Operation Smile: The Second Generation of Hope

Continuing the journey set by their parents, the Magee siblings are working to expand compassion worldwide.

All the siblings of the Magee family have not only carried on their parents’ legacy of compassion which you can read about in our article Operation Smile, but each has risen to excellence in their own respective careers and causes.

Growing up, they accompanied their parents, William and Kathy Magee, on medical missions in foreign lands and pitched in to help where they could. The training they received while on these missions and the example set by their parents, shaped their own future goals in life. Since their youth, they’ve recognized the impact and joy of selfless dedication in restoring health and dignity to the people who need it most. They can see it in the smiles of those they have helped.

Photo by Eric Lusher

What have the Magee siblings been up to? Here is a snapshot of each of their contributions to the betterment of mankind …

William Magee, III, MD, DDS – Leading Plastic and Craniofacial Surgeon

The oldest sibling, William “Billy” Magee, III, first assisted Operation Smile teams when he was just 13 years old. Billy saw the suffering of children with craniofacial defects and the heartache of their families. The labor was intense as was the heat in which he worked and the poverty he saw, but all this proved to be an invaluable learning experience.  He saw the fruits of his family’s labor and the difference life changing surgeries made in the smiles of those children and their families. Their plight touched his tender heart and from then on, he dedicated his life to helping those who had no means to help themselves.

Billy went on to become a plastic surgeon of world renown. He attended the University of Maryland where he earned his dental degree. While there, he started the first dental mission and brought a team of dental students to Vietnam to share dental skills and practices with in-country dental professionals. This became the Operation Smile dental program that has expanded to many countries.

He graduated from George Washington University School of Medicine with his medical degree. In 2001, he entered the combined residency of general surgery and plastic surgery at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine.

After completing the six-year program, he poured his energy into craniofacial and pediatric plastic surgery at the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles where he has a fellowship. He specializes in cleft and palate, craniofacial reconstruction, facial reconstruction, hemangiomas, jaw reconstruction, ear reconstruction, and secondary burn deformities. Billy is the director of international programs at the University of Southern California and associate professor in the department of surgery and global health.

As a researcher in search of a cure and improved treatments for cleft deformities, he formed the International Family Study, examining 12,000 DNA samples drawn from affected families. So far, the study reveals that advanced maternal age, hypertension, poverty, and pollution are all contributing factors.

Billy is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and is chief of plastics and the director of the cleft lip and palate program at Shriners for Children Medical Center – Pasadena. He keeps photographs in his office of childhood days in Kenya when he helped care for children, their smiles serving as his inspiration that sustained him through his years of hard study and to this day. “Whenever you have times that are difficult and you remember the experiences that were so vivid, they can drive you through the challenges of your life,” he says in an interview with Distinction Magazine.

He has been honored with awards such as the 2018 Best Paper Award by the American Society of Maxillofacial Surgeons and DePuy Synthes. Billy’s written works include articles for scientific journals such as the Human Molecular Genetics, World Journal of Surgery, and Plastic Reconstructive Surgery Journal. His efforts in clinical, education, and research are supported in part by philanthropic donations.

Host Committee member, Dr. Billy Magee, at Operation Smile’s 35th Anniversary Smile Gala.

Brigette Magee Clifford – Inspiring Young People Involvement

Brigette, the oldest Magee sibling, went on her first mission to the Philippines with her parents when she was 13. While there, she applied her new skills as a scrub nurse that a hospital in Norfolk, Virginia had trained her for. She helped comfort the children before and after surgery. She was struck by the difference one can make in someone’s life, giving them a chance to start a new life with hope.

After returning to the U.S., she embarked on creating global awareness and helped start the Operation Smile Student Association. Students of all grade levels could get involved with creating a global movement for positive change. There are now hundreds of Operation Smile Student Clubs and associations around the world teaching students how to make a real impact on the world and help heal humanity.

Today, she works as a volunteer consultant for the student programs of Operation Smile and works closely with student programs to “inspire and mindfully engage young volunteers.” She advises and helps drive development, fundraising efforts, and awareness campaigns.

Brigette says, “We invest heavily in our youth with leadership seminars and international conferences as well as mission opportunities knowing very well that these leaders will become the means for us to take care of the child with the cleft for years to come.”

Brigitte also launched Kids Miles for Smiles bringing together fitness and fundraising for Operation Smile with a “kids helping kids” theme. She is married with four children and lives in Virginia. Husband Dave has served as an Operation Smile mission coordinator.

Brigitte was touched by the bravery and courage of the children being treated. She recalls, “Our home was always filled with children from around the world who had traveled to the U.S. to receive surgery.  Our home became their home.  I remember taking some of those children to school with me and feeling how difficult it was for them to be in such a strange place among so many different people.  But we gained so much.  Today, as a mother to four of my own children, I am determined to help them learn the value of a life of service because no matter how much you give, you get so much more in return.”

Todd Magee – Helping Mother Earth and Mankind

Todd slogging through Tough Mudder.

Time spent in medical missions with his parents inspired Todd Magee to launch a program at Georgetown University where he was attending. MBA students from the university could participate in various programs to raise funds for Operation Smile. Todd is a former professor at Georgetown University, McDonough School of Business.

For several years, Todd was a business partner at American By-Products Recyclers and Planet Earth Biodiesel. He was the fourth generation to move into the family-owned business of recycling used vegetable oil. During his tenure, the company diversified into producing biodiesel fuel.

Todd resides with his wife Charlotte and their adopted Vietnamese daughter in New Jersey. He is currently a Board Director of Operation Smile. Both he and his wife volunteer their time in fundraising efforts for Operation Smile in New York. His unique fundraising efforts include participation with fellow Operation Smile supporters in Tough Mudder, a team-focused grueling 10- to 12-mile obstacle course designed by British Special Forces.

Trevor H. Magee, MD – Leading Orthopedic Surgeon

Brother Trevor recalls traveling with his parents to Colombia where he and his sister, Kristie, worked in the burn unit. He remembers how his parents set an example of dedicated service in providing children the help they so desperately needed. He too followed in their footsteps and pursued a medical career.

Trevor is now an orthopedic surgeon specializing in hip and knee replacement. He attended George Washington University School of Medicine and graduated in 2004. While in residency in Pennsylvania State University, he became part of a medical team that headed off to Haiti after the devastating earthquake that hit the country in 2010. Trevor completed his adult reconstruction fellowship at the University of Utah. He is a board-certified fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgery and a fellow of the American Academy of Hip and Knee Surgeons.

Trevor is an expert in robotic hip and knee replacements. During his time at the Center for Precision Joint Replacement, he helped pioneer the Mako™ robotic-arm assisted technology and has been successfully using it on patients since 2011.

Photo by Laura Seitz, Deseret News
Dr. Trevor Magee, right with Dr. Jeremy B. McCandless volunteered to perform nine hip and knee replacement surgeries at Salt Lake Regional Medical Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, as part of Operation Walk USA 2011.

Trevor has volunteered his time to Operation Smile since 1996. He organizes fundraising events and service missions in various countries including the U.S., China, Colombia, Russia, and the Middle East. He also volunteers his time for Operation Walk that provides free joint replacement in the U.S. and developing countries and educates in-country health care professionals on advanced treatments and surgical techniques for hip and knee joint diseases. He is married to Marybeth and lives with their three children in Utah where he has his practice.

Kristie Magee Porcaro – Expanding the Global Community

The youngest sibling, Kristie, was 6 years old when her parents started Operation Smile. At age 8, she went with them to Colombia working in a burn unit changing bandages on orphans. She accompanied her parents on a medical mission in the Gaza Strip back in 1995 caring for both Palestinians and Israelis. While there, she taught children important life skills such as dental hygiene, nutrition, and burn care and prevention.

Kristie attended and graduated from Villanova University with a nursing degree. For a time, she worked for CCS in Manhattan as a fundraising consultant for clients such as UNICEF and Doctors Without Borders. She currently serves as Senior Vice President, Strategic Partnership and Development of Operation Smile. Kristie works with corporations and individuals aligning synergies with Operation Smile’s global work. She resides in Virginia with her three children and husband, Erik Porcaro, who was a mission coordinator for Operation Smile.

(Photo by Chance Yeh)
Operation Smile Co-founders Dr. Bill and Kathy Magee and Senior Vice President, US and Global Philanthropy, Kristie Magee Porcaro celebrate Operation Smile’s 35th Anniversary New York Smile Event.

A Family Legacy

Operation Smile CEO and Co-founder, Dr. Bill Magee notes, “There is something about helping a child that unites us as families and as a society.  It crosses borders, overcomes language barriers, and unites nations.  It is as simple as bringing a smile to the face of a child.  It is only natural that families would get involved because the work we do doesn’t impact the child alone, it impacts everyone that child comes into contact with on a daily basis.”

He reflects on his family’s journey, “Our resolve to deliver life-changing and life-saving surgery to people where it’s needed most goes to the core of who we are.“

The legacy carries on as children of the siblings have already begun getting involved with Operation Smile in far away places where the need for help is never quenched. For the Magee family, there is no greater sense of fulfillment than when willing hearts are called and go to heal and transform lives worldwide.