McDonald's Restaurants of Canada Limited

October 06, 2009 12:00 ET

George Cohon, Founder of McDonald's Canada and McDonald's Russia, Honoured in Washington, D.C.

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 6, 2009) - George A. Cohon, Founder, McDonald's Canada and McDonald's Russia was honoured by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars of the Smithsonian Institution as the proud recipient of the Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship. Cohon accepted the award at the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Awards Dinner to benefit the Center's Kennan Institute, which was held at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, October 1, 2009.

George Cohon, the Chicago-born founder of McDonald's Canada, introduced a Soviet delegation to McDonald's during the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. That encounter sparked a fourteen-year odyssey that culminated in the opening of the first McDonald's restaurant in Moscow in 1990. In the waning days of the Cold War the remarkably successful launch of a North American icon in the heart of Soviet Russia was popularized as "Burger Diplomacy". The complete story was later told in Cohon's book, "To Russia With Fries".

Today, McDonald's Russia now boasts more than 220 restaurants in over 50 cities and has served more than 2 billion customers. With more than 24,500 Russians employed at restaurants, processing facilities and corporate offices, and more than 100,000 Russians employed by suppliers, McDonald's Russia was named Russia's Best Employer in 2006 by the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Best Employer in Central Eastern Europe from 2007-2009 by Hewitt Associates, a global human resources consulting and outsourcing company. Cohon also established Ronald McDonald House Charities in Russia in 1995, which has become a vital source of aid and comfort to children with special needs and their families. Since then, nearly $7 million USD has been raised to help Russian children in need.

"I'm thrilled to have been chosen a recipient of this prestigious award," said Cohon. "The success today of the McDonald's business in Russia is thanks to the determination and dedication of its Russian employees, suppliers and of course its customers, but I'm honoured to have played a part in making that success a reality."

Also honoured was Mikhail Piotrovsky, Director of the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. Mr. Piotrovsky was awarded the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service.

The Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Awards Dinner was established through a generous donation from Kathryn W. Davis and her family, recipients of the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service in 2006, and is intended to raise public awareness of individuals demonstrating outstanding and enlightened corporate citizenship and public service in connection with the U.S.-Russian relationship.

About the Kennan Institute

The Kennan Institute, as the oldest program of the Woodrow Wilson Center, bridges the gap between the world of ideas and the world of public affairs by bringing scholars and governmental specialists together to discuss political, social, and economic issues affecting Russia and other successor states to the Soviet Union, seeking always to place these issues within their historical context. The Kennan Institute is a non-partisan institution committed to improving American expertise and knowledge about this region. The Institute organizes seminars, workshops, briefings, and conferences featuring prominent scholars and policymakers from America, Russia, and other successor states to the Soviet Union with experience in shaping U.S.-Russian policy.

About McDonald's Canada

McDonald's is the leading foodservice company in the world. McDonald's Restaurants of Canada Limited and its Canadian franchisees own and operate more than 1,400 restaurants and employ more than 77,000 Canadians coast to coast. Approximately 75 per cent of McDonald's Canadian restaurants are locally owned and operated by independent entrepreneurs. For more information about McDonald's Canada, visit the company's website at

To view a photo of the award winners, please visit the following link:

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