About Dave Thomas

The man behind the vision.

  • In 1990, at the request of President George H.W. Bush, Dave Thomas began to speak out publicly and encourage people to consider foster care adoption. He spearheaded a national public service campaign and encouraged other business leaders to offer adoption benefits as part of their employee benefit plans. Dave wanted to do more. So in 1992, he established the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. Over the years, Dave’s modest charisma and simple sincerity helped spread the word about adoption. He testified before Congress in support of adoption tax credits and adoption legislation, appeared in television public service announcements, expanded his reach to Canada, and led the initiative to create an adoption stamp, which was issued by the U.S. Postal Service in 2000. On January 8, 2002, Dave passed away and the world lost one of its greatest advocates for children. Dave Thomas was respected for being a talented businessman and a caring philanthropist; his unceasing desire to improve the lives of North America’s most vulnerable children was arguably his greatest contribution to society. In honor of Dave, our Foundation will continue to commit itself to the vision he set forth: to make sure every child has a permanent and loving family. It’s a lofty vision, but Dave would expect nothing less. Learn more about Dave Thomas and the Thomas Family.
  • CEO Dave

Our History

Where we began and how we’re moving forward.

  • Our story began in 1990, when Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy’s, accepted President George H.W. Bush’s invitation to be the spokesperson for a national adoption awareness campaign. Just two years later, Dave established the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption as a national non-profit public charity with one primary goal: to help every child in foster care find a loving, permanent family. In 2003, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption Canada was formally incorporated.
  • National Attention

    Throughout the 90s, Dave Thomas led a national awareness campaign for foster care adoption. In 1997, he testified before Congress to support an adoption adoption tax credit that aims to make adoption more affordable. He also worked to create a national adoption stamp. His extraordinary efforts were rewarded when Congress signed the tax credit into law and the U.S. Postal Service issued the DTFA stamp countrywide.

  • His Mission Continues

    Sadly in 2002, Dave Thomas passed away and the adoption community lost its biggest champion. Today, we continue to carry out his mission. We commission landmark surveys to research the public’s attitudes and perceptions about adoption. We spearhead National Adoption Day, an annual event when judges across the country make it a priority to finalize pending foster care adoptions.

  • Learn more about Wendy’s Wonderful Kids

  • Wendy’s Wonderful Kids

    Then, in 2004, we launched our largest ongoing service program. Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, a partnership with Wendy’s restaurants, their customers and other donors, supports grant-based adoption professionals to find families for children in foster care. This program was piloted in seven cities. By 2006, this signature program had expanded to every state in the U.S., the District of Columbia, and two Canadian provinces. Today, we fund more than 200 child-focused adoption recruiters across North America.

    Our work continues as we strive to make the world a better place through adoption, one child at a time. For more than 20 years after our founding, Dave’s inspiring call to action keeps us moving forward every day for children in foster care. They deserve nothing less than our best effort.