Robert D. Gioia, president of The John R. Oishei Foundation, will serve as speaker for Trocaire’s Fall 2019 Commencement ceremony on Dec. 18.
Gioia has served as president of the Oishei Foundation, one of Western New York’s largest private foundations with a mission to enhance the economic vitality and quality of life in the Buffalo Niagara region, since 2007. He is responsible for guiding the Foundation’s long-term strategic direction, empowering his staff to respond quickly to the needs of the community, and collaborating with community partners as they strive to improve the quality of life for all Western New Yorkers.
Prior to joining the Foundation, Gioia was a principal with the Food Group of Strategic Investments and Holdings, Inc., one of the most experienced equity acquisition groups in the country, from 1992 to 2007. He began his career in 1970 as part of the third generation of the Gioia family operating the Gioia Macaroni Company.
A native to Buffalo, Gioia is a community leader who has been dedicated to the betterment of the Western New York region for decades. He served as chairman of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) from 1990 to 1998 and oversaw the completion of the $120 million expansion of the Buffalo Niagara International Airport.
In 2007, Gioia was named as chair of Great Lakes Health, a not-for-profit corporation formed to “right size” the area’s health care systems, which oversees some of the area’s largest health care and research partners.
Gioia was appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo to serve as chair of the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation in 2012, where he has overseen the transformation of Buffalo’s waterfront that now attracts millions of visitors annually and has been an economic driver for the region.
Gioia has also served as board president of the Martin House Restoration Corporation and Nichols School, and chairman of the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. He has also served as director of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute and as a trustee of St. Lawrence University.
Gioia has received numerous awards, including the Buffalo Niagara Executive of the Year by UB School of Management (2009), the Distinguished Citizen Achievement Award from Canisius College (2013) and the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the Hope for Tomorrow Foundation (2013). He has received the Distinguished Service Award from the ECMC Lifeline Foundation (2014) and the prestigious “Spirit Award” by the Kaleida Foundation for his community service work (2015). He has also been one of The Buffalo News’ Citizens of the Year three times.
Gioia is a graduate of Amherst High School and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He resides in Buffalo with his wife Sally. They have three daughters, Allison, Lauren, and Carolyn, and two grandchildren, Lily and Jack.