Golisano contributed $750,000 to the Veterans Outreach Center of Rochester, NY. The gift will be used to create the Charles P. Golisano Campus in honor of Mr. Golisano's brother who was killed in the Korean War. In October 2006, Mr. Golisano donated $1.5 million to Mercy Flight Central of Canandaigua, NY, helping to kickoff the drive to purchase a new Mercy Flight helicopter. In March 2006, he made an unprecedented $6 million gift to Our Lady of Mercy High School and Bishop Kearney High School. The gift represented the largest donation ever received from an individual or family by either private school located in Rochester.
In November 2005, Mr. Golisano donated $6 million to Central New York Children's Hospital at University Hospital in Syracuse, NY. In honor of the gift, the hospital was renamed the Golisano Children's Hospital of Central New York at University Hospital.
Also in 2005, Mr. Golisano continued his commitment to health care with a $9 million gift to Rochester General Hospital, helping to establish the B. Thomas Golisano Pavilion and Emergency Center.
In July of 2004, he made a $5 million gift to Hartwick College of Oneonta, NY, which will be used to build a new academic building for the social science and management programs. Also in July of 2004, Mr. Golisano donated $1 million to Heritage Christian Services of Rochester, a human resource agency supporting those with disabilities. In January 2004, Mr. Golisano contributed $2 million to WXXI Public Broadcasting in Rochester. The gift will help WXXI meet the federal mandate to begin digital broadcasting.
In October 2003, Mr. Golisano donated $5 million to Nazareth College, a private college in Rochester, NY. The gift was used to create the B. Thomas Golisano Academic Complex. In November 2002, Mr. Golisano donated $5 million to Thompson Health in Canandaigua, NY. The gift will be used to create the Golisano Center for Emergency and Diagnostic Medicine.
In April 2002, Mr. Golisano contributed $14 million to Strong Children's Hospital in Rochester, NY, enabling the hospital to begin a comprehensive fundraising campaign. In honor of the gift, the hospital, which is part of the University of Rochester Medical Center, is now known as Golisano Children's Hospital. Mr. Golisano's gift is the largest ever given to the Children's Hospital or the University of Rochester Medical Center by a living donor.
In February 2001, he made a $14 million gift to Rochester Institute of Technology, enabling that university to launch development of a new college that incorporates computing and the Internet with information sciences. The B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences, named for its founding donor, officially opened in May 2003. It offers students opportunities to earn Bachelor's and Master's degrees. Mr. Golisano honorary chaired RIT's capital campaign, "Powered by the Future." He is also a trustee of RIT.
In October 2001, Mr. Golisano made a $5 million contribution to Roberts Wesleyan College, the largest gift in the history of the small liberal arts college, located in Rochester, NY. The college will use the funds to construct the B. Thomas Golisano Library and Information Resource Center.
Mr. Golisano chaired the successful capital campaigns of two Rochester not-for-profit organizations, School of the Holy Childhood and the Al Sigl Center. He has also served on the boards of Rochester General Hospital, Norstar Bank, and St. John Fisher College.
Mr. Golisano is a strong advocate for the reduction of substance abuse and teen pregnancy and served on the executive committee of Prevention Partners, a Rochester coalition designed to combat illegal drugs and alcohol abuse.
Mr. Golisano is former chairman of Greater Rochester Fights Back (a coalition to combat illegal drugs and alcohol abuse), has served as a member of the board of directors of numerous non-profit organizations.
Mr. Golisano's interest in working to reduce substance abuse and teenage pregnancy at the local level is matched by his concern for the need to seek political reform. To that end Mr. Golisano became a founding member of the Independence Party of New York State. As a candidate of that party, he ran for governor of New York in 1994, 1998, and 2002.
In 2011, Mr. Golisano became the national spokesperson and major contributor to the national popular vote initiative, a movement that would guarantee the presidency of the United States to the candidate who gains the majority of popular votes across the country.
In July 2008, Mr. Golisano established Responsible New York, which is organized around a core set of values, beliefs and principles that are essential to guiding true political reform in the State of New York. Its quest is to create a political movement to return Albany to its rightful owners. Its pledge is help create an organization with no personal agendas, other than to give a voice to all New Yorkers - Democrats, Republicans, Conservatives and Independents from cities, suburbs and rural areas both upstate and downstate.
Responsible New York endorsed candidates in the New York State Senate and Assembly. Candidates were chosen in a non-partisan manner and only for their commitment and their ability to support Responsible New York, removing Albany from the grips of special interest and returning our government to the people who support it. And to truly change Albany it will also endorsed and supported candidates for Congress who will work to put people first.
Mr. Golisano is the founding sponsor (in 2005) and was the major underwriter for nine consecutive years (through 2013) of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting. The CGI convenes global leaders to devise and implement innovative solutions to some of the world's most pressing challenges in the areas of education, poverty, health and the environment.
A native of Irondequoit, NY, a suburb of Rochester, he is a graduate of the State University of New York at Alfred.