Class of 1998
George A. Cohon is Founder of McDonald's Restaurants of Canada Limited and Founder of McDonald's in Russia. In addition, Mr. Cohon is the Founder of Ronald McDonald Children's Charities here in Canada and in Russia.
He graduated from Northwestern University School of Law in 1961, and in 1967 as the licensee of McDonald’s Corporation for most of Eastern Canada, he immigrated to Toronto with his wife and two sons. He was responsible for the rapid expansion of McDonald’s Canadian operations 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.
In 1976, Mr. Cohon embarked on a 14 year long odyssey to bring McDonald’s to what was then the Soviet Union. This difficult process finally culminated in the opening of the first McDonald’s in Moscow in 1990. Today, Mr. Cohon continues to actively support the Russian operations.
Mr. Cohon is actively involved in a variety of charities, and has received numerous awards for public service. He was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1992. He has received the Order of Ontario for his charitable endeavors. He was awarded Russia’s Order of Friendship (one of Russia’s highest public service award) from Russian President Boris Yeltsin. He has received the Israel Prime Minister’s Medal (Israel’s highest public service award).
Mr. Cohon’s autobiography, To Russia With Fries, was published in 1997. All royalties from the sale of the book are being donated to Ronald McDonald Children’s Charities of Canada – which he founded in 1982.