Brigette Magee Clifford ’91 was 13 the first time she stood at the head of the table smacking scalpels and clamps into her dad’s hand as he repaired the cleft palate of a child in the Philippines. As the eldest of the children of Bill and Kathy Magee, founders of the nonprofit Operation Smile, she was used to having kids from all over the world running through the family’s home. Now young people stay at hers, attending leadership conferences and teaching each other salsa in the kitchen.
Clifford volunteers as an advisor to the organization’s student program, which has young people from more than 900 Operation Smile Clubs raising awareness and money, and traveling with medical teams to provide support and health education to patients and families.
Those clubs do everything from running lemonade stands to come up with the $240 it takes for a cleft repair, to attending the organization’s annual leadership conference, where this year 400 students from 20 countries gathered in teams.
“It’s cool to know you’re not only helping the child with the cleft; you’re also building a community of people who are passionate about this global issue,” Clifford says. “You hear all the time how this generation is so self-centered,” she continues. “You hear all the negative, and I feel so grateful that I get to see all the positive.”