Thomas Golisano 101: A Billionaire's Path to Philanthropy
Zatrun Published at May 25, 2024

Thomas Golisano, born on November 14, 1941, stands as an American billionaire businessman and a dedicated philanthropist. His story is a testament to the entrepreneurial spirit and the commitment to giving back to society. has delved deep into the life and career of Thomas Golisano to uncover the remarkable journey of this self-made billionaire.

From Paychex to Philanthropy

Golisano’s entrepreneurial journey began with the founding of Paychex in 1971. With a mere $3,000 and a credit card, he embarked on a path that would lead to the creation of a colossal empire. Initially serving as its President and CEO until October 2004, Golisano took on the role of Chairman of Paychex from October 1, 2004, and has been a Director of the company since 1979.

In April 2018, Golisano expanded his horizons by acquiring Greenlight Networks, a Rochester-based fiber internet provider. His investment of $100 million catapulted the company into new areas. However, in 2022, Golisano made the strategic decision to sell his controlling equity shares of Greenlight Networks to the investment firm Oak Hill, marking another milestone in his career.

Thomas Golisano: The Philanthropic Powerhouse

Thomas Golisano is not only a business magnate but also a philanthropic powerhouse. His philanthropic journey began with the founding of the B. Thomas Golisano Foundation in 1985. This foundation focuses on providing opportunities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. Golisano’s commitment to this cause is evident in his donations to organizations dedicated to supporting these individuals.

Golisano’s contributions extend far and wide. He has pledged or donated more than $300 million to various philanthropic causes. His generosity includes a $10 million donation to Niagara University for the B. Thomas Golisano Center for Integrated Sciences and a $4 million gift to Ave Maria University for the construction of a new field house. Furthermore, his $12 million donation to the Special Olympics launched the Healthy Communities initiative, which aims to increase year-round access to healthcare for people with intellectual disabilities.

The impact of Golisano’s philanthropy is also visible in the healthcare sector. He donated $20 million to build a new Golisano Children’s Hospital at Lee Health in southwest Florida, and a Golisano Neurology and Rehabilitation Center opened at Unity Hospital in Rochester, partially funded by his $10 million contribution.

In his dedication to education and fostering entrepreneurship, Golisano founded the Golisano Institute for Business and Entrepreneurship, set to open in the fall of 2023. This institute, oriented toward reducing the time and cost of business-related education, exemplifies Golisano’s commitment to empowering the next generation of business leaders.

Political Endeavors and Legacy

Golisano’s influence transcends the business and philanthropic realms. His involvement in politics is noteworthy. He ran for Governor of New York as a third-party candidate in 1994, 1998, and 2002. Although he was never elected, his percentage of the vote increased with each election, and he significantly impacted the landscape of New York politics. By receiving more than 50,000 votes each time, Golisano brought the Independence Party an automatic ballot line for the succeeding four years.

His political journey took a turn when he changed his party affiliation to Republican in 2005, with the Independence Party’s chairman’s blessing, signaling his intention to run for governor again. However, in February 2006, Golisano announced that he would not pursue the governorship.

Golisano’s philanthropic endeavors also extend to his advocacy for responsible property tax policies. He formed a PAC called Responsible New York and funded it with $5 million of his own money to support candidates for property tax cuts and election reform, regardless of party affiliation. Golisano’s philanthropic and political contributions have left a lasting legacy, impacting individuals, communities, and the broader landscape of New York politics.

Life Beyond Business and Philanthropy

Outside his remarkable career and philanthropy, Thomas Golisano’s personal life is equally intriguing. With three divorces behind him, Golisano is now married to former tennis player Monica Seles. His journey is a testament to the power of entrepreneurship, philanthropy, and advocacy, and his story continues to inspire those who follow in his footsteps.

In conclusion, Thomas Golisano’s life and career serve as an inspiration to aspiring entrepreneurs, philanthropists, and individuals seeking to make a positive impact on the world. His entrepreneurial journey, commitment to philanthropy, and involvement in politics have combined to create a legacy that will endure for generations to come.’s exploration has unveiled the extraordinary path of this billionaire business magnate turned philanthropic powerhouse.

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