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Press Release July 12, 2019


Hundreds of high school students from around the world – including Rwanda, the United Arab Emirates, Australia, Korea, Italy, Bolivia and the United States – will gather in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to take part in Operation Smile’s 28th Annual International Student Leadership Conference (ISLC) scheduled for July 15-21 at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem.

“This is an opportunity for like-minded students to gather and exchange ideas while enhancing their leadership and advocacy skills,” said Jennifer Krzewinski, associate vice president of Operation Smile Student Programs. “Attendees are active in their local Operation Smile student clubs where they raise awareness, funds and serve as advocates for children around the world who lack access to safe surgery,” she added.

Operation Smile is an international medical charity that has provided hundreds of thousands of free surgeries for children and young adults in low-and-middle income countries who are born with a cleft lip, cleft palate or other facial difference.

“The timing of the conference is meaningful as July is National Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness and Prevention Month,” said Kathy Magee, co-founder and president of Operation Smile. “We want to shine a light on this condition and offer options on how conference participants can highlight this topic in their school and community. We believe that everyone has a right to safe, well-timed and effective surgical care.”

Attendees will hear inspiring speakers share their insights on the topics of leadership, overcoming obstacles and advocating for change. They’ll also meet like-minded people committed to making a difference in the lives of children born with a cleft condition.

The conference will begin on July 15 and conclude on July 21.  Highlights include:

The Drum Collective: Monday, July 15 - All attendees will participate in a drum ensemble orchestrated by Raleigh based group, The Drum Collective. Students will be placed into small groups and are designated beats. The groups will then play simultaneously with all the attendees to create a holistic and harmonic sound.

Breakout Sessions: Tuesday, July 16 - Students will learn about different specialties in the medical field, comprising of plastics, pediatrics, international medicine and speech language pathology.

Keynote Speaker: Tuesday, July 16 – Raleigh resident, Danny Rosin is the Co-Founder of Band Together, a volunteer-driven organization that has donated over $10 million to 19 nonprofits. He also started the first Operation Smile student club in 1985 while in middle school. Nearly 35 years later, there are more than 900 Operation Smile student clubs across the globe. Rosin will deliver a speech filled with empathy, hope and the belief that you can do something to make a powerful difference in someone’s life.

Service Project: Friday, July 19 - Students will create over 500 goodie bags that will be delivered and handed out to patients, staff, and volunteers at UNC’s Craniofacial Center. The gesture is a “thank you” for their support and dedication to the care of patients born with cleft lip, cleft palate and other craniofacial anomalies. Students will gather from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. in Benson University Center on the campus of Wake Forest University to assemble the goodie bags. Several students, who were born with a cleft condition, will travel to the center to deliver the gifts at 1:30 p.m.

First Pitch: Friday, July 19 - One outstanding student will be chosen to throw out the first pitch at the Winston-Salem DASH baseball game. Students will get to enjoy the game while also advocating for children around the world.

For almost 30 years, Operation Smile Student Programs has empowered youth globally through advocacy, education, leadership and service. Elementary, middle and high school students have formed more than 900 Operation Smile student clubs worldwide promoting these values on their campuses and in their communities. ISLC further empowers these students to become leaders in their communities and teaches them to become responsible global citizens.

About Operation Smile: Operation Smile has provided hundreds of thousands safe surgeries for those born with cleft lip, cleft palate or other facial differences. With more than three decades of expertise, Operation Smile creates solutions that deliver free surgery to people where it’s needed most.  As one of the largest medical volunteer-based nonprofits, Operation Smile has mobilized thousands of medical volunteers from a wide range of medical specialties from more than 80 countries. Operation Smile engages public-private partnerships to advance health care delivery, train local medical professionals to provide surgical care for patients in their communities, donate crucial medical equipment and supplies, and increase access to surgical care so that everyone living with cleft is treated. Visit, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter





It takes as little as $240 and as few as 45 minutes to provide life-changing surgery and a bright, beautiful new smile to a waiting child.