Golisano Foundation leader Costello to retire

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After 23 years of leading the Golisano Foundation, Ann Costello will retire from her role as executive director in June.

Costello is credited with helping grow the foundation, whose assets total more than $60 million and which distributes $3 million annually. It has expanded to support organizations in southwest Florida and in western and central New York.

Established in 1985 by Paychex founder Tom Golisano, the Golisano Foundation helps individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“I want to thank Ann for her outstanding leadership and an unyielding dedication to the foundation’s mission over the past two decades,” says Tom Golisano. “She has been a relentless advocate for inclusion and dignity for people with intellectual disabilities in all aspects of their lives, working alongside hundreds of organizations to help them realize their vision and goals for innovative programs and services. Her work has made an enormous difference in the lives of people with intellectual disabilities and of their families.”

Ann Costello visiting Kenya in 2019 to witness Special Olympics Healthy Communities’ health work. (Photo: Golisano Foundation)

Under Costello’s leadership, the foundation launched and supported several partnerships and programs including the global Healthy Communities initiative with Special Olympics. She was instrumental in the development and launch of the Golisano Autism Center, the Golisano Pediatric Behavioral Health & Wellness Center, and Nazareth University’s Golisano Training Center. She also worked with St. John Fisher University to create the Golisano Institute for Developmental Disability Nursing, the first of its kind in the nation.

Move to Include, an initiative with WXXI and PBS stations in other states, is an example of Costello’s vision. It is designed to promote inclusion in all facets of life for people with intellectual and physical disabilities through programming and special events.

She also managed Golisano’s personal philanthropic endeavors including the three Golisano Children’s Hospitals in Rochester, Syracuse, and southwest Florida, and other gifts at local and regional universities and health care institutions.

“This has been the most fulfilling career I could have imagined,” Costello says. “I have absolutely loved my work at the Golisano Foundation and for Tom’s personal philanthropy. It’s been a privilege to work with Tom, the board of trustees, my team, and all the dedicated people at agencies we have funded who are so passionate about their work. We have accomplished a great deal together.

“We have reached new heights in philanthropy,” she adds. “We have challenged systems of care to see things not just as they are but as they could be. I’m eternally grateful for the challenging and rewarding career I’ve had.”

The foundation’s board plans to form a committee to appoint Costello’s successor.

Smriti Jacob is Rochester Beacon managing editor. The Beacon welcomes comments from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name.

One thought on “Golisano Foundation leader Costello to retire

  1. It is interesting to note that the Golisano Foundation, this system that gets things done, addresses the issues, implements them and has been extremely successful in their mission, is under the leadership of one person. I give Ann Costello a lot of credit. Does she have a budget? Of course, it is not a bottomless pit. But the GF has done extremely well in giving those with intellectual and developmental disabilities an opportunity to live life to the fullest. That takes leadership, period. I wish we had that leadership within the RCSD. I wish that the Rochester City School Board would have the same “can do” attitude and got things done. To date, the system is still broken resulting in a failed mission…..which should be to teach the way kids learn, to graduate them with a relevant education and to give them a future. I am certain the kids are capable, I’m equally certain that the current RCSD is incapable. They have a record adding up to decades of failure. And regarding dollars and cent? They have spent untold million in their failure. The RCSD ought to be ashamed of their inability to educate.
    That said, Congrats to Ann Costello! Enjoy your well deserved retirement.

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