Dr. Bill Magee Jr., and Kathy Magee, Co-Founders and CEO and President of Operation Smile, respectively are the 2017 LEAD Hampton Roads First Citizen of Hampton Roads Award recipients. This is the first time the award has been given to a couple. LEAD is a program of the Hampton Roads Chamber. The Hampton Roads Chamber is the premier pro-business organization serving as an Impactful Advocate, Powerful Economic Partner, and Inspiring Ignitor in order to set the conditions for businesses to succeed. Programs such as LEAD and their First Citizen of the Hampton Roads Award exemplifies how the Hampton Roads Chamber functions as an Inspiring Ignitor for our region.
The Magees started Operation Smile in 1982. The organization helps children suffering from a cleft lip and palate by providing safe surgical care. Since their founding, Operation Smile has provided life-changing surgeries for more than 300,000 children in 60 countries.
Dr. Magee entered into the Plastic Surgery Practice in Norfolk, Va. in 1978 and became president of the group, which at the time was the largest private training program in the United States. In 2016, he stepped away from the practice to invest all of his effort and energy into Operation Smile. He has trained and mentored thousands of physicians worldwide. Dr. Magee was highlighted in US News & World Report’s issue “America’s Top Leaders” in November 2009 and was given the National Medal for Peace and Friendship Among Nations in Vietnam in 2009. In 2007, UNICEF presented the Magees with a special recognition on behalf of Operation Smile and he received the Distinguished Service Award from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
Kathy Magee travels overseas extensively to nurture and maintain key corporate, diplomatic and medical partnerships that enable Operation Smile to carry out its surgical missions. Kathy 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. She received 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.
Recognizing, supporting and celebrating exemplary leadership is at the core of the LEAD Hampton Roads mission. With the presentation of the First Citizen of Hampton Roads Award, LEAD not only shows our gratitude to someone who is a tireless and courageous leader in the face of adversity and complacency, but also holds the recipient up to the region as a role model. In particular, this award highlights the importance of thinking and acting regionally. Recipients exemplify the spirit and discipline of regionalism and excel at building collaborations that lead to the identification of common ground and success in achieving goals that benefit, directly and indirectly, all the citizens of greater Hampton Roads.