Gloria Austin seemed destined to be a leading equestrian from birth. She grew up in the Southern Tier of New York State on a thousand acre farm. Her love of horses quickly became apparent to her parents, who gave her the opportunity to learn the responsibilities of horse ownership. Her mastery of the basics of horse care and horsemanship led to opportunities for her to successfully show and compete throughout her adolescent years in nearby Pennsylvania.
Gloria’s academic interests favored science and mathematics. Her scholastic success in this area, at Troupsburg High School, led her to the ivy covered walls of Alfred University where she continued to build on her interests in liberal studies. After her junior year, she and her former husband, B. Thomas Golisano, moved to the Rochester suburb of Irondequoit. Her thirst for academic stimulation was not easily sated. She quickly transferred to Empire State College’s Rochester campus where she finished her Bachelor’s Degree in the field of Community Psychology. She then went on to receive her Master’s in Public Administration at the State University of New York at Brockport.
Even during her years as a devoted wife and mother of two (Cynthia and Steven), Gloria realized that she had so much more to offer society. She became an administrator of planning services for the developmentally disabled, as well as the founder and manager of the New York Metropolitan area offices of Paychex, Inc. Her skills as an administrator were well known to all who had an opportunity to work with her in those fields. This involvement with the public and private sectors provided Gloria with the skills and resources that she needed to return to her love for all things equine.
Gloria’s reemergence in the horse world initially was as a riding enthusiast. She found, though, that her interests went well beyond the typical “saddling up and riding off “motivators that seem to drive most horse devotees. She studied the animal, its origins and its evolutionary and complementary roles in the history of mankind extensively. She was driven by an intense intellectual curiosity to take up driving horses, and, subsequently, collecting horse drawn vehicles that represented types, functions and historical eras.
Her evangelical need to share with others both her love and knowledge of the equestrian world led to the opening of the Mendon Equestrian Center in New York. Initially, it was a boarding operation, but quickly evolved into a training and breeding center as well. It was here that the beginnings of the Austin Carriage Collection began to take shape. Not coincidentally, this modest collection opened Gloria’s mind to the possibilities of what might happen if that collection were to be expanded. It was here that her vision for an all inclusive carriage museum was refined.
Gloria, and her then husband, Vernon Eddy, came to central Florida to enjoy her riding and driving interests in one of the horse capitals of the world. She sought out real estate that would give her the land and building opportunities to help make Gloria’s vision become reality. This mid-nineties investment was the beginning of what would become the Austin Carriage Museum and the Continental Acres Equine Resort. These would eventually lead to subsidiaries being formed that were quite diverse in purpose but easily traced to Gloria’s focus on the critically important relationship between mankind and the horse.
It has been said that this leader in the equine world possesses many talents. In the world of horses, she is considered one of its “Grande Dames”. She rose to that distinction by hard work, dedication and a vision of that has helped better the world’s understanding of the equestrian world.
She has competed at all levels in carriage driving. She is best known today as one of the world’s premier four-in-hand drivers. To complement this “in ring” involvement, Gloria serves on the Board of Directors of the Carriage Museum of America, founding member of the Four-in-Hand Club; and active memberships in the World Coaching Club , European Private Driving Club, and British Driving Society.
Her love of travel and carriage competition has allowed her to drive in thirteen countries on three continents with seventeen different horse breeds.
Gloria’s accomplishments have been acknowledged through an honorary directorship of the Carriage Association of America; recognized for her various accomplishments by the United States House of Representatives and documented its Congressional Record; appointed as an Honorary Kentucky Colonel by that state’s Governor; and commended by numerous other national and international organizations.
In addition to her continuing love affair with the horse world, Gloria and her partner, retired surgeon, Dr. Gene Serra, have developed into accomplished ballroom dancers. They have competed and performed for audiences throughout the United States. They recently captured a national ballroom dancing championship as amateur couple. No matter the area, it seems that Gloria continues to make it to the blue ribbon level.
She continues today as a lecturer in Florida. She can also be found keynoting at various equine conferences and workshops. Her knowledge and stage presence have made her an attractive and entertaining speaker.
The pages of this website will give you an even greater insight about this fascinating and unique leader in the equine world.