Kathleen S. Magee, B.S.N., M.Ed., M.S.W

Kathleen S. Magee, B.S.N., M.Ed., M.S.W, a former nurse and clinical social worker, co-founded Operation Smile in 1982 with her husband, William P. Magee Jr., D.D.S, M.D.

Operation Smile:

Operation Smile is a private, not-for-profit volunteer medical services organization providing reconstructive surgery and related health care to indigent children and young adults in developing countries arid the United States. A dedicated advocate for children around the world, Ms. Magee participates in many of operation Smile’s annual international surgical mission to the developing world and leads the majority of its fact-finding missions.

Ms. Magee serves as the president of Operation Smile on a full-time, volunteer basis and is a life time member of the Board of Directors. She travels overseas extensively to nurture and maintain key corporate, diplomatic and medical partnerships that enable Operation Smile In 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. The Magees envisioned and launched World Journey of Hope ‘99, the largest surgical mission in history dedicated to correcting facial deformities among sati of the world’s neediest children. The nine-week mission, the first-ever of its kind, transformed the lives of more than 5,300 children and young adults in 17 developing countries and in 10 cities across the United States.

Ms. Magee is committed to bringing about positive change and improved medical care in Operation Smile's mission countries. She vats part of the volunteer medical team that opened the first-ever burn unit in Nablus, West Bank, in December of 1996. She also helped establish a Philippine Scholarship Program to provide indigent children with schooling and meals. In her hometown of Norfolk Va., she has established support groups for trauma victims and craniofacial patients, as well as con meted mental health and play therapy for families and children.

Ms. Magee is deeply involved with Operation Smile's Student Program, which provides the opportunity for students to learn about volunteerism and support Operation Smile’s work by raising funds and awareness. Operation Smile’s commitment to student volunteers began when Ms. Magee’s eldest daughter, Brigette, then 15, traveled on the first Operation Smile mission as a volunteer. Today, Ms. Magee continues to lead students in team-building activities throughout the year and during Operation Smile’s annual International Student Leadership Conference. The Student Program has grown to involve an estimated 5,000 students in more than 250 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:

  • $1 million Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize for ". . .exemplary and significant contributions to ease human suffering" - 1996
  • The Servants of Peace Award from the UN representative to the Vatican - 1997
  • The Magees received the Golden Plate Award "representing the many who excel in the great fields of endeavor" by the American Academy of Achievement - 1999
  • In April , Kathleen and Dr. Magee were awarded a 2001 Common Wealth Award of Distinguished Service for outstanding achievement in public service - 2001
  • Operation Smile received the Antonio Feltrinelli Prize for Exceptional Endeavors of Outstanding Moral and Humanitarian Value by the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, which represents the National Academy of Science in Italy - November, 2001
  • The Christopher Columbus Fellowship foundation awarded Dr. Magee a Frank Annunzio Award - October, 2002. The awards honor living Americans who are improving the world through ingenuity and innovation.
  • The American Medical Association’s Pride in the Profession Award for 2000 and the Distinguished Service Award from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons - 1998
  • Kellogg’s Hannah Neil World of Children Award, a major international award that recognizes those who make a world of difference in the lives of children across the globe - 1998


  • B.S.N. from College Misericordia in Pennsylvania
  • M.Ed. from the University of Maryland
  • M.S.W from Norfolk State University in Virginia
  • Graduate work at the University of Virginia and the Jung Institute in Switzerland.
  • Honorary degrees:
    • Fordham University
    • Mt. St. Mary’s College
    • Loyola College
    • Old Dominion University
    • Villanova University
    • Denison University


  • Inducted into the Alumni Association Hall of Fame at the University of Maryland - 2000.
  • Member of the nominating board for the Kellogg’s Hannah Neil World of Children Award.

Always eager to share the Operation Smile story, Ms. Magee has been a featured guest on "Montel Williams" and appeared on "Dateline NBC;" "CBS Sunday Morning," "48 Hours" and “NBC Nightly News." She often represents Operation Smile during award ceremonies, including a 1997 presentation honoring the founder of Operation Smile Vietnam by U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala.