Upstate Foundation announces campaign leadership for Golisano Center for Special Needs 

Marking the one-year anniversary of Tom Golisano’s $3 million gift supporting the new Golisano Center for Special Needs, the Upstate Foundation announced the campaign leadership committee that will help raise an additional $3 million to match Golisano’s generosity. The campaign co-chairs are high-profile community members including Syracuse University basketball coach Jim Boeheim and his wife Juli, NewsChannel 9 anchor Christie Casciano, and NHL star and Baldwinsville native Alex Tuch.

Representatives from Upstate will also serve on the committee including Dr. Gregory Conners, chair of the department of pediatrics and executive director of the Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital; Dr. Henry Roane, division chief of the Center for Development, Behavior and Genetics; nationally recognized child development specialist Dr. Nienke Dosa; and Dr. Louis Pellegrino, director of the Child Development Program in the Center for Development, Behavior and Genetics.

“We could not be prouder or more excited to have this momentous campaign – which is squarely focused on better care for children with special needs – be spearheaded by individuals who are special in their own right,” said Eileen Pezzi, vice president for development at Upstate Medical University. “I can think of no better team to carry forward the torch Tom Golisano ignited this time last year.” 

Pezzi emphasized Golisano’s gift for the new center reflects his ongoing commitment to Upstate, building on his original naming gift of the Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital. She also indicated $1 million has already been raised this past year, despite the tremendous challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We join the others on this campaign team who are honored to lend support to this effort,” said Jim Boeheim, adding that Juli received a master’s degree from Syracuse University in child and family studies with a focus on children with disabilities. “The result will be a long overdue increase in access and resources for these kids with special needs and their families, and we are 100 percent behind making that dream a reality.” 

Boeheim’s statement is echoed by Upstate professionals. 

“We at the Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital care for sick and injured children faithfully and with great distinction,” Conners said. “However, we’ve recognized limitations in serving children with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and their families. Current wait lists for diagnostic assessment and services are six months to two years. Any wait time for parents seeking answers and medical treatment is too long – this time frame is simply unacceptable.”

“Funds raised through this campaign will give us the opportunity to recruit additional developmental health care professionals,” added Roane. “Our ability to link children to services earlier will greatly enhance their health and life outcomes. Dr. Connors and I are honored to share this important message with the Upstate family and pediatric professionals in our community.”

To learn more about the campaign for the Golisano Center for Special Needs, including making a donation, visit