George A. Cohon
Founder, McDonald's Canada
In 1967, Mr. Cohon moved to Toronto as the Licensee of McDonald's Corporation for Eastern Canada. McDonald's Canadian operations expanded rapidly and in 1971, after McDonald's Corporation reacquired his license, Mr. Cohon became Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of McDonald's Restaurants of Canada Limited - positions he held until July 1992.
Mr. Cohon has played an active and prominent role in numerous charitable organizations. He is the Founder of Ronald McDonald House Charities, both in Canada and in Russia.
Mr. Cohon spearheaded the opening of McDonald's in the former Soviet Union. Negotiations began in 1976, culminating in the 1990 opening of the first Moscow McDonald's restaurant. Today, Mr. Cohon continues to actively support the Russian operations. Mr. Cohon is also the author of his best-selling autobiography, To Russia With Fries.
Mr. Cohon's career has also been marked by a longstanding commitment to corporate social responsibility. As a corporate philanthropist, he is well known for his leadership in founding Ronald McDonald House Charities in Canada and Russia to support children who require hospitalization and their families.
Among other awards, he has received the highest public service awards from three continents: he is an Officer of the Order of Canada; he was also awarded Russia's Order of Friendship and the Israeli Prime Minister's Medal. He has received the Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship, an honourary doctorate from University of Haifa, an honourary doctorate from Simon Fraser, and is a member of the Canadian Business Hall of Fame.
Mr. Cohon is a graduate of Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, with a B.Sc. degree. He graduated from Northwestern University School of Law with a Juris Doctorate degree. He lives in Toronto with his wife. They have two sons and three grandchildren.