A mother of two sons, Schell said being a parent “reminds you how vulnerable children are, and how fleeting childhood is.” Thomas was impatient with the slow-moving government systems that frequently impede the foster care adoption process, a concern shared by Schell. Thomas used his considerable public persona and resources to change things, Schell said, and his legacy of giving back still inspires the Wendy’s family.
Schell’s goals for the Foundation include bolstering the Foundation’s signature program, Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, which issues grants for social work professionals to receive specialized training in an evidence-based, child-focused recruitment model. The program is up to three times more effective than typical adoption strategies, she explained. Several U.S. states are on board to make this model their official approach to adoption, and the Foundation has an ambitious strategy to scale the program in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Once that happens, “we’ll dramatically increase the number of adoptions in America and end the crisis of children ‘aging out’ of foster care. My goal as chair is to ensure the Foundation has adequate resources and is maximizing its opportunity to partner with those who share our commitment.”
As a business, Wendy’s faces many of the same challenges as others in the restaurant space – expanding sales and managing costs that pressure operating margins in a highly competitive marketplace. Schell believes that Wendy’s franchisees, operators and suppliers are crucial proponents of the brand’s success. The company’s commitment to food quality, international growth and a well-developed franchise development program are strengths as the brand nears its 50th anniversary in 2019.
One of the challenges for the Foundation remains educating and convincing the decision-makers in government (government systems hold the custody of children in care) who can co-invest and implement the model proven through the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program. “Finding a family for every child who is waiting can be achieved if government will embrace our approach. We have the research, the reach and experience that proves how successful it is, but we need political support, too,” she noted.