Coley O’Brien Joins Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption Board of Trustees

Posted on June 3, 2019

Foundation committed to finding permanent homes for the nearly 155,000 children waiting in North America’s foster care systems

Columbus, Ohio — The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, a national non-profit public charity, today welcomed Coley O’Brien as a member of its board of trustees. O’Brien, chief people officer at Wendy’s®, is responsible for leading the company’s human resources strategy, innovation, integration and execution of people systems and programs. He will serve a three-year term.

Coley O’Brien

“In the 50 years since Dave Thomas founded Wendy’s, family has been at the heart of everything we do as a company, including our longtime support of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption,” said O’Brien. “I’m honored to serve on the Foundation’s board of trustees and help the organization in finding adoptive homes for children in foster care who need our help the most.”

Coley joined The Wendy’s® Company in 2007 as national director of operations training. He was promoted to vice president of HR & field capability in 2011, where he led operations training for Wendy’s more than 6,000 restaurants and 200,000 employees across North America.

“Coley is a passionate leader who works every day to foster a culture at Wendy’s in which every employee feels supported and valued,” said Mary Schell, chief public affairs officer for Wendy’s and chair of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption’s board of trustees. “He will bring that same passion, leadership and caring spirit to advancing the Foundation’s mission.”

Through its signature program, Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption provides funding to adoption agencies to hire recruiters who implement an evidence-based, child-focused recruitment model. A rigorous, five-year evaluation revealed that the model is up to three times more effective at serving children who have been in foster care the longest, including teenagers, children with special needs and siblings.

To date, more than 430 Wendy’s Wonderful Kids recruiters have found forever homes for more than 8,500 children in foster care across North America.

“The Foundation is fortunate to have a talented, hard-working and passionate group of board members. Coley fits that mold,” said Rita Soronen, president & CEO of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. “I look forward to working with Coley to realize our vision that every child will have a permanent home and loving family.”

O’Brien is a graduate of Indiana University and completed Cornell University’s Executive Education Program for Chief Human Resources Officers. He lives in Columbus, Ohio.


About the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption
The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption is a national nonprofit public charity dedicated exclusively to finding permanent homes for the nearly 155,000 children waiting in North America’s foster care systems. Created by Wendy’s® founder Dave Thomas who was adopted, the Foundation implements evidence-based, results-driven national service programs, foster care adoption awareness campaigns and innovative grantmaking. To learn more, visit

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