Founder McDonald’s Canada/Russia & Founder Ronald McDonald House Charities Canada/Russia
Mr. Cohon was born in Chicago, Illinois. He practiced corporate law in Chicago from 1961 through 1967. In 1967 he moved to Toronto, Canada, as the licensee of McDonald’s Corporation for Eastern Canada. In 1971, Mr. Cohon became Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada Limited, positions he held for 25 years. McDonald’s in Canada now numbers over 1,400 restaurants and has sales of over $3 billion per year and employs over 77,000 people.
Mr. Cohon spearheaded the drive to open McDonald’s in the former Soviet Union with the first restaurant opening in 1990. Today there are over 270 McDonald’s restaurants in Russia and Moscow’s Pushkin Square site is the world’s busiest McDonald’s. In addition, McDonald’s Russia has the highest average sales volumes and guest counts in any of McDonald’s major markets worldwide. Mr. Cohon is the author of his best-selling autobiography, “To Russia With Fries”.
Mr. Cohon became a Canadian citizen in 1975. Among other awards, he has received the highest public service awards from three continents: he is an Officer of the Order of Canada for his outstanding contribution to his country; he received the Order of Ontario for his charitable endeavors and he was awarded Russia’s Order of Friendship and the Israel Prime Minister’s Medal. In 2009, he was honored by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars of the Smithsonian Institution. He received the Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship, which is given to individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to bolstering U.S.-Russian relations.
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. He is a Founding Patron of Ronald McDonald Houses, and co-chairman of Toronto’s annual Santa Claus Parade, now in its 108th year. Mr. Cohon sits as a director on the board of Astral Media Inc.
Mr. Cohon is a Partner of Cirque du Soleil Russia/Ukraine.
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, Susan and owns a home in Palm Beach. They have two sons, who are married, and three grandchildren.