At NASDAQ, Wells Fargo Gives Big Check to Operation Smile Co-Founders

I have known -- and written about -- the good work of our friends at Wells Fargo for years. I caught up with them again last week at NASDAQ on Times Square. I was not surprised to learn that they are continuing to create meaningful partnerships that benefit the South Asian community.

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From L to R: Shuyi Wang, Asian Segment Manager at Wells Fargo; Della Ng,
Vice Pres. of Integrated Marketing at Wells Fargo; Rahul Baig, Managing Director
at Wells Fargo; Dr. William Magee, CEO & Co-Founder of Operation Smile;
and Kathleen Magee, President and Co-Founder of Operation Smile.
Photo Credit - Jay Mandal, On Assignment. Image courtesy of JINGO Media.

Specifically, they were there to present the co-founders of Operation Smile a check for $50,000. William P. Magee, Jr., D.D.S., M.D. - Operation Smile Co-Founder and C.E.O., and Kathleen S. Magee, B.S.N., M.Ed., M.S.W. - Operation Smile Co-Founder and President accepted the Wells Fargo contribution. Bill, a pediatric plastic surgeon and Kathy, a nurse and clinical social worker, were delighted to accept the check for their organization.

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Dr. William and Kathleen Magee with patient in India. Photo: Operation Smile.

Wells Fargo chose to kick off the Diwali season by continuing its collaboration with Operation Smile, an international medical charity, to help provide life-changing surgeries for children and young adults in India born with cleft lip and cleft palate.

I was delighted to meet Bill and Kathy, a husband-wife team known for their decades of dedication to helping children all over the world.

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From L to R: Dr. William Magee, CEO & Co-Founder of Operation Smile;
Shuyi Wang, Asian Segment Manager at Wells Fargo; Rahul Baig,
Managing Director at Wells Fargo; Della Ng, Vice Pres. of Integrated Marketing
at Wells Fargo; Kathleen Magee, President and Co-Founder of Operation Smile.
Photo Credit - Jay Mandal, On Assignment. Image courtesy of JINGO Media.

Operation Smile, headquartered in Virginia Beach, Virginia, is an international children's medical charity with a presence in more than 60 countries, whose network of more than 5,400 medical volunteers from over 80 countries is dedicated to helping improve the health and lives of children.

Since its founding in 1982, Operation Smile has provided more than 220,000 free surgical procedures for children and young adults born with cleft lip, cleft palate and other facial deformities. To build long-term self-sufficiency in resource poor environments, Operation Smile trains doctors and local medical professionals in its partner countries so they are empowered to treat their local communities.

Operation Smile also donates medical equipment, supplies and provides year-round medical treatment through its worldwide centers.

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From L To R: Della Ng, Vice President of Integrated Marketing at Wells Fargo;
Rahul Baig, Managing Director at Wells Fargo; Kathleen Magee,
President and Co-Founder of Operation Smile; Dr. William Magee,
CEO & Co-Founder of Operation Smile. Photo Credit: Jay Mandal,
On Assignment. Image courtesy of JINGO Media.

I never realized that cleft lip and cleft palate was damaging to more than self-esteem. I did not know that this condition could keep a patient from nursing, eating, or speaking. I had absolutely no idea. I spoke to Kathy, a nurse and clinical social worker, on the reality of this tragic health condition. She told me:

A child born with a cleft lip is unable to adequately feel their mouth, not only for eating, but for speech and articulation. The deformity prevents proper breathing and obviously produces a significant disfigurement which isolates them from not only their peer group but many members in society.

The child with a cleft palate is unable to suck, to eat properly, or to speak intelligibly. They are often isolated and tormented. Uncorrected, that child would never achieve their innate ability to succeed. If we don't take care of that child, there's no guarantee that anyone else will.

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"A child with a cleft palate is unable to suck, to eat properly, or to speak intelligibly.
They are often isolated and tormented," co-founder Kathy Magee told me.
Photo: Operation Smile.

As my own foundation is focused on supporting young global leadership, I was thrilled to learn that Operation Smile feels the need to pass the torch on to the next generation through hands on infield orientation.

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From L To R: Dr. William Magee speaking about Operation Smile.
Seated are Della Ng, Rahul Baig and Kathleen Magee. Photo Credit:
Jay Mandal, On Assignment. Image courtesy of JINGO Media.

Bill is as casually gracious as his wife. He spoke to me about the need of institutional succession and how important it was for him to have young leadership engaging with Operation Smile in the field and at home. He told me before the press-conference:

We have developed and emphasized a Student Programs team as a critical part of the Operation Smile mission and culture ever since we took our thirteen-year-old daughter with us on our first mission.

The program incorporates high school and middle school students into the mission experience, helping develop sensitivity and leadership for the future at an early age.

We have seen the lessons that these students learned in this environment help set their values in an unbelievably productive and positive way.

Wells Fargo has specifically targeted the Hindu holiday of Diwali to bring the next wave of support from Operation Smile to India. Diwali is as culturally significant in India as Christmas is here. From Oct. 16, 2015 to Nov. 30, 2015, Wells Fargo encourages customers to send their own smiles and holiday goodwill to those in India by making a donation to Operation Smile. Customers can make a donation and learn more about the company's collaboration with Operation Smile by visiting www.wellsfargo.com/diwalismiles.

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"If we don't take care of that child, there's no guarantee that anyone else will,"
Operation Smile co-founder Kathy Magee continued. Photo: Operation Smile.

I have known Rahul Baig, managing director, New York Corporate Banking at Wells Fargo, for several years. I spoke with him on importance of corporate social responsibility. He explained:

Wells Fargo has a long history of supporting cultural celebrations that are important to our customers, and Diwali is no exception. In fact, supporting and being a part of the communities where our customers live, work and grow their businesses is part of our DNA at Wells Fargo, and this is especially true for the Asian Indian community.

Wells Fargo must be commended for their leadership in helping children around the world. With this initiative alone, the company is expected to fund hundreds of surgeries in India.

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Dr. William Magee, CEO & Co-Founder of Operation Smile with a child in India.
Photo: Operation Smile.

Wells Fargo will also be celebrating Diwali with the Asian Indian community by participating in a series of regional events, including some of the largest melas and concerts throughout the country. This financial powerhouse will continue its holiday tradition of offering customers with an opportunity to order Diwali-themed debit cards, with several new designs for 2015.

Kathy planted the seed of me joining them on a trip in the future to see first hand how the work performed by their all-volunteer medical team transforms lives.

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From L To R: Jim Luce, author, Rahul Baig, Dr. William and
Kathleen Magee unveiling one of Wells Fargo's Diwali debit card designs.
Photo Credit: Jay Mandal, On Assignment. Image courtesy of JINGO Media.

Dr. William and Kathleen Magee are truly thought leaders and global citizens. Active almost three decades, Bill, Kathy -- and their incredible cadre of global volunteers -- are changing the world -- one smile at a time.

See Stories by Jim Luce on:

Children | Corporate America & CSR | Health | India & Indian-American Culture
| New York | Philanthropy | Social Responsibility | Young Global Leadership

The James Jay Dudley Luce Foundation (www.lucefoundation.org) supporting young global leadership is affiliated with Orphans International Worldwide (OIWW), raising global citizens. If supporting youth is important to you, subscribe to J. Luce Foundation updates here.

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