MICHAEL J. BILLONI: Managing Partner, Billoni Associates
Ask Michael J. “Mike” Billoni to describe himself and most often he will answer with one word: “Rainmaker.”
It’s a word that is Native American in origin and became part of the English language around 1775 with a meaning of, “… a professional who is great in his field—seemingly magical.” Today that definition has evolved a bit to include, “… a person whose influence can initiate progress or ensure success.”
Either way, if you know Mike Billoni, you know he is a great guy who can initiate progress in any kind of project, using ways that magically always seem to ensure success.
Then again, Mike learned at a young age the value of hard work when he started doing odd jobs at his family’s Colvin Cleaners business in Kenmore, New York. He credits those early life responsibilities with schooling him in community relations and customer service skills.
From those days Mike’s career skyrocketed. In 1970, he became a “Clark Kent” sports stringer for The Tonawanda News as a sophomore at Cardinal O’Hara High School in Tonawanda, N.Y., which led him to a degree in journalism at the State University of New York at Morrisville and a fulltime sports writing career at The Tonawanda News and The Buffalo Courier Express, until its closing in the fall of 1982.
An “inside scoop” story he wrote in 1983 for The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle about the Buffalo Bisons Franchise needing a buyout angel introduced Mike to Buffalo’s well-known, Rich Family, Founders of Rich Products Corporation. It further connected them following Robert E. Rich Jr.’s purchase of the Bisons, when the team hired Mike as its Director of Publicity, Promotions, and Marketing.
The partnership between the two spanned from 1983 to 1996 and included Mike’s promotion to Bisons’ Vice-President and General Manager as well as his renown around the league and the Western New York Community as “The P.T. Barnum of Triple A Baseball.
Then came the day when Mike’s life, as he knew it, was forever changed. In talking about it he recalls the date without hesitation, “September 17, 1992.”
He was on a bicycle ride on a perfect autumn day in Pt. Abino, Ontario Canada when a car operated by a drunk driver struck his bike and launched Mike through the air, landing him in a crumpled mass of extensive internal damages and a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI.) To this day, Mike calls it a miracle that he was wearing his helmet. It saved his life.
Some 30 years later, while successfully managing his TBI, Mike is actively working at Billoni Associates with his wife, Deborah, magically shepherding successful client projects in communications, community and government relations, PR/media, book writing/publishing. and financial management. However, he’s added a new category to his long list of professional accomplishments, that of award-winning public speaker and mentor.
Mike has taken the near-death tragedy of his bicycle accident— the associated mental and physical challenges that led him through a decade of struggles—and turned them into a life story he openly shares as inspiration for others who are impacted with like challenges.
In recognition for his courage in publicly revealing the personal details of his healing journey, on March 11, 2020 Mike received “The Courage to Come Back Award” from the Mental Health Advocates of Western New York. In his acceptance speech Mike stated, “All of us can help by not being afraid to reach out and talk to someone who has suddenly gone quiet, or would rather stay under the covers than be up and around. Sometimes they just need someone to talk with.”
In addition to his Billoni and Associates work, Mike continually gives back to the community through his many volunteer and philanthropic projects in Buffalo and Western New York. He and Deborah, reside on Grand Island, N.Y., where he serves as treasurer of the Rotary Club of Grand Island.
DEBORAH A. BILLONI: Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer
Deborah is a senior finance leader and operations executive with nearly 20 years of experience in both private and nonprofit sectors. She possesses a wealth of knowledge and a highly-developed skillset that have led to leadership roles as a controller, s treasurer, director of finance, and economic strategist/growth forecaster. She oversees financial management projects for Billoni Associates Clients.
Deborah’s razor sharp management style produces program and financial reporting that meets all aspects of compliance. She can provide support to protect the financial assets of an organization and encourage growth, while her advanced tech skills allow her to support operations at extremely high levels, and manage external support when demands dictate.
Deborah has enjoyed years of high-level positions, consulting, and participating as a board member for small business DBA’s, partnerships, LLCs, corporate, government and nonprofits. She has led teams in the successful preparation and negotiation of contracts on varied levels of business and is particularly noted for her abilities as a strategic advisor/mentor to executive leadership teams in need of financial expertise
Ultimately, Deborah is a business strategist who can build scalable and effective financial operations for any size business or nonprofit.