Tom Golisano Biography

“Be brave, be fair, act with integrity and above all, always strive to create a good deal for everyone."

Tom Golisano — entrepreneur, philanthropist, and civic leader — is the founder of Paychex, Inc., the nation’s largest human resource company for small to medium-sized businesses, providing integrated human capital management solutions for payroll, benefits, human resources, and insurance services for more than 730,000 clients in the U.S. and Northern Europe. Mr. Golisano’s vision, perseverance, and action have left an indelible mark on a broad spectrum of issues that touch our lives - in business, healthcare, education, voter policies, politics, and tax reform. His continuing investments are helping drive the success of numerous businesses and start-ups. His personal philanthropic contributions to hospitals — including three children’s hospitals that bear his name — and numerous educational institutions and other organizations exceed $330 million. He has dedicated more than $95 million to advancing inclusive health around the world, including $67 million to Special Olympics, helping to close the significant gap in access to care for people with intellectual disabilities.  A fierce advocate for dignity and inclusion, in 1985 Tom Golisano applied his pioneering spirit to establish the Golisano Foundation to make the world a better place for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. With more than $60 million in gross assets, it is one of the largest private foundations in the U.S. devoted to supporting programs for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities awarding about $3 million annually to non-profit organizations in Western New York and Southwest Florida.

Full Bio

B. Thomas Golisano is an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and civic leader who has demonstrated an ongoing dedication and commitment to building innovative businesses, supporting numerous non-profit organizations, and advocating for inclusive health and several civic issues.

Mr. Golisano is the founder of Paychex, Inc., the nation’s largest human resource company for small to medium-sized businesses, providing integrated human capital management solutions for payroll, benefits, human resources, and insurance services for more than 730,000 clients in the U.S. and Northern Europe. Tom Golisano served as Paychex’s president and chief executive officer from 1971, when he founded the company, until October 2004, when he retired from his position as president and CEO. He continued to serve as Chairman of the Board until December 1, 2021, when Martin Mucci succeeded him and assumed that role. With 45-plus years of industry expertise, Paychex has 16,000 employees and pays one in 12 U.S. private-sector employees. It is headquartered in Rochester, New York.

Mr. Golisano and Paychex have consistently been recognized by business, financial and national media. Mr. Golisano was listed among the FORBES top 10 bosses in the U.S. for three consecutive years; the annual ranking is based on chief executives who provide the best balance between their compensation and shareholder return.

His investments have helped drive the success of numerous businesses and start-ups including BlueTie, Botkeeper, Circinus Medical Technology, Cognivue, Council Rock, CurAuegis, Dinamic OR, Fairly Tax, Greenlight Networks, Kickfurther, Kodak, Line 5, Mykonos Software, Pictometry International,  Post Process Technologies, SafeSite, Store to Door, TrueFrame, Twinlab, Viridi Parente, and Zoom Tan.

In February 2020, his first book, Built, Not Born was launched, providing Tom Golisano's trademark direct and often humorous style, and no-nonsense advice across all phases of business ownership. The self-made billionaire's guide for entrepreneurs became a best-seller, hitting number five on the list of nonfiction best-sellers released by Publisher's Weekly and number seven on the Wall Street Journal's list.

In February 2021, his second book, The Italian Kid Did It, Mr. Golisano shares the political shenanigans, behind the scenes stories, significant characters from his remarkable life, and key insights to thrive in your career.

In 1985 Mr. Golisano launched his first philanthropic endeavor by establishing the Golisano Foundation, which is now one of the world’s largest foundations that awards grants to organizations providing opportunities for those with intellectual disabilities. His philanthropic contributions, both personal and through the Golisano Foundation, have exceeded $330 million helping hospitals, educational institutions and many other organizations. Three children’s hospitals bear his name.

His commitment to educational excellence includes the B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences and the Golisano Institute for Sustainability at RIT. Niagara University’s B. Thomas Golisano Center for Integrated Sciences, the Golisano Training Center at Nazareth College, the Golisano Community Engagement Center at Roberts Wesleyan College and many more.

In November 2022, Mr. Golisano established Golisano Institute for Business & Entrepreneurship, a not-for-profit two-year certificate program comprised exclusively of business-related subject matter. Golisano Institute is aimed at reducing the time and cost of a traditional business school education. Golisano expects to welcome its first class of students in fall 2023. 

His support of state-of-the-art health care includes three Golisano Children’s Hospitals that bear his name in Southwest Florida, Syracuse and Rochester NY; the Golisano Center for Restorative Neurology and Rehabilitation at Rochester Regional Health, and the Golisano Emergency Centers at Rochester Regional Health and Thompson Health.

His global commitment to advance inclusive health for people with intellectual disabilities has exceeded $95 million supporting the Golisano Autism Center, the Golisano Center for Special Needs at Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital, the Golisano Institute for Developmental Disability Nursing at St. John Fisher College, the Golisano Center for Community Health at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, the Golisano Pediatric Behavioral Health & Wellness Center at URMC, the Golisano Medical Oncology Center at Niagara Memorial and more. The launch of Special Olympics Healthy Communities in 2012 has improved health care for people in more than 120 countries on six continents.

His advocacy for civic and political causes have encompassed founding the Independence Party in New York State, which acquired ballot status in 1995; a three-time run for NYS governor; serving as national spokesperson and major contributor to the National Popular Vote initiative, a movement that would guarantee the presidency of the U.S. to the candidate who gains the majority of popular votes across the country; establishing Responsible New York, a political movement to return Albany to its rightful owners – the tax payers; launching Tax My Property Fairly in 2018, an online resource for property owners in Upstate NY to get information and tools to fight for fair property taxes; advocating for the reduction of illegal drugs and alcohol abuse and teen pregnancy; and becoming the major underwriter for eight consecutive years (through 2013) of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting.
In addition to his significant philanthropic support in Western New York, Mr. Golisano demonstrated his commitment to the region and its economic climate by purchasing the Buffalo Sabres of the National Hockey League, on March 14, 2003. He said that it was important to keep the team in Buffalo because it is an economic and community asset. He sold the team in 2011 with the stipulation that the team remains in Western NY.
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 Kodak and several private companies and institutions.

Born in Irondequoit, New York, Mr. Golisano graduated from Alfred State College in 1962 with a degree in general business management. He was presented with 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 two children, six grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.