Co-founder and President Kathleen S. Magee, B.S.N., M.Ed., M.S.W., a former nurse and clinical social worker, founded Operation Smile in 1982 with her husband, William P. Magee Jr., D.D.S., M.D. Ms. Magee serves as the president of Operation Smile on a full-time, volunteer basis and is a lifetime member of the Board of Directors.
A dedicated advocate for children around the world, Ms. Magee travels overseas extensively to nurture and maintain key corporate, diplomatic and medical partnerships that enable Operation Smile to carry out its surgical missions. She has been instrumental in establishing several Operation Smile international foundations, which handle all of the logistical aspects of the medical missions and has led a majority of the organization’s fact finding missions.
Ms. Magee is deeply involved with Operation Smile's Student Programs, which provide the opportunity for students to learn about volunteerism and support Operation Smile's work by raising funds and awareness. Since the mid-1980s, Student Programs have grown to involve tens of thousands of students in more than 1,000 Student Associations around the world.
Ms. Magee's work on behalf of children around the world has led to the receipt of numerous awards and honors including the first $1 million Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize in 1996 for "… exemplary and significant contributions to ease human suffering" and the Servants of Peace Award from the UN representative to the Vatican in 1997. In 1999, the Magees received the Golden Plate Award, "representing the many who excel in the great fields of endeavor" by the American Academy of Achievement. In February 2004, Ms. Magee was inducted into the Toledo-based Medical Mission Hall of Fame, in honor of making a difference in the health of her fellow human beings; and in 2004, the organization was awarded The Humanitarian Rose Award from The People’s Princess Charitable Foundation, Inc., London, England. In 2005 Ms. Magee was awarded the Operation Smile Lifetime Volunteer Achievement Award, and in 2007, USAID presented the Magees with the President’s Call to Service Award from President George W. Bush.
Ms. Magee is the recipient of honorary degrees from Fordham University, Mt. St. Mary's College, Loyola College, Old Dominion University, College Misericordia and Denison University and was inducted into the Alumni Association Hall of Fame at the University of Maryland in 2000. In 2014, she received a prestigious honorary doctorate from the Karolinska Instituet in Sweden. She also serves as a member of the Executive Committee for the Hilton Laureates Collaborative.
A New Jersey native, Ms. Magee received her B.S.N. from College Misericordia in Pennsylvania, her M.Ed. from the University of Maryland and her M.S.W. from Norfolk State University in Virginia. She also completed graduate work at the University of Virginia and the Jung Institute in Switzerland. The Magees reside in Norfolk, Va., and have five grown children, all of whom have served on medical missions and are active in volunteer work for Operation Smile. In addition, the Magees have 14 grandchildren.