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May 8, 2024

In Memory of Gloria Austin

Gloria Austin visiting the Urban League's downtown community habilitation program.

Gloria Austin visiting the Urban League's downtown community habilitation program on a tour of agencies marking the Foundation's 20th anniversary in 2005.

Gloria Austin, former Golisano Foundation Trustee who was instrumental in creating the Foundation with Tom Golisano in 1985, passed away at her home in Florida on April 15. She was 82.

Gloria was one of three early trustees, with Tom Golisano and Tom Clark, who formed “a kitchen cabinet” to support services that would create an environment of dignity and care for individuals with developmental disabilities. The Foundation began in 1985 with an initial gift of $90,000 from Tom Golisano. Gloria was instrumental in crafting the Foundation’s mission, a focal point of which is care and service with dignity.

As the mother of a son with developmental disabilities, Gloria was a tireless advocate for the rights and opportunities of people with disabilities and their families.

She strongly advocated for expanding opportunities for people with disabilities, including their involvement in a variety of community activities. She was a proponent of “person-centered” service and planning long before it was common practice or actively promoted.

In addition to her work with the Golisano Foundation, Gloria was involved in helping Tom in the formation of Paychex. She was also active in the early years of the Monroe County Coordinating Group for Mental Retardation, which was eventually incorporated as The Advocacy Center. She was also highly involved in the Mary Cariola Children’s Center and the School of the Holy Childhood.

She retired from the Board of Trustees in 2008 after 24 years of dedicated service.

Gloria will also be remembered for her long-time dedication to horses and carriage driving, including her establishment of several equestrian centers in New York and Florida.

See memorial.

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