January 10, 2023

Golisano Foundation Executive Director Ann Costello Announces Retirement

Ann Costello speaking at a podium.
Ann Costello showing a Kenyan child a smartphone.

Ann Costello visiting Kenya in 2019 to see Special Olympics Healthy Communities’ health work that now extends to more than 100 countries with the support of Tom Golisano and the Golisano Foundation.

Ann Costello, Executive Director of the Golisano Foundation announced today that she will retire from her position on June 2, 2023. Costello has led the foundation for 23 years since 1999.

The Golisano Foundation is one of the nation’s leading foundations dedicated exclusively to helping individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It was established in 1985 by Tom Golisano, the founder of Paychex, Inc., a leader in the payroll, human resource, and benefits outsourcing industry.

“I want to thank Ann for her outstanding leadership and an unyielding dedication to the foundation’s mission over the past two decades,” said 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.”

A Golisano Foundation Board of Trustees committee will be formed to appoint a successor.

During her tenure Costello has witnessed the Foundation’s rapid growth and change in total Foundation assets now exceeding $60 million with distribution of funds at $3 million annually. She also oversaw the Foundation’s geographic expansion to support organizations in Southwest Florida in addition to western and central New York.

Costello redefined the Foundation’s role in the intellectual disabilities service arena as a proactive partner and catalyst for transformation.

Under her leadership, the Foundation has supported and launched numerous innovative partnerships and programs including the global Healthy Communities initiative with Special Olympics that is now advancing inclusive health for people with intellectual disabilities in more than 100 countries. Costello has traveled the world with Special Olympics health leadership to understand health access needs at the grassroots level to assure the allocation of funding for the greatest impact.

In her ongoing work to learn, understand and identify the growing and pressing needs for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, Costello has brought together key partners to collaborate on and establish innovative programs. She was instrumental and integral in the development and launch of the Golisano Autism Center, the Golisano Pediatric Behavioral Health & Wellness Center, Nazareth University’s Golisano Training Center and transition and employment services at several agencies to enhance quality of life and maximize the abilities of young adults with developmental disabilities.

She worked with St. John Fisher University to launch the first organization of its kind in the country, the Golisano Institute for Developmental Disability Nursing, dedicated to promoting positive change in developmental disability nursing.

Her vision for leveraging public media’s reach through news and programming to build more inclusive communities led to the launch of Move to Include with WXXI and PBS stations in several states. The initiative is now expanding its partnership to more than 40 additional stations.

Costello has also managed Tom Golisano’s personal philanthropic endeavors including the three Golisano Children’s Hospitals in Rochester, Syracuse, and southwest Florida, numerous healthcare and educational institutions including the Center for Restorative Neurology and Rehabilitation and Golisano Pavilion and Emergency Center at Rochester Regional Health, the Golisano Center for Community Health and Golisano Medical Oncology Center at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, Golisano Center for Integrated Sciences at Niagara University, Golisano Institute for Sustainability and Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences at RIT, the soon to open Golisano Community Engagement Center at Roberts Wesleyan and many more.

Costello has worked for more than 40 years in the non-profit sector, primarily in human service administration, philanthropy, and organizational policy development.

“This has been the most fulfilling career I could have imagined,” said Costello. “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. 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.”

Ann earned her master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy and Practice, and also served as a Research Fellow at the School’s City and Regional Planning. Ann also completed the Executive Program for Philanthropy Leaders at Stanford Graduate School of Business in 2007.

Prior to joining the Foundation, she worked for 15 years at the United Way of Greater Rochester serving as Director of Community Investment.

Ann has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors including serving on the Special Olympics New York Health Advisory Committee, was Commencement Speaker at Nazareth College and presented an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, named a Rochester Game Changer, by Special Olympics New York. She was presented the WXXI Associate’s Award and a Golisano Children’s Hospital Rochester, NY Miracle Maker Award recipient for Outstanding Commitment by an Individual. Ability Partners named her Humanitarian of the Year. The American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry presented her with the Katie Beckett Advocacy Award, which is given in memory of the advocacy of Katie Becket, the first community-based waiver participant to support self-determination. She is an honorary member of the NYS 7th District Dental Society and was a Commencement Speaker for Roberts Wesleyan College.

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