A Village of Support: A Conversation With a WACAP Board Member

Laura McMillan

Laura McMillan, Chairperson of WACAP’s Board of Directors

Laura McMillan, the Vice President of Strategic Planning at Group Health, has been a member of the  WACAP Board of Directors since 2004, and has served as chairperson for the last year and a half. Laura had long had an interest in nonprofit governance, and joined the WACAP board after she and her husband, Dale Brandenstein, adopted two daughters from China.

We recently spent some time with Laura, and learned more about why she’s chosen to volunteer with the WACAP board, and what this work means to her.

What about WACAP’s mission and vision resonates with you?

Institutions can give kids food and clothing, but a family is essential for a child to have the opportunity to become a fully functioning and healthy individual.  Every child deserves the opportunity to know that they are some parent’s  joy and delight.  But for so many children this is not a given.  WACAP works with kids from next door and around the world to ensure that each child has this opportunity.  This all resonates with me!  It is a very high calling to do this work and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.

Reflecting on WACAP’s work, partnerships and achievements as you’ve helped lead the organization, what stands out to you among WACAP’s accomplishments? How would you describe WACAP’s impact?

The greatest accomplishment is the story behind the 200-300 kids that come home to their forever family every year.  I am so proud of the work that WACAP does to help every child, regardless of the age, abilities or physical health of the child.  Anything else the organization accomplishes is completely in service to that goal.  So, the awards that we’ve won (like the Evergreen Award earlier this year) or the opening of the Wisconsin office, or becoming one of the first Hague accredited agencies, or the move into the digital age with webinars, the start-up of programs in Ethiopia or more recently, Bulgaria – all of this is to help ensure that every child has a family.  The impact is unfathomable.  We know that because of WACAP, over 10,000 kids have homes and many others are able to stay in their homes because of the support WACAP provides.  How many people will those 10,000+ kids impact in the course of their lives?!

How do WACAP’s supporters extend our reach, enabling us to identify children in need of families and bring them home; why is their support so important?

It truly takes a village, and the WACAP supporters are the village.   The support of each of us is crucial to WACAP’s ability to help the next 10,000 kids.  Support takes many forms, from sending a check, to sending a thank you note to a staff person who helped you, to referring your neighbor or the person in the restaurant who admires your kids to the WACAP website, or volunteering on the board or in the office, or putting on a fundraiser in your living room, or helping us connect with foundations who have money to spend…. Every one of these forms of support is vital to WACAP’s ability to continue to serve kids.

Thank you so much, Laura, for sharing your thoughts, and for all of the incredible work you do on behalf of WACAP!




WACAP (World Association for Children and Parents) is one of the largest and most experienced international nonprofit adoption and child assistance agencies in the United States. Since 1976, we’ve placed over 10,000 children with loving adoptive parents and provided food, medical care and education to more than 200,000 children around the world.
This entry was posted in Adoption, Adoption Washington, International Adoption, Philanthropy, Staff/Board Spotlight, Volunteerism and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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