Two leading charities that provide surgery for children in the developing world with cleft lips and other facial deformities announced plans Monday to merge, ending years in which the groups feuded and competed for donations, writes The Virginian-Pilot.
The boards of Operation Smile , in Norfolk, Va., and Smile Train, in New York, have approved the union, which grew quickly out of talks started by the charities’ leaders in December.
“We can reach more children working together than working separately,” said Howard Unger, chief operating officer of the older and larger Operation Smile, who will retain his title and manage day-to-day operations for the new group, Operation Smile Train.
Operation Smile was started in 1982 by the plastic surgeon William McGee and his wife, Kathleen.
Smile Train was founded in 1999 by the software magnate Charles Wang and Brian Mullaney, a former Operation Smile official who broke with the McGees.
Smile Train has outpaced its predecessor in fund-raising, taking in $92-million in 2009 compared with $33-million for Operation Smile.
Smile Train ranked No. 92 on The Chronicle’s rankings of the 400 organizations that collect the most from private sources.